Oritain develops coffee database to improve product traceability


Oritain has developed a coffee database based on the natural elements found in each bean that can improve product traceability across the supply chain. 

Just as a fingerprint or sample of evidence can bring a villain to justice, the profile of a coffee bean can also disclose the origin and conditions in which it was grown, and, in doing so, infer whether correct agriculture practices were used.

By measuring the different levels of nutrients and natural elements in samples of coffee beans, scientists at traceability company Oritain have created their own “Origin Fingerprint”.

“We liken it to finding a product’s natural fingerprint. Everything that is grown, reared, or made has a unique fingerprint that tells us where it’s from. As things grow, they absorb trace elements, isotopes, and nutrients from their environment,” says Sandon Adams of Oritain.

“We then use a series of statistical models to analyse the data and create an origin profile of that coffee bean based on this information. This acts as an identifier for the genuine origin of a certain type of coffee bean.”

The information is recorded and stored on an online database allowing the validity of a coffee varietal to be cross-checked at any point in the supply chain using the same forensic science and data analytics.

“By creating profiles on the natural elements present in different coffee beans from all over the world, it might be possible to determine which natural elements manifest which characteristics and, therefore, we might learn how to cultivate these specific elements and qualities in future beans,” says Adams.

Adams believes this technology will have a holistic effect on the whole industry.

“Specialty coffee growers can realise the full value of their coffee by offering assurances that it is genuine, and the roasters know that the coffee they are sourcing is the same great coffee that they then roast,” says Grant Cochrane, CEO of Oritain. “They can offer these assurances onto the increasingly conscious consumer, helping them to shop smarter and more sustainably.”

Oritain also aims to develop on-pack certification in the future, giving consumers a seal of authenticity.

“There has been a growing awareness of our impact as people on the world and, from that, an increased value in sustainability and transparency,” says Cochrane.

“Customers are now more curious and educated. This leads to increased demand for transparency, and for transparency that can be backed up with evidence.”

While barcodes and data play a role in traceability, the bean database will ensure another layer of supply chain authenticity.

“Without traceability, all other claims around sustainability and ethics are hard to prove,” says Cochrane. “A company could have the most stringent sourcing policies, but it could still affect how the product moves through the supply chain. Traceability shines a spotlight onto the supply chain and allows brands and consumers to really see what’s going on – ultimately leading to increased accountability and change.”

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