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GE FirstBuild challenge spurs home coffee roasting innovation

Louisville, Ky. – GE’s FirstBuild co-creation community has answered the challenge of coffee lovers everywhere with a way to roast fresh coffee beans at home.

Along with Autodesk, a leader in 3D design and engineering software, and Sweet Maria’s, a premier coffee bean and roaster retailer, FirstBuild challenged makers to create an at-home coffee roasting system and selected three winners from more than 30 entries.

First place winner in the challenge was City Roaster, designed by Stephane Arthur Kiss, a mechanical engineer from Ottawa, Canada, who was inspired by his love of espresso and his popcorn maker.
First place winner in the challenge was City Roaster, designed by Stephane Arthur Kiss, a mechanical engineer from Ottawa, Canada, who was inspired by his love of espresso and his popcorn maker.

FirstBuild, which embraces the brainpower of the maker movement at its Louisville microfactory and virtually around the globe, challenged makers to devise a simple coffee roasting system that could be adapted to home ovens. All entries were developed using Autodesk Fusion 360, a product development tool that brings together design, collaboration and fabrication in a single platform.

FirstBuild’s community responded and chose the following winning designs:

  • First Place to City Roaster by Stephane Arthur Kiss, 29, a mechanical engineer from Ottawa, Canada, who was inspired by his love of espresso and his popcorn maker.
  • Second Place to Cool Beans Coffee Bean Roaster by Hunter Stephenson and Steven Morse, 21 and 22, both quality engineers in Louisville, who work at GE Appliances. Their inspiration was coffee lovers who roast beans on a cookie sheet. Their winning design makes use of a novel “suit-case” concept that allows for even roasting, chaff removal and quick cooling, all at an affordable price for the consumer.
  • Third place to Float + VacuBean by Chia-Chen Lee, 32, an industrial designer living in Rochester, NY, who optimized her design to tumble the beans based on her home coffee roasting drum experience.

Additionally the challenge named the best student design: Air Coffee – Coffee Beans Roaster by Pedro Soria Martínez, 21, of Spain.

“The coffee roasting challenge illustrates the power of the maker community,” said FirstBuild Director Venkat Venkatakrishnan. “It also shows how FirstBuild has created a physical and online community of makers who innovate, motivate and build on each other’s ideas to create the kinds of products that consumers want.”

Much like the craft beer and wine movement, home coffee roasting is gaining among coffee enthusiasts. With this challenge, FirstBuild wants to make freshly roasted coffee accessible to the coffee lover at home. With just a convection oven and these innovative designs, home roasted coffee can be a reality.

The key challenges for entrants were maximizing airflow around beans in a convection oven, removing the chaff from beans after the roast, and fabricating the device using equipment available in FirstBuild’s state-of-the-art microfactory.

FirstBuild hopes to commercialize the coffee roaster in the coming months. The winning entries were awarded more than $15,000 in prizes including a 3D printer, desktop CNC mills, Fusion 360 software and coffee beans from Sweet Marias.

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