Bitbarista is a technology probe designed to explore perceptions of data processes in the Internet of Things. The coffee machine is connected to the internet and serves coffee in exchange of a bitcoin contribution towards its next coffee supply. It purportedly browses online data on the state of coffee-producing countries looking for information on climate, work conditions, political situation, infrastructure, price stability and demand, and selects top-ranked options in 4 categories: best quality, lowest price, lowest environmental impact and highest social responsibility. The machine offers users the opportunity to choose one of these options for its next supply, paying for their coffee accordingly. After the purchase, a new screen situates the choice within the pool of choices previ- ously made, all anonymised, displaying the supply most likely to be ordered next. The machine presents some autonomous features: it can administrate its revenues, order coffee, and rewards people for helping with its maintenance, e.g. by refilling coffee beans, filling its water tank, and cleaning it.
Bitbarista attempts to illustrate the complexity of factors involved in coffee supply chains, from production to distribution and purchase, in order to give users a stronger sense of participation in this process. It suggests that data could help to bring end consumers closer to the source of products, reducing intermediaries, and asking how users would receive this proximity. The autonomy of the machine to purchase coffee and set up prices are central in this context. The machine also indicates that choices are made collectively. It asks how people would react to making choices with this collectivity in mind, while placing choices in the future rather than the present. Although the machine only purports to browse data in real time, and the data that it claims to have found is not fully available at the moment, its categories were defined based on recent technical reports on coffee production1, and the process that it illustrates is not far-fetched. Our motivation was to design a connected device that would provide a more positive attitude towards data display, usage and sharing.
Bitbarista a) Analysing data on the state of coffee producing countries; b) Narrowing down results to 4 options; c) Selling coffee for bitcoin contribution towards next supply; d) Situating choice within the pool of choices previously made
Developed with Rory Gianni. Designed with Ella Tallyn, Rory Gianni and Chris Speed. User studies carried out with Ella Tallyn.