A Switzerland-based coffee roasting and technology startup called Mikafi recently revealed its electric roasting machine, the MikafiOne.
Designed for small-batch commercial applications, the machine comes integrated with an IoT platform designed specifically to ensure quality and improve efficiency for operators in cafe, restaurant, hospitality or office settings.
Slated for release next year, the machine is expected to be available for direct purchase or through a subscription model.
Beyond the machinery, the Mikafi system offers the promise of ultra-customization, in which guests might order green coffees and specific roast profiles on the spot, with little effort required of the machine’s owners/subscribers.
At the HostMilano expo this past October in Milan, Italy, Mikafi showed off a prototype of the electric-heat machine, which weighs about 50 kilograms (110 pounds) and stands about 80 centimeters (2 feet, 7 inches) tall.
Its wide front window prominently shows off the tumbling green-to-brown transformation in batches of coffee ranging from 600 grams to 1.25 kilograms (1.3 to 2.6 pounds).
Made by a small team in Zurich and slated for production by manufacturing partner Thermoplan, the MikafiOne roasts coffee with convection heat from hot air and conduction heat through its mostly steel drum. The drum features a proprietary combination of layered metal panels in its walls for even and quickly responsive heat distribution, according to the company.
Roasts can be entirely automated, although users have the option to control drum speed, air and drum temperatures, and other finer details. A built-in color-tracking system — which is still in development — is being designed to monitor and control roasts based on real-time bean color.
“It’s really designed for baristas who have a lot of work to do and no time to focus on roasting,” Mikafi Co-Founder and Co-Designer Marius Disler told Daily Coffee News. “All you have to do is load the green coffee, choose the profile on the display and press start, and then the machine is doing everything by itself.”
The IoT platform will allow for downloading and sharing of roast profiles, while also offering fleet and inventory management features. Users can program and monitor the usage and performance of multiple machines in different locations. The cloud-based data system will also assist distributors in providing maintenance services, while each machine also performs self-diagnostics locally.
Conceptually similar to a Bellwether electric roasting machine, but smaller in footprint and capacity, the Mikafi unit features a proprietary combination of passive and active built-in smoke filtration technologies that will allow the machine to be installed indoors without venting, according to the company.
“You still have the smell of roasting coffee, but you don’t have any smoke,” said Disler. “It’s targeting everyone who wants to strengthen their brands in coffee, and so it could be local shops small and mid-sized coffee chains, hotels — everyone who wants to increase the quality and experience in coffee.”
Mikafi Subscriptions and Customizations
Disler and co-founder Claudio Vögtli both come from business and digital design backgrounds. In 2019, they began collaborating with electrical and mechanical engineers on the Mikafi machine and platform.
They also conferred with Chahan Yeretzian at Coffee Excellence Center at ZHAW University of Applied Sciences in Zurich on matters of coffee chemistry, roast development and roaster design.
The Mikafi concept was inspired in part by a trip Disler took to Colombia years earlier in which he learned how green coffee types, post-harvest processing and roasting all play an instrumental part in the finished product.
He now envisions a scenario in which guests can walk into a shop, order a green coffee and perhaps a specific roast profile, and minutes later walk away with freshly roasted beans of their choosing.
The shop owners, meanwhile, can access the Mikafi tech platform by purchasing the equipment outright, or through a subscription model.
The subscription model could include one or more machines, while green coffees can be sourced independently or through Mikafi’s network of suppliers. The subscription is expected to include access to the full suite of IoT features and roast profiles, while Mikafi will collect a fee per roast.
Hoppers of green coffee beans waiting in the wings. Daily Coffee News photo.
“We don’t take any commission on the green coffee because we don’t do the work of sourcing,” said Disler. “We are really a roasting tech company. There are partners who do an amazing job in sourcing and all the supply chain of the green coffee, and we really want to be an open ecosystem and work with partners.”
Fellow Zurich-based company Algrano has come aboard as Mikafi’s first green coffee supply partner.
The company plans to begin shipping the first MikafiOne machines to customers before the end of 2024.
Source: Daily Coffee News