Berkeley, California-based roasting machine maker Bellwether Coffee has landed $10 million in a series A funding round, while announcing it has already received $6 million in pre-orders, including from a “leading U.S. grocery chain.”
Bellwether was among the most captivating product launches at this past Spring’s Specialty Coffee Association Expo, and the funding round was led by startup Congruent Ventures, alongside other primarily tech-industry-focused investors including FusionX Ventures, Tandem Capital, New Ground Ventures, Hardware Club, XN Ventures and Peter and Lyndon Rive.
“Congruent is excited to work with Bellwether Coffee and its outstanding leadership team to help bring innovation and sustainable business practices to the coffee industry from farms to cafes,” Congruent Ventures Managing Partner Josh Posamentier said in an announcement today. “Bellwether offers the only emissions-free commercial coffee roaster, enabling customers to grow sales in a higher-margin, socially-responsible [sic] fashion.”
Available as a purchase or lease item, the Bellwether roasting machine occupies approximately the same footprint as a kitchen refrigerator. The encased design not only allows for the emissions-free system, but presents a dramatic, almost futuristic, design departure from traditional commercial roasters.
Developed over more than three years, the electric machine and its related software platform are designed to give roasters an integrated seed-to-roast route, in which they can select from a curated green coffee inventory that includes filters such as certifications or “women-owned,” use built-in production scheduling and inventory software, and tap into Bellwether’s roasting and profiling software, which includes automation for various stages of a given roast.
In short, the machine is designed to remove any previous barriers — in addition to the big issue of emissions and ventilation — new or aspiring roasters already in the cafe business may have had in launching their own roasting operations. Much of the company’s pitch relates to margins, as it argues that the system has saved trial shops a quarter of the cost on coffee, compared to buying from third-party roasters.
“We help put the roaster profit margin back into our customers’ business and use proprietary data analytics tools to gain insights, saving an average of 25% on coffee bean costs,” said Bellwether Coffee CEO Nathan Gilliland.