The March 1, Analytical Chemistry Journal will include details of a coffee machine designed to taste espresso for quality, reports this a blog calling itself “World Science.”

Can a machine taste coffee? The question has plagued scientists studying the caffeinated beverage for decades. Researchers say they can now answer with a resounding “yes.” A study on their coffee-tasting machine is scheduled for the March 1 issue of Analytical Chemistry, a research journal.

For the food industry, “electronic tasters” like these could prove useful as quality control devices to monitor food production and processing, scientists say.

Christian Lindinger and colleagues at Nestlé Research in Switzerland noted that coffee scientists have long been searching for instrumental approaches to complement and eventually replace human sensory profiling.

However, the multi sensory experience from drinking a cup of coffee makes it a particular challenge for flavor scientists trying to replicate these sensations on a machine, they added: more than 1,000 substances may contribute to the complex aroma of coffee.

The new machine as sessed the taste and aromatic qualities of espresso coffee nearly as accurately as a panel of trained human espresso tasters, the study reported.

It analyzed gases released by a heated espresso sample, then transformed the most pertinent chemical information into taste qualities like roasted, flowery, woody, toffee and acidity.

“This work represents significant progress in terms of correlation of sensory with instrumental results exemplified on coffee,” the authors wrote.

And why not? I ask. I suspect that there is probably a more useful and lucrative application for this sort of device in other areas of food production, but if my espresso machine can taste my first few shots in the morning to make sure that the flavor is within predefined parameters. Who am I to complain?