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The Javabot Combines Engineering and Coffee 165

WormholeFiend writes "The Javabot is the coffee machine of the future — completely next generation. It is the fully-automated system that runs the Roasting Plant Coffee Company in New York and its design is illustrative of what can be achieved using new thinking and methodologies to something that was previously regarded as a black art. The system is part of the experience because the coffee system runs throughout the shop. It's the first walk-in coffee machine in effect, and customers sit there and watch as their coffee beans rush past in pneumatic tubes, as they move from storage bins to staging, roasting station, grinding and a brewing machine where they are dispensed with the repeatable accuracy of a purpose-built machine. Customers can choose from any blend of seven different beans and every aspect of the process is controlled."
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The Javabot Combines Engineering and Coffee

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  • by CarAnalogy ( 1191053 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @01:16PM (#23092886)
    ...does it run java?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by krog ( 25663 )
      Not all that nice. After roasting, beans need 8-12h in open air to emit CO2, otherwise you end up with sour coffee (due to carbonic acid). Also, after the CO2 evaporates, it's generally agreed that a rest period of 4-7 days brings out the best flavor in roasted beans. Two machines would have been a better choice.
      • by ThreeGigs ( 239452 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @02:30PM (#23093908)
        According to TFA, they have storage for unroasted beans, and roasted beans, to allow them to sit to 'degas', as they call it. Roasted beans get dumped in the top of a cylinder, slowly making their way downwards as 'degassed' beans are pulled from the bottom and more roasted beans are added on top.

        In a nutshell, 'they already thought of that'.
        • I don't see what impressionism has to do with any of this.
          Get it? Degas?
        • It's well known that the flavor in a coffee bag sinks to the bottom over time, and that a bag of coffee beans needs to be shaken up and down and turned upside down repeatedly to make the flavor more consistent.

          I'd rather die than drink unshaken coffee, so I still say this is a nice toy, but not for a true discerning taste.
          • by Compuser ( 14899 )
            Sounds like their system is perfect for you. They pull beans from the bottom so they should be full of flavor. The only problem would be if demand for some beans is low and the beans sit waiting for too long.
        • One of the early Spider Robinson "Callihan" books had a large section devoted to "The Font", a machine designed to go from raw beans through the complete process of delivering Irish Coffee in a heated mug. It was invented by a mythical person named "The Slave of Coffee" whom I believe must really live out there somewhere (there's a back alley coffe supplier in Melbourne who comes close, I think). The machine stayed in the background perking away through most of his later works.

          I love coffee, but hate espre

    • Given

      A supervisory PC sits at the top of that system, managing Roasting Plantâ(TM)s drink- and roasting-related databases. The PC also gives the system a nice graphical user interface.
      and the little schematic they gave, I would venture a guess that they coded it in G []. Though personally, I never really enjoyed programming for LabVIEW, I much preferred SimuLINK in MATLAB.
    • ... can it make me tea?

      (With best wishes from England.)
    • by Trogre ( 513942 )
      Didn't you read the fine print of the Java licence?

      "not designed or intended for use in the design, construction, operation or maintenance of any nuclear facility or colossal coffee-making robot"

      Emphasis mine. And the text might be mine too.

  • Dilbert (Score:4, Funny)

    by sm62704 ( 957197 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @01:16PM (#23092894) Journal
    Does it look like this [] one []?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by B'Trey ( 111263 )
      Does it make coffee as good as this [] one? (Requires a little more reading than Dilbert to make sense of everything but well worth the effort...)
  • by fredrated ( 639554 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @01:18PM (#23092924) Journal
    a machine that drinks coffee, and we can take people out of the equation altogether!
  • by AltGrendel ( 175092 ) <ag-slashdot AT exit0 DOT us> on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @01:20PM (#23092950) Homepage

    Full color illustration here! []

    • You don't want to drink that coffee. Trust me. Well, no, it doesn't taste bad, but...
  • Can they make this into a cubicle version?

    Picture a new aspect of configuring your office's network being that you have to lay out tubing for all of the cubicle coffee dispensers...
    • Re:Cubicle? (Score:4, Informative)

      by spun ( 1352 ) <> on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @01:31PM (#23093092) Journal
      Just get a personal coffee roaster and a grind & brew coffee maker. I know, I know. You want pneumatic tubes. Who doesn't? But a personal hot air coffee roaster can be had for $80+, while a grind and brew can be had for $100 and up. The result is the same, even if it's not as fun to watch.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Ctrl-Z ( 28806 )
        Is there a way to do that without annoying half the people on my floor?
        • by spun ( 1352 )
          Ahh, hadn't even thought about that. Probably not, the roaster and grinder are both quite loud. I suppose you could buy them all noise cancelling headphones...
          • That, and roasting coffee in an enclosed space has the aroma of burning popcorn :/
            • by ncc74656 ( 45571 ) *

              That, and roasting coffee in an enclosed space has the aroma of burning popcorn :/

              ...and it can set off smoke detectors. Screeching alarms won't endear you to your coworkers.

              • by macshit ( 157376 )

                ...and it can set off smoke detectors. Screeching alarms won't endear you to your coworkers.

                Ah... but it might drive them away!

                A bit of privacy and a hot cup of joe... Who could ask for more?

      • by japhmi ( 225606 )
        I haven't found a grind & brew coffee maker that uses a burr grinder, they all use blade grinders.
        • by spun ( 1352 )
          It just so happens I was looking at grind and brews to confirm the price range, and Cuisinart makes a burr grinder model.

          Why is that important? Obviously you know, but a lot of people don't, considering how popular the blade grinders are. Blade grinders do two things wrong. The grounds are always in contact with the rapidly spinning blades, so the grounds heat up and lose flavor. Secondly, by the time the blades turn most of the coffee into appropriately sized grounds, the rest of it is dust. Burr grinders
  • It says that they do not roast on demand because the beans need time to "cool and out-gas". I haven't done my own roasting before, so I was wondering how necessary that really is. If it's just dangerous gases to worry about (??), why not use suction to draw them away? Is there a way to speed up the cooling process, assuming it's really necessary?

    Anyone know?

    I love coffee.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Overzeetop ( 214511 )
      I thought out-gassing was what happened in a vacuum, and off-gassing is what occurred within an atmosphere.

      FWIW, Sharpie marks don't out-gas once dry (an odd bit of trivia you may need when deciding what to use if you every want to tag anything on the space shuttle)
      • I thought out-gassing was what happened in a vacuum, and off-gassing is what occurred within an atmosphere.
        It might even be the other way around. Out-gassing or off-gassing, I don't know which one applies to the sysadmin but after a trip to the mexican buffet, his office door is to remain closed.
    • by treeves ( 963993 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @01:34PM (#23093136) Homepage Journal
      Having tried roasting a small batch of coffee beans myself, and doing the attendant research prior to doing so that any engineer would do, I understand that coffee just roasted doesn't taste as good as coffee roasted yesterday. It needs time to outgas some volatile compounds, not dangerous, just bad tasting. I suppose you could draw a vacuum to speed up the process, but it might be excessively complicated and still take too long. I'm not sure.
      • You really need to give this a try. I'm not purely objective, as I'm working with them on something, but let me tell you, beyond any cool factor, the coffee is exquisite. On a regular cup of black coffee the crema is so thick you'll think it's cappucino, and you get an amazing taste without it having to be so thick it's like mud. There's no sourness or bitterness. Where you'd at first think someone crazy for starting a new coffee chain when Starbucks so dominates the industry, after trying this you'll wonde
    • by jmichaelg ( 148257 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @01:45PM (#23093278) Journal
      It's not a toxicity issue, the gas is CO2. The issue is the flavor it imparts to freshly roasted beans. How major an effect it has probably varies from palate to palate. I've roasted my own coffee and gotten all kinds of results even though I've tried really hard to be consistent. Allowing the bean to out gas does seem to make a better cup but I say that with the proviso that I've never done a full-on double blind study to see if it's true or if I'm fooling myself.

      Your idea of de-pressurizing the bean might work but before I went to the expense, it'd be worth doing the double blind to ensure it's necessary.

      What makes the biggest difference is the quality of the bean. I've roasted Vietnamese beans that were god awful and Costa Rican beans that were sublime. Green beans come in all kinds of shapes and colors. The Vietnamese beans I sampled were a motley lot of various shapes in the same bag whereas the best beans have a consistent color and shape within the same bag. The color varies from region to region so there isn't a 'right color' as you can find good coffee in all shades of green.

      One problem with this guy's business plan is dealing with neighbors who object to roasting coffee. I generate quite a bit of smoke when I roast my piddling pound of coffee and I have to wait until the wind is blowing away from one of my neighbors who has lupus. I can well imagine all sorts of problems trying to roast in a congested area.
      • Roasted vs Roasting (Score:3, Informative)

        by onkelonkel ( 560274 )
        The smell we all like in good coffee shops is the smell of roasted coffee. On the other hand, the smell of roasting coffee is borderline horrible. It has that burnt coffee overtone we associate with bad gas-station coffee sitting on hotplates in those round glass pots.
    • FWIW, I roast all my coffee. ( go sweetmarias! )

      The gasses aren't dangerous, it's mostly just C02. They just make the coffee taste off. There's been a bunch of discussion on how to speed up the process in the homeroast community, but the conclusion everyone inevitably comes to is that it's impossible. The beans need time to develop their flavours and get rid of the off-taste of CO2. Takes about 24hrs or so, depending on the beans & roast.
    • by sm62704 ( 957197 )
      why not use suction to draw them away?

      Coffeemakers don't suck!
      • Coffeemakers don't suck!

        No, but vacuum baggers do... and if it has the attachment for mason jars, I bet you could out-gas your beans pretty easily.

        I'll try it with my next batch.
    • The answer is a couple of posts above you: [] :)
    • by u38cg ( 607297 )
      Frankly, whether it's giving off gas or taking it in, I don't know, but coffee peaks between 2-4 days after roasting. If you try and brew it straight after roasting, it has an unpleasant bitterness that goes away after a day or two. After that, it just gets stale. I'd strongly recommend trying home roasting - brings it up to a different level. However, you may not ever like Starbucks again...shame.
      • Well all this baffles me. I roast (dry pan on medium high gas ring, lots of stirring) and to my mind nothing beats a really fresh roast - ground while still hot, so it fizzes up when you add water to it in the filter. There's a whole bunch of fresh zingy aromas and high notes that get lost in a day or so.

        I'll allow that the beans settle down in a day or so and become more like commercial roasts, but one of the deep joys of home roasting is to sample the delightful flavours of a really fresh roast.

        Maybe it
  • ... and already slashdotted. Whoda thunk that a post about a fully automated coffee machine would cause a geek stampede.
    • by WormholeFiend ( 674934 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @01:26PM (#23093050)
      In that case, here's a link [] to the actual coffee shop that runs the Javabot

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      I'm thinking you could roast some coffee beans on that server right about now.
    • ...caused its own stampede, when it first went online. The Cambridge Coffeepot was perhaps the most famous webcam - and certainy the most famous coffeepot - on the planet for many years. This proves the neoclassic CaffeGeek Theorum which states that (extreme chaos) = (geek quotient) * (caffeine)^2, or e=gc^2. Einstein was close to discovering this, but falsely assumed that he could use the brain's mass rather than the geek quotient, leading to his incorrect conclusion that e=mc^2.
  • If you put computer terminals in there, and little tubes that drip coffee directly into your mouth, some slashdotters would never go home.
  • by archer, the ( 887288 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @01:24PM (#23093018)
    Here it is. []
  • by Skyshadow ( 508 ) * on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @01:25PM (#23093030) Homepage

    Skyshadow's Law: The more complicated the coffee maker, the worse off you are.

    The best cup of coffee I've ever found is from a little coffee shop near my wife's office in San Francisco (I won't say the name, but it's near the SoMa Caltrain station). They make their excellent brew in a decidedly low-tech way:

    Each customer chooses the type of coffee they want or (and this is a better option) tell the barrista to use their judgement. The beans are scooped up, ground and then poured into a very conventional filter basket along with enough water to produce one cup of coffee.

    And that's it -- the best cup of java you're likely to find made by probably the lowest-tech possible method.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @01:26PM (#23093040)
    Of course it doesn't run Java!

    If it did, the coffee machine would need 15 mins to start, require all the beans to be named a certain way, the path to each individual bean type explicitly defined in the CLASSPATH, and would freeze for 20mins doing garbage collection, usually at the most inappropriate time.

  • So this is just the coffee version of newer Krispy Kreme [] stores? I'm excited. I'd love to go visit.
  • Just feed it straight to my veins.
  • unwise (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Eliminating all human labor is unwise and ultimately self-destructive. Delegating "black arts" to highly reproducible mechanical processes goes against esthetics and homogenizes into blandness the infinitely variable human process it replaces.

    This is all just shallow thinking to maximize short-term profits. In that sense, it is just plain dumb, albeit in a spectacular bling-blingy sort of way.

    • by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @02:05PM (#23093552) Journal

      Eliminating all human labor is unwise and ultimately self-destructive. Delegating "black arts" to highly reproducible mechanical processes goes against esthetics and homogenizes into blandness the infinitely variable human process it replaces.

      This is all just shallow thinking to maximize short-term profits. In that sense, it is just plain dumb, albeit in a spectacular bling-blingy sort of way.

      Ah, a luddite. How cute.

      I've got news for you. Your standard of living, or that you can afford to spew pretentious words on Slashdot instead of being out in the fields with an ox-drawn plough, is because things like that already happened.

      E.g., look at the clothes you wear. There's been quite the movement against mechanical looms in the 19'th century. In fact, that was _the_ original luddite movement. Turns out that it wasn't self-destructive or short-term after all. Previously you'd have maybe one set of clothes, total, for a decade. And you'd stitch and patch them when they broke, because it would be too expensive to buy a new set.

      E.g., the fact that they're clean. Previously washing the clothes was a very time-consuming manual process, and it wouldn't be done anywhere near daily. If you enjoy pulling a clean new t-shirt out of the drawer daily, or a pair of socks, or underwear, or whatever, then roll it around in your head that people used to just wear the same clothes through mud and dirt and whatnot for quite a while.

      E.g., if you enjoy a nice office job with a computer, it's only because agriculture got heavily mechanized and a small number of farmers can feed the rest of society to do better stuff. We used to need 5 peasant families to support a knight. Maybe also add a burgher family, although those were a lot fewer than that actually. Almost three quarters of the population used to be out there ploughing dawn to dusk, just for subsistence, in the good old days of non-mechanized manual labour. By sheer probabilities, chances are that would be your lot in life, if we still were at that point.

      E.g., for that matter, read that again: dawn to dusk. Literally, that was how the acre was defined: the surface that a peasant with one ox can plough in a day, from dusk to dawn. That would be your daily schedule, for 6 days a week. Not to keep some cushy office job by putting up with a PHB's demands for overtime. That would be the _normal_ schedule, and just for subsistence.

      E.g., enjoy all that free TV and free content on the internet and whatnot? Well, that too is because society now makes enough of a surplus, that marketing can blow on subsidizing those in exchange for ads. Previously your only entertainment would be the pub, sitting and listening to the same stories around the fire, and maybe a village dance on sundays. Don't think even books, because those were quite the uber-expensive things before Gutenberg went and made it a "highly reproducible mechanical process".

      Etc, etc, etc.

      Turns out that none of that actually made us any poorer. We just end up producing more, and affording to divert more work into entertainment and services.
  • But is the Java bot compliant with personal Java spec revision 123342.432687 from RFC 5 Robotlabs certificate B?

  • The site was down, so I couldn't actually read the article, but roasting takes a fair amount of time to get right. From the summary it made it sound like it was doing micro roasting for every drink. Roasting also smells pretty... weird, I wouldn't call it a bad smell but it doesn't smell like the finished product either.

    There have also been machines around for a long time that do everything including steaming the milk, although much smaller. They are called super automatics in the industry. http://www.w []
  • by RiffRafff ( 234408 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @01:44PM (#23093262) Homepage
    Let me get this straight...the coffee goes from green bean to brewed cup in the matter of (tens of?) minutes? Any true coffee connoisseur knows that "the coffee attains its peak 4 to 24 hours after roasting." Ref: [] and [] and

  • Roasting Plant is the brainchild of Mike Caswell, a former engineer for Starbucks, where he worked on supply chain and operational efficiency projects.
    If he signed a do not compete contract, he might be screwed. If he didn't, how can I invest in his company?
  • Another mention... (Score:2, Informative)

    by CyberDong ( 137370 )
    With a couple pictures...
  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @01:49PM (#23093328) Homepage Journal
    Someone should open a store that does this with marijuana instead of coffee. I think total automation so the consumer doesn't have to do anything but suck in the nifty chemical would go even better with potheads than wired coffee addicts who need something to do with their ampup.

    Something like this would put Vancouver on the map.
    • by Hatta ( 162192 )
      I've often considered what it would take to fit my house with central bong.
      • You might come closer to getting it done if you considered it sometime when you're not using the individual units with window ventilation.
  • I remember playing an game from a Commodore 64 (128?) magazine where you manually controlled an assembly-line-style coffee machine with a conveyor belt; it looked a good bit like this, except the pipes were for cream and sugar and stuff. The more things change...
  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @03:32PM (#23094578) Homepage whether the coffee produced by the Javabot tastes good.

    Never. It talks about "machine of the future," that it's purpose is "to produce the most flavorful cup of coffee available," efficiency, control, etc.

    It does not say whether that purpose was achieved.

    The writer does not say that he tried some coffee made by the Javabot and that it tasted good.

    The writer does not quote anyone who says they tried some coffee made by the Javabot and that it tasted good.
    • I live about 5 minutes by foot from the Roasting Plant, and I can say with confidence that this is the best brewed coffee I've ever tasted. And I'm not the only one - the five or six friends (some of whom are connoisseurs) that I've taken to this place have all agreed that it's at or close to the top of all the coffee they've tasted.

      The Rube Goldberg quality of the apparatus (it really is rather hypnotic to watch) naturally makes one suspicious that they sacrifice quality for spectacle, but the truth is th
      • BTW, I promise that I have no connection to this establishment other than liking their coffee.
        You seem genuine, Dan. Or should I call you honestbob?
  • It's a nifty place. A couple of points: The summary makes it seem like you can choose your own blend to go into a drink that you order on-premises. Not true. They have pre-filled tubes with their "Roasting Plant Blend" and a bunch of single-origin coffees, and you can choose any one of those for them to make an espresso with. If you are buying beans to take home, of course you can get a little bit of the Papa New Guinea, a little bit of the Ethiopian Harrar, a little bit of the... and make your own blen
  • by hcdejong ( 561314 ) <hobbes&xmsnet,nl> on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @04:21PM (#23095214)
    If it were my coffee shop, I'd build a Rube Goldberg contraption instead of some dull, straightforward machine.

    Acmebucks, we brew your coffee in 154 easy steps!
  • by zazenation ( 1060442 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @05:33PM (#23095956)
    It's the first walk-in coffee machine in effect, and customers sit there and watch as their coffee beans rush past in pneumatic tubes, as they move from storage bins to staging, roasting station, grinding and a brewing machine where they are dispensed with the repeatable accuracy of a purpose-built machine.

    (Big Yawn)

    When I can watch my coffee being GROWN via a live 24/7 satellite feed and Juan Valdez personally inspecting my every bean --- THEN I'll truly be impressed...
  • As I look at the 'machine', what hits me first is what a labor intensive nightmare it must be to keep clean... And for a coffee machine to produce quality coffee, cleanliness is extremely important.
  • For all of us who implement those 50-purpose tools into a single interface program, we can finally add our "Make Coffee" button!
  • I understand that it even has a cage where civet cats crap out steamy fresh Kopi Luwak beans.


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