The year-old Denver-based tech startup Bext360 has announced the launch of two new pilot programs that will put its “Bextmachines” in the field to lead to what the company has described as the world’s first Blockchain-traceable coffees.
To unpack that a bit, here’s a simplified version of how the Bextmachine may be applied in coffee, based on the company’s own marketing materials and on a conversation we had in April with Bext360 Founder and CEO Daniel Jones: Located where coffee is sold in cherry, parchment or green form, the Bextmachine uses a series of sensors and artificial intelligence to determine metrics related not only to volume, but to quality, analyzing every cherry or green bean that passes through the machine. Buyers can then offer a price for that specific delivery, which the producer can than either accept or decline, and payment is made digitally through Blockchain technology.
Blockchain technology, originally devised for Bitcoin applications, essentially serves as a financial ledger that exists on numerous servers so that payment data cannot be adulterated by any individual party.
Jones developed the Bext360 technology specifically with coffee in mind after working for years in the Democratic Republic of Congo exporting conflict-free minerals, where security necessitated by large cash transactions represented a significant expense. In coffee, Jones believes, the Bext360 tech offers the significant benefits of digital payments direct to producers that are associated with quality, as well as complete traceability of that coffee from the point of sale in the field, down to the specific micro-lot, to the time it reaches the roaster.
For the first pilot program, Bext360 is joining with the Kampala, Uganda-based green coffee milling and export company Great Lakes Coffee and the Denver roastery Coda Coffee. Farmers will deposit coffee cherries for analysis at Great Lakes washing stations, where they can also accept digital payment based on the algorithm that factors in both volume and quality. The machines will then link those coffee cherries to “crypto tokens” that will track them through the various stops along the chain until they reach Coda, where they will be roasted.
For the second pilot program, Bext360 is partnering with Amsterdam and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia-based Moyee Coffee, which markets itself as the world’s first “Fairchain coffee” brand. During the four-month program, Moyee will source coffee from Ethiopia, using the Blockchain tech to provide proof of living-wage payments made to farmers. The financial traceability will be made available to Moyee’s retail and wholesale customers in Europe — hence the “first Blockchain-traceable coffee” claim.