Today is International Coffee Day. We’ll take every
excuse, ahem, opportunity to celebrate the beverage we love. You can bet there is going to be a lot of free or discounted cups of coffee served today, but beyond taking a moment to enjoy this beloved drink, please join us in raising awareness around the social and environmental issues related to coffee.
Check out a few of our favorites:
- Cafe Feminino – helping deliver health and education services to the women & their families in coffee growing communities
- Coffee Kids – promoting health, education, food security, and economic diversification in coffee-farming communities in Latin America
- Grounds for Health – providing cervical cancer screening & prevention services in low & middle income countries
Here are just a few examples of our coffee industry friends using coffee to do good! Love it!
- Humphreys Street Coffee Co/Harvest Hands Community Development – providing jobs and mentoring for youth in South Nashville, TN
- Red Bay Coffee – transforming low-wage jobs and providing skills-based training to address income inequality
- Thanksgiving Coffee – finding ways to support sustainable coffee; identifying creative ways to reduce deforestation, mitigate climate change and improve health in coffee producing regions
- Burners: Optimizing flame control with variable gas flow control
- Fan motors: Upgrade with potentiometer for better control of fan speed and addition of air pressure gauge
- Cyclone: Add for secondary chaff collection
- Roast Profiling: Replacing analogue temp gauges with thermocouples and RoastLog for batch consistency
- Heat mass: Creating indirect heating of drum to improve uniformity of roasted coffee
Text “OPEN2” from any mobile phone to 411427
We’re back at the Speciality Coffee Association of America’s conference – in none other than Seattle, Washington. This is the one time every year that we get to meet and spend quality time with many of our users. SCAA is hands down one of our favorite events of the year. Come by and see us in booth #16083!
If you’ve visited our booth in the past, you know we always bring something new with us to SCAA… this year is no different. It’s our pleasure to announce the introduction of two new products:
The RoastLog Wireless Bluetooth Data Bridge
and accompanying iOS RoastLogger app
Both are the culmination of nearly a year of design, development and testing. In addition to the ability to log temperatures from up to four thermocouples, we have added humidity and barometric pressure recording. All of this technology has been wrapped into a device that communicates wirelessly with an iPad using the latest Bluetooth technology.
It’s been a few years since the initial introduction of RoastLog. At the time, no one else had commercialized anything quite like it. Our humble little company peaked enough interest to help us win the Best New Product Award – Open Class in 2010. The roasting community has since embraced our products.
It’s truly been amazing to witness how craft and technology have come together. The early complements and praise for our newest products have been greatly appreciated. Help us repeat for the Best New Product Award – Open Class in 2014 by casting a People’s Choice vote.
Simply text “OPEN2” from any mobile phone to 411427
Voting is open from Apr 25 at 11am to April 26 at 7pm (PST)
Needless to say, we’re particularly excited to be at the SCAA conference this year. Thanks for your continued support.
Where in the hell has the RoastLog team been? It’s a good question. As can be seen in the dates of our blog posts, we’ve been fairly quiet (at least publicly) for almost a year. Why? There are a couple of big reasons:
- Our inventory system has undergone a massive update and finally went live about two weeks ago.
- We have been building, and will be launching, a Bluetooth/wireless Data Bridge and accompanying iPad application so you can trace your roast profiles wirelessly, using your iPad.
There are plenty of details to talk about, which I’ll save for another post. For now, here is an official announcement about the second item…
New iPad RoastLogger and wireless Data Bridge!
I had this idea almost as soon as the iPad was released. However, integrating external hardware (speakers, hear rate monitors, thermocouple circuit board, etc.) used to be very hard due to restrictions from Apple. A couple of years ago (maybe less?) Apple lifted those restrictions and opened up their Bluetooth API. You don’t need to understand what that means, just know that it’s now possible for anyone to talk to any arbitrary Bluetooth device from their own iOS application. After the SCAA show last year, we decided to pull the trigger and start work on a Bluetooth Low Energy version of our 4-input Data Bridge.
Building a brand new piece of hardware allowed us to critically look at our existing devices as well as other devices on the market. Our goals were:
- rock solid temperature stability with minimal noise
- accuracy within 1ºC
- addition of barometric pressure measurement
- addition of relative humidity measurement
- four TC readings which work with any type of TC
We took delivery of our first two prototype boards about six weeks ago. I’m very happy to report that we exceeded all of our goals. Testing has shown these devices to be within 0.3ºC of a handheld Fluke meter (which are really awesome, but not wireless :) ) over a 24 hour period. On top of that, it’s great seeing the pressure and humidity readings alongside the temperatures (we’re quite curious to see how roasters digest and use these two new data points.) Manufacturing is proceeded as planned and we should have the first batch ready to go in time for the SCAA show.
Roast on your iPad
What’s awesome hardware without awesome software? Similar to the Data Bridge, building a brand new app on iOS allowed us to critically look at our software and other roasting software on the market. Having over four years of real-world feedback was great help since we knew about things which worked and those which needed some work. Taking all of this data we hired a fantastic user experience designer and an equally awesome visual designer to come up with RoastLogger iPad.
There are a few main screens, but the main one is this, the active roast screen. This page was designed to show as much information as possible without overwhelming the user. Fitting in all of the data to one screen without making it cluttered and clunky is not an easy task. We went through several iterations over a few months. I feel that landed on a very solid design and UX.
One of the key elements on this screen is the events tab down at the bottom. Users can enter as many customized events as they like. For example, “gas up”, “air 50/50”, etc. All of your events will be displayed down at the bottom in a horizontal bar. Have a lot of events? No problem, simply scroll over to the right to find the one you’re looking for, tap it and you’re done. In the case that you’d like to add an arbitrary event, you can simply tap the + button on the right side.
In addition to this, we support dropping a “pin” at arbitrary location to start a second timer, heating rate (rate of rise) is displayed on the chart in addition to the display, and roast energy is also shown in the right column display. There’s plenty of more stuff, which you can see first-hand at our booth at the SCAA show in a couple of weeks. We’re quite excited to show this off and think that this application will be the ones that other roasting software are compared to.
If there’s one thing I hate, it’s a stale blog. We haven’t updated this blog in a while and it’s time to change that!
As always, we had a fantastic time at the SCAA conference and returned home with a very clear direction of what this year will look like in terms of innovation and updates for RoastLog. The conference is always a big recharge for us as the feedback we receive is always very very positive. Since coming back, we’ve worked on a couple of tasty treats in the form of a RoastLogger update.
RoastLogger 2.3.1 has some significant improvements to the way events are displayed as well as some new data to help you during your roasting.
Up until now, any event you would mark on the plot would be displayed in a table. Now, these events are marked on the curve just as they are on the website. What’s better, when you are roasting you will be prompted with details on the upcoming event 30 seconds before it occurs. In addition to this, hovering over the event “dots” will display the details for the specific event, making it easier than ever to know what you did previously.
Some time ago a user suggested displaying “Roast energy” in real-time. We loved this idea and made it happen.
In case you’ve never used or seen the “Roast energy” value it can be found on any roast detail page and is a measure of how much total heat energy you applied to a coffee during the roast. If a roast has a higher “Roast energy”, it was subject to more heat energy than a roast with a lower “Roast energy” number. We’re excited to hear how roasters use this new metric. If you prefer to not see this it’s easy to toggle if off via the “View” menu. With it on, this number will update in real-time during roasting.
Thanks to again to everyone who came out to talk with us in Boston! For all of our existing users, enjoy these new updates. Feedback is always welcomed.
I’m excited to be writing about some very cool new features in our latest version of RoastLogger, our client application which roasters use to log hundreds of roasts each day all over the world.
Roast Profile Translation / Zoom at Temperature
If you’ve followed @RoastLog on Twitter, you may have seen me mention “Roast Profile Translation” more than a few times. We learned about this idea from @N3Roaster on his YouTube channel, where he explicitly mentioned that he hoped other profiling software would incorporate this idea. I recommend watching his video but, if you don’t, the synopsis is: Coffee roasted with the same profile *after* a certain time/temperature produces the same results regardless of what the roasting profile looked like *before* that point.
In RoastLogger 2.3, what you now can do is set a temperature at which you’d like your background profile and current profile translated (I’ll use “zooming-at-temperature” and “Temperature zoom” interchangeably with “translation,” although our feature is implemented a bit differently than Typica‘s).
Here’s what will happen if you have this feature enabled, provided you have a profile in the background. Assume you have a set point of 250°F, and that you hit that temperature at 9:00 (nine minutes exactly).
- The plot will be zoomed in such that the starting point on the x-axis is 9:00. This will be the minimum value.
- The background profile will be shifted forward or backward (“translated”) such that its starting value is 250°F.
- The plot’s maximum value will simply accommodate the background profile.
- The current profile will continue to be drawn as the roast progresses past 9:00.
To translate the background profile, there are three scenarios:
- The background profile hit 250°F at 9:00 (exactly the same as the current plot…highly unlikely)
- The background profile hit 250°F before 9:00
- The background profile hit 250°F after 9:00
Translation forward or backward results in lining up the charts so that you can compare the actual shape of the profile regardless of the overall time at which these profiles took place. As I mentioned before, and as Neal mentions in his video, the idea is that, if the profiles look exactly the same in the final few minutes of the profile (after chemical change), it doesn’t matter if one roast took 15 minutes and the other 16 minutes. The final minutes have the biggest impact. I’m looking forward to hearing what our users do with this feature. It has been useful for Neal, so my guess is that it will be useful for other roasters. I’d also like to thank Neal for publishing this video and encouraging its adoption in other software system like ours.
Logging temperature buckets
Another significant feature in this release is what I’m calling temperature buckets. We’ve had a few requests for data concerning how long a roaster has been “on”:
- How long was my roaster roasting coffee between two dates?
- How long was my roaster running (“on”) between two dates?
- How many hours has the Jim Bob Roaster spent roasting coffee?
Now, when you have RoastLogger running, it will keep track of all this data and periodically radio the information to roastlog.com. Provided your roaster is at 122°F (50°C) or above, RoastLogger will keep track of how long your roaster was in a particular temperature range. All you need to do is to make sure that RoastLogger is running and that you’re logged in. RoastLogger will take care of the rest, behind the scenes. There is going to be some *really* useful data coming from this feature, and I suspect users will appreciate and benefit from seeing what their machines are doing as a function of time.
*Note, I still need to build the front-end component so users can run this report, but getting the data here is the first and most complicated step.
There are some other updates and bug fixes in this release which simply make RoastLogger better…minor changes, bug fixes, etc.
Users can download these in the usual locations:
When RoastLog launched at the SCAA show in Anaheim in April 2010, we had a cupping module. No doubt, recording data and keeping detailed records on how you roast is important for several reasons. One of the most important is that you can produce better tasting coffee.
At the time, we thought we had a design which was pretty slick. Go to a page for a particular roast and see all of the cupping notes for that individual roast, define custom cupping forms, compare different roasts and their cupping scores, etc. Neato! However, what we found was that nobody used it. A few folks poked at it, but nobody was really using it in a serious way. When the time came for us to do a UI and database overhaul to support our inventory system, we ripped out the cupping component. It was clear that what we built wasn’t quite right. Our intent was to put it back in eventually, once we had a clearer idea of what the feature should look like and do.
Over time, more and more users were asking, “What about cupping?” They were saying, “I need cupping notes!!!”
A few weeks ago Linsey went out of town for week, so Ryan and I sat down together and did a Cupping Hackathon over the course of three days. In only three days of focused effort, we cranked out a usable cupping module. I’m excited to say that as of yesterday, we’ve pushed this to our live site and cupping is back!
What does our cupping module consist of?
- Define custom cupping forms (SCAA, COE, Jim Bob’s Awesome Cupping Form, etc.)
- Use between zero and 10 fields per form
- Each form comes with a field for descriptors, general notes and a final score, by default
- Cup one or more roasts at a time
- You can cup roasts multiple times
- Different users can attach their own unique cupping forms to a roast, regardless of the form used
- Search through cupping notes and scores, by
- Final score
- Field name/value (ie, “Acidity”, 7.5+)
- Descriptor (ie, “sweet, cherries”)
Since we are constantly coming up with additional ideas for enhancing this module, we’ve built the original to be easily and quickly iterated and improved. The cupping module we offer now is designed much better than before. We look forward to seeing how it is used and to hearing our users’ feedback and suggestions.