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Reflections on 9+ years

April 20, 2017
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Today the RoastLog team is flying out to Seattle for the annual SCA Conference (note, it’s hard not to type “SCAA”).  This years marks the eighth year that we have officially exhibited at the conference, and the ninth one if you count our appearance in Atlanta.

In 2009 Linsey and I crashed shared a booth at SCAA Atlanta with a friend and setup shop with two Data Bridge prototypes and a couple of laptops. Our goal there was simply to vet the idea. I remember mentioning to him, “I think this idea could actually work.” Putting it in front of people, there was an immediate resonance for many. Some didn’t quite get it, but 2009 is a lifetime ago in terms of technology. Adopting cloud-based systems was much less comfortable back then. Still, we had a great response. I remember Linsey hacksawing some enclosures we bought at Radio Shack just so the Data Bridges weren’t bare PCBs sitting on the desks. Our software worked, but was far from beautiful.

In 2010 we showed up in Anaheim with a very new product and in fact, the first system of it’s kind.  Back then, the notion of roasting coffee using software and then uploading it to the cloud was unheard of.  While roasting software existed in 2009-2010, we were the first to take a SAAS approach. Between SCAA 2009 and 2010 I put in a ton of work and got RoastLog ready for commercial use. That year we won the SCAA Best New Product Award in the “Open” category and thus began our official entry into the marketplace.

RoastLog has always been, and still is, a labor of love.

Since 2008, both Linsey and I have spent varying amounts of time on it.  Both of us have at points taken time away from work to dedicate to RoastLog, he from his Product and Sales positions and me from my Software Engineering/Architecture roles.

Even though RoastLog hasn’t always been our full-time jobs one thing has persisted:

We continue to evolve RoastLog, investing time, energy and money because we believe in the product and love working with our customers.

Life is constantly busy for us both. Births, deaths, full-time jobs, houses….since launching RoastLog there has been, between the two of us:

  • One marriage (me)
  • Four kids born (two each)
  • Four houses purchased
  • One cross state move (CA -> CO)
  • Four job changes

I will fully admit there are many times where I’ve wanted to pull the plug and regain some free time. However, throughout all of this we keep going and one thing remains:

 

RoastLog continues to grow and will never go away

This year we’ve continued to add new customers (some of which come over from other systems) and add more improvements into RoastLog. It’s difficult to remember all the things we’ve done over the past year, but here are a few

  • Launched a Samples module, allowing users to track samples grading, purchasing decisions, etc.
  • Ability to manage custom descriptors in our cupping module
  • Updates and improvements to reporting
  • Streamlining of new user signups
  • Infrastructure and security improvements
  • Updates and fixes for our Bluetooth iPad application
  • Building of a second batch of Bluetooth Data Bridges
  • Other things I’m not remembering

I originally started working on this idea around 2008 while I roasted coffee for myself on my Diedrich IR7. It was nothing more than a Type-K thermocouple hooked to an Arduino and supported chips, along with a Python terminal program which spit out reading on my screen every second. Remembering this I’m amazed and encouraged how far RoastLog has come.

For 2017-2018 I’m very optimistic with what we’ll be able to produce and what our roadmap looks like.RoastLog will always be an innovator in this space and we will always strive to one thing, being simply better.

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Onsite Green Inventory – A balancing act

January 17, 2017

Low inventory notification based on realtime roasting data!

Managing green coffee inventory is as much art as it’s science. Maintaining the right balance of inventory to satisfy your production needs without taking up precious roastery space or putting excessive pressure on finances, can be a juggling act.

At RoastLog we’re constantly looking for even the simplest way to help our users find that balance.  From the inventory page, users get a visual cue for coffees that will likely run out within the next week (yellow highlight) or are at critical levels and need to be addressed (red).

At-a-glance – time to check onsite stock!

From there, decide if it’s time to:

  • transfer coffee from your importer or offsite warehouse
  • schedule a delivery
  • archive the coffee

This is the first of many notification tools coming from RoastLog.  More to come!


We continue to create features to help inform your business decisions.

Like what you see?  Want to see more?  Let us know

Managing all the Details – Coffee producer & contract details

November 30, 2016

Producer/Farmer & Contract details all under one roof!

Green coffee purchasing decisions can be complicated; and in many respects, it’s what sets apart the best cafes and roasteries. Now it’s possible to collect and organize all the details related to your coffees in one place.

In addition to details about bean lots, cultivation, processing and physical attributes, RoastLog now manages additional producer and contract-related information.

Screenshot of Producer & Contract details for a new bean lot.

Screen capture of Producer & Contract Details on new bean lot page.

Producer info:
  • Producer/Farmer name
  • Region
  • geocoordinates
  • elevation
Contract details:
  • pricing
  • purchase order number
  • importer
  • contract number
  • delivery/warehouse Terms
  • sample types
  • Contract terms
  • contract date
  • crop year

We’ve even made an effort to help you organize the alphabet soup of acronyms found on purchase contracts.

Here are the predefined list of delivery/warehouse terms:

Warehouse/Delivery terms

Here are the contract terms:

Contract terms

There’s even a list of different sample types:

Sample Types


We’re working hard to make RoastLog the best way to manage your green inventory. Let us know how we’re doing!

 

Roasting Progress – Looking beyond time & temperature

August 12, 2016

Understanding roasting events based on when they occur

Time and temperature of roast events, e.g., first crack, provide significant details for understanding roast development. Looking at first crack and other roasting milestones through another lens, can help shed light on how these events impact cup quality.

Within the details page for any batch of roasted coffee, one will find a slew of information – time/temperature curves, of course, and other granular detail such as batch size, bean lot details, shrinkage, cost of roasted coffee, and roasting event milestones among others.

Focusing on the list of events in the table below the chart for the moment, you’ll notice a new method for quantifying when these events occurred in relationship to overall roasting time. These events now include the “roast progress” as a percentage of total recording time.

Rather than solely relying on time and temperature for roasting events, users can evaluate when key events occur relative to the overall roast.


Something else you’d like to see?  Let us know

Measure the Roast Energy in every batch

May 31, 2016

Understanding the overall amount of energy transferred from equipment to beans

We’ve introduced a unique way of representing the amount of energy inputted into a given roast. Comparing the overall Roast Energy from one roast to the next might be a convenient metric to measure batch consistency. We also have a hunch that it may be handy for understanding milestone events by adding a dimension beyond time & temperature.

As displayed in the RoastLogger for iPad app

In the future, we hope that RoastLog users paying closer attention to the roast energy between key roasting events will be able to draw stronger links between flavor and roast profiles. For example, analyzing Roast Energy during the ‘Caramelization Phase’ (Maillard Reaction) or ‘Roast Development Phase’ (first crack –> drop) and comparing these values between roasts.


What do you think?  Useful?  Let us know

Support for blind cupping is here!

February 8, 2016

Blind cupping is now supported in RoastLog!

When initiating a cupping session, blind cupping is turned on by default. If your cupping session doesn’t require masking the identity of your coffees, display the names with a simple click of a button.

Now you see it…

Roastable names displayed

Click to display Roastable names.

Now you don’t…

Roastable name hidden by default

Cupping forms are initially configured for blind cupping.


We’re working hard to make RoastLog invaluable for running your roastery. Let us know how we’re doing!

 

RoastLog now Supports Role-based Software Permissions

January 6, 2016

Perms_Logo_Monitor

To give you complete control over your sensitive info in RoastLog, we are glad to introduce our latest feature: role-based permissions.

This feature enables the creation of customized views and the selective sharing of information while providing control over the editing, viewing, sharing, deletion and creation of specific data within RoastLog.  The best thing of all: the permissions feature is now available to our current users and a standard feature of all subscription plans.

Go ahead, enter that info

Given the proper tools, collecting business-related data is relatively straightforward.  Analyzing that data, on the other hand, is completely a different story (and potentially a topic for a future blog post).  And so, while info gathering is being made easier and more automated thanks to software like RoastLog, not everyone in your business needs the same amount of information to do their job.

Moreover, perhaps you want to restrict the information you share with some of your staff, business partners (e.g., importers or producers), or in some cases, even your clients.  This is where software permissions come in handy.

User_permissions_shortcut

When less is more (efficient)

One of the hallmarks of good business software is providing users with visibility to information in a format that is easy to understand.  In a perfect world, the system would display exactly what someone needs to do their job effectively, and nothing more.  As the saying goes, “more isn’t necessarily better”.  A clean, intuitive user interface, leads to greater efficiency and less frustration for the user.  The option to display/hide particular info within the software is a means to this end.

Choose what they see

Then there are times when it’s simply necessary to limit information – surely the case when it comes to your sales and financial data as well as details about your products and suppliers.  Coffee data management has its own unique set of requirements ranging from growing region, bean cultivation, and processing methods to the ICO number, lot info, purchase prices, and blend recipes – just to name a few.  While this type of data is important for managing your business, it’s probably not critical to day-to-day operations.  Now, Admin-level users in RoastLog can decide what info makes sense to share and then apply customized permissions for each individual user.

Permission_Examples

We’re excited to announce role-based permissions for information creation, editing, viewing, sharing and deletion.  You can now confidently provide business partners and team members visibility to exactly what they need.  Hope you enjoy this feature as much as we enjoyed designing it.

 

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