In 2016, Aldi Raharja returned to Indonesia after two years of working as a geophysicist in Australia. He decided to change his career path and become an entrepreneur by 0pening a coffee shop in his hometown, Bandung. “Local coffee was gaining popularity back then. I sourced coffee beans from local producers in West Java,” Raharja told KrASIA.
Along the way, he noticed that the coffee beans’ quality was inconsistent. Often, the quality would go down when he placed repeat orders, even if the initial batch was good. “When I asked the producers, they said the beans went through the same production process, so they didn’t know why the outcome was different. Since the production was done manually, there was no data and definite standard for the quality of the beans,” he said.
To understand the coffee production process, Raharja spent several months working on a coffee plantation with local farmers. He found that there were no quality standards or processes to create consistency in the output. The only solution, he believed, was to create new methods to record each step of production to monitor the entire production system.
Raharja enrolled in a master’s program in industrial engineering at Bandung Institute of Technology in 2017. This is where he met Ahmad Radhy and Azmy Ansor, who became his co-founders when they established a startup called CeriTech Indonesia in 2018, with Raharja serving as CEO. The company is developing a cloud-based device called CeriTech IoT to monitor and control the process of coffee beans’ fermentation and drying, which are critical steps in coffee production.
The device records temperature levels, humidity, and light intensity during the drying process, as well as pH levels during the fermentation process. CeriTech IoT is connected to a mobile app so that users can check the data in real-time. “The system is equipped with an alarm feature so that if the temperature doesn’t match the ideal level, users will be notified through the app,” said Raharja. The company has partnered with ten coffee producers in Java and Aceh to test the device, and CeriTech IoT is now ready for commercialization.
The startup is also developing a B2B e-commerce platform called CeriTech Trade Commerce, where it sells coffee beans that have been processed using its IoT devices to suppliers, coffee shops, and coffee roasters. The platform will be launched in the second half of 2022.
“Buyers who buy in large quantities usually need to conduct field surveys to ensure the beans’ quality before placing orders. This is a hassle that we want to solve. The quality of our coffee beans is guaranteed. It can be checked through the data obtained from CeriTech IoT,” said Raharja. He plans to market the e-commerce platform to overseas buyers as well. CeriTech will take a 10% fee from every product sold on its e-commerce platform.
For CeriTech IoT, the company applies two business models. For small and medium-sized coffee producers who have limited capital, the company will lease the device to them at no cost. The farmers, however, will have to sell their produce on CeriTech’s e-commerce platform with a 10% fee paid to the company. Meanwhile, major producers can purchase the device at prices that depend on the size of their harvest.
CeriTech was among the ten finalists of the second Alibaba Cloud x KrASIA Global Startup Accelerator Indonesia Demo Day that was held on December 21.
Moving forward, the firm is also developing a feature called CeriTech Roaster that helps roasters record, analyze, and control roast profiles. “The feature will serve as quality control and quality assessment for roasters. It will launch next year and will be integrated with CeriTech IoT and CeriTech Trade Commerce,” said Raharja.