NEWS: RFID Puts You in Control of the Coffee Bean


While many people take their coffee drinking seriously, even those with a proper espresso machine at home do not roast their own beans. This is typically done on an industrial scale using specialist equipment, far away from the end user. Now Bonaverde intend to bring roasting into the kitchen with the first all-in-one machine that turns raw, green coffee beans into ‘proper coffee’ thanks largely to RFID technology.

The company crowd-funded it’s first appliance back in 2013 and the consumer model is now ready. But several questions remain over Bonaverde's concept, chiefly, where do you buy unroasted beans? Raw, green beans aren't exactly easy to come by. They're usually traded by the ton, not something you pick up at your local store. So the company has not only refined its machine; it has also established a complete supply chain to ship beans directly from coffee growers to the doorstep.

Bonaverde had to develop another machine to enable growers to package their product in the special parcels required by its all-in-one appliance. Key to the packaging process is a unique RFID chip that's attached to every pouch. Users will have to tap this tag on the front of their machine before it will roast the raw beans. The tag communicates the optimal profile to the appliance -- different strains of bean from different regions require distinct temperatures, timing and air-circulation settings to be at their best.

The little pizza-slice-shaped packs contain enough raw coffee for one pot, with the packaging doubling as the brewing filter. The grower-side equipment is built with developing countries in mind. It runs on solar power with battery backup, is simple to set up or fix. It even has a few bonus features like being a WiFi hotspot.

Consumers can tweak the roasting profile by using a mobile app, to add a more intense flavor, for example. Importantly, the app also has a scheduling feature so the brew is ready at a certain time, meaning consumers don't have wait for the 20-minute roasting, grinding and brewing cycle to complete.

The RFID packaging is also important to Bonaverde for a completely different reason. Being a startup, it doesn't have the cash to set itself up as a middleman between grower and consumer. Instead, growers effectively license the concept, packing the coffee at their own risk. The company handles the shipping and distributes the coffee to consumers, who just pay for delivery. Buying the actual coffee occurs only once the end user taps that RFID chip on the appliance, at which point the grower gets what it's owed and Bonaverde takes a cut.