Data Science: A tool for making better decisions


They say that behind every successful person, there is tons of coffee.

Coffee is the beverage of choice for many of us. Today a coffee drinker faces a ‘choice overload’ problem – there are too many varieties, blends, and roasts to choose from. Is there a way to simplify this problem? How can data science help us to streamline our choices without sacrificing individual preferences?

Data science refers to knowledge discovery from large volumes of structured or unstructured data. Through advancements in computing, and thanks to the Internet, data science continues to inform us about patterns and trends observed in our behaviors. With the help from data science, we can get an insight into our own subjective likes and dislikes (regarding coffee of choice) by continuous, quantified observation of our behaviors.

A five year old startup company from Brooklyn, ‘Coffee Craft’ has harnessed the power of data science to provide their customer coffee beans of their choice. The Coffee Craft is a subscription service that offers the flexibility of buying coffee beans based on a previous choice or trying new coffee beans matching to individual preference.

Michael Horn, founder of Coffee Craft, and his team undertook ‘Coffee DNA Project’ where they tasted coffee from independent coffee roasters across the globe to identify traits and flavor profiles of various coffee beans.  Further, the company had surveyed coffee drinkers to understand their customers’ preferences, which was crucial to launch their subscription service. While signing up for this coffee buying service, a new customer fills out a short survey about coffee preferences.

Based upon these surveys, qualified data scientists striving for company success have created an algorithm that suggests the customer new coffee roasts to buy. The ‘Coffee Craft’ service can then send sampler packs of the newly suggested coffee to their customers. Later, the customers rate these new coffee beans each month, thereby adding more data to their profile. This continuous addition of data helps the customer to get personalized suggestions and thereby a satisfying cup of coffee each day. For a customer oblivious to the pattern of their own choices, the company’s suggestion about a particular coffee might bring a surprise and joy.

Using this novel approach of combining data science with the choice of a beverage, the Coffee Craft has sold over 50,000 pounds of coffee. Additionally, it has consistently enjoyed support from the investors. Local businesses, in particular independent coffee roasters, have benefitted from the Coffee Craft’s ventures and are now appreciated by coffee drinkers from all over the country. To sum up, data science contributed significantly in making right decisions for the company and their customers.

The success of Coffee Craft will hopefully inspire other startups to use the expertise of freelance data scientists, and use available data to identify, update and cater according to the customer preferences. The subscription service model is adopted by companies selling beauty products, fashion accessories, and even wines. We will continue to experience the problem of choice overload, but hopefully, data science will continue to be our savior.

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About Author

Aditi is an expert in the field of mind-body interactions. After completing a PhD in Human Physiology from the University of Oregon, her research focused on physiological changes associated with emotional blunting and stress. Apart from science, she is interested in food writing, art and art history.

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