Coffee Enthusiasts Take Note: GE’s FirstBuild™ Challenge Spurs Coffee Roasting Innovation for Home Use

LOUISVILLE, Ky.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–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.

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
    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.”

“Autodesk Fusion 360 was created for exactly the type of design
disruption that this challenge celebrates,” said Mike Geyer, Autodesk
director of Evangelism & Emerging Technology. “It’s a tool that’s
well-suited to the new ways of making products—empowering every stage of
the design process from concept to fabrication.”

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 Maria’s.

About FirstBuild

GE’s FirstBuild is a global co-creation community that harnesses the
brainpower of the maker movement to change the way major home appliances
are conceived, designed and manufactured. A physical state-of-the-art
microfactory on the University of Louisville campus and online forum,
FirstBuild speeds products from mind to market and enables customization
through small batch production, without the costs and risks of
traditional mass manufacturing. For more information about how to get
involved, visit


For FirstBuild
Kim Freeman, 502-452-7819