Crops, Hops and Coffee

There are a wide range of potential applications for the Sagitto system. For example, Sagitto can be used to quickly measure key parameters in a wide variety of hydroponic and outdoor crops, through a rapid scan of plant leaf material. And plant breeders are using it to speed their trials and identify valuable new phenotypes faster.



New Zealand has an extensive hop breeding history that has created hops with unique flavour characteristics

New Zealand hops, ripening in sunny Nelson


Alpha and Beta Acids, Moisture, and Oil in Hops

The female flowers - or 'cones' - on hop vines are rich in terpenoid essential oils and terpenophenolic resins. These 'alpha acids' give hops their characteristic bitter flavour. Hops with a higher percentage alpha acid content will contribute more bitterness than a lower alpha acid hop when using the same amount of hops.

The total alpha and beta acid percentage, moisture, and oil content varies between varieties and within specific varieties (depending on factors such as seasonal growing conditions, drying methods, and the point at which the hops are harvested.)

This demonstration model measures the percentage of alpha acids in hop trichomes, using near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy (900nm-1700nm).

"Sagitto’s system of miniaturised, portable NIR, paired with their data science service has presented HPA with the opportunity to reduce turnaround times for sample analysis, and will significantly reduce the use of organic solvent for the brewing industry standard hop acid analyses required to manage harvest and processing of our hops. With Sagitto’s data science service the predictive models are living entities, which allows us smoothly integrate model maintenance into our calibration system so that the analytical output is of equivalent quality to established brewing industry standard methods of analysis. Sagitto have demonstrated quality, flexibility and awesome turnaround times for model generation and revision. "
Dr Simon Whittock, Hop Products Australia

Dried Herbs

We refer to this model as our 'Scarborough Fair' model - it classifies dried herb samples into parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme (and a few others ;-)


Each dried herb sample has a unique NIR fingerprint.


Not all dried herbs are what they claim to be. Some are adulterated with cheaper substitutes.

NIR spectroscopy can be used to select the optimum roasting degree, and ensure consistent roasting between batches.

Coffee Roasting Degree

This model classifies ground coffee beans according to the coffee roaster, and the batch. Its not a very useful model in itself, but it does illustrate how near infrared spectroscopy can be used by more technically sophisticated coffee roasters to ensure that they produce an objectively consistent product.

Many specialised coffee roasters change their blends according to availability of particular beans. For example, the graph at left shows how the 'Rocket Espresso' house blend at Rocket Coffee changed when they altered the mix of beans in the 31 October roast, and then again when the blend was changed for the 4 November roast.