Coffee Roasting: Tradition vs. Technology

Freshly roasted coffee is getting a whiff of artificial intelligence (AI), While software has long assisted roasters, AI is raising the stakes. Large companies and commercial roasters have relied on roast profile software to maintain consistency across diverse bean origins. It’s a necessity for them to ensure predictable flavor profile despite the inherent variations in sourced beans. Now, with AI entering the equation, is this yet another scenario of robots vs humans?

For small coffee farms and roasters like us, it’s a concern. There is an art to roasting coffee, one that only human experience and intuition can truly grasp. It’s a craft honed through years of practice, not just following a set of software programs. Automation, while offering efficiency, threatens to homogenize the coffee experience and diminish the value of exploring diverse coffee origins.

On the Big Island of Hawaii, four distinct coffee districts boast diverse flavors shaped by their unique landscapes – the volcanic slopes of Kona, the arid plains of Kau, the lush jungles of Puna, and here at Hog Heaven Coffee, the deep soils of Hāmākua. Too much automation risks erasing the nuances inherent in the differing regions.

We, here at Hog Heaven Coffee, embrace tradition. To be sure, we only roast coffee grown from our farm, there is no blending from other regions. So Mike is able to roast coffee with consistency all the while appreciating the artistry and craft. He maintains uniformity by logging each roast not in a computer spreadsheet but with pen and paper in a dedicated binder…old school!

While technology marches forward, we believe tradition still holds value. The human touch, the art of the roast, and the appreciation for distinctive regional flavors; that perfect cup of coffee lies somewhere in between – where technology enhances, not replaces, the human touch, preserving the unique character of each bean and the artistry of the roast.

man shown logging in coffee roast bindercoffee roaster

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