Starbucks Partners with Microsoft to Track Coffee Beans Using Blockchain


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At the Microsoft Build 2019 conference on May 6, 2019, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadela explained how they are working with Starbucks to enhance the coffee giant’s services using technologies such as IoT, Machine learning and blockchain.

Connecting Customers to Farmers

First announced in 2018, Starbucks’ bean-to-cup program was supposed to be used to track coffee beans from the farms to coffee mugs. To achieve that goal, Starbucks now intends to use Microsoft’s recently announced Azure Blockchain Services for its coffee bean tracking.

The initiative is meant to connect coffee drinkers and coffee farmers by allowing customers to use the Starbucks mobile app to trace the journey of the coffee beans used to make their coffee.

Microsoft’s blog explained the end results of implementing blockchain for tracking coffee:

“The company is developing a feature for its mobile app that shows customers information about where their packaged coffee comes from, from where it was grown and what Starbucks is doing to support farmers in those locations, to where and when it was roasted, tasting notes and more.”

Starbucks CEO stated in the company’s first announcement about the bean-to-cup initiative that they will “leverage an open-source approach” to share what they learn with the rest of the world.

Starbucks — A Tech Company?

Starbucks is also using machine learning platform built and hosted on Microsoft Azure to send personalized recommendations for food and drinks to those customers who use the Starbucks mobile application. It tracks several data points such as local store inventory, previous orders, popular selections, weather, and time of day to share those recommendations with customers.

Starbucks executive vice president and CTO Martin-Flickinger says:

Starbucks is an experience. And it’s centered around that customer connection in the store, the human connection, one person, one cup, one neighborhood at a time. I think that mission is so critical to how technology has to show up for us.

To track all the machines being used in the hundreds of Starbucks stores across the globe and be able to spot any problems in them, Starbucks will also be deploying an external device named guardian module to connect all the stores’ equipment to Microsoft Azure Sphere. When enhanced with IoT sensors, the machines will also be able to collect all sorts of data ranging from the type of coffee beans to water quality.

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