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In collaboration with IEEE Xplore, this piece is a part of our unique IEEE Journal Watch series.

While some extremely dedicated coffee lovers might be skilled at differentiating between different coffee flavors, a new e-nose might give these people a run for their money. 

The new sensing system is presented in a research that was published last month in IEEE Transactions on AgriFood Electronics. It can reliably detect coffee aromas with 98 percent accuracy.

E-noses are instruments that analyze gases in order to categorize the type of material being examined. 

They are rising in popularity, thanks to their capacity to assist quality assurance of products (such as whiskey), give real-time health assessments (such as an individual’s glucose levels), and to promote sustainable agriculture (such as recognizing when a crop is ripe for harvesting).

As an avid coffee drinker, Chung-Hong Lee, a professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering at the National Kaohsiung University of Science and Technology in Taiwan, was curious to see how e-nose technology may be used in relation to one of his favorite drinks.

He points out that a number of variables affect coffee varietals, such as climate, growing region, post-harvest techniques (including wet and dry procedures), roasting method, and the genetic composition of the beans themselves.

More significantly, though, is that local ecosystems that affect bean flavor and aroma are changing due to climate change.

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