Fundamentally, the coffee industry relies on experimentation to improve its techniques and processes. Coffee roasting is the primary example of this. From the transfer of heat to the amount of time set at one specific temperature and then there’s the desire to achieve a specific hue, roasting is all about the art of experimentation.
But what happens when you’ve found the ideal batch and you wish to create it more than once? Or maybe 10, 20, or 50 times? It’s nearly impossible. That is unless you’ve collected data that details your newly-found roast profile and those metrics can be applied time and time again.
But data collection is much more than metrics. Roasting while capturing metrics allows you to have greater flexibility and confidence. Using the same beans, you can evaluate multiple profiles and examine their differences based on small changes such as temperature and heat distribution.
Whether you’re a coffeehouse owner or an independent distributor, data collection will be your primary tool in achieving the same ideal taste one roast after the next.
When Consistency is Key — Why Numerical Data Matters
Developing your sense of smell, sight, and relationship with the bean is the most critical aspect of roasting. Before becoming hooked on data logging software and even long after, these traits must not replace or discredit your own senses. Rather, data logging is a tool for referencing your craft. Just like mixing two shades of paint together to achieve the perfect tone. It’s also like a recipe that can be altered in more than one way. Ultimately, your craft as an artist should never be put on the backburner.
The data gathered during roasting will help you achieve a roast profile you’re proud of and hope to achieve again. It can also be used for many other aspects of the business such as for your fellow roastmasters, patrons, and to increase your sales.
Replicating a batch can be very difficult without data. Especially when you’re asking someone else to achieve the same quality batch. With readily available data, staff at all levels can enjoy knowing they’ll be dealing with a consistent batch. This applies to the roastmasters, baristas, and anyone involved in the production.
Patrons return to coffeehouses for the cup they know and love. Being able to deliver that taste they’re familiar with and know well, especially after having tried others, you’ll be able to satisfy their taste buds with ease. Consistency is one of the most prominent driving forces behind customer loyalty. Just think about the spots you frequent. A lot of why you return has to do with knowing what you’re getting.
As you keep track of purchases, you’ll begin to notice purchasing trends. Perhaps one product is outperforming another. This information will open doors for improvement, allowing you to define your weak points just as clearly as your strong suits.
Software to Capture Data
Before investing in a coffee roasting data software, consider exploring the many options that are out there. The beauty of all San Franciscan roasters is that they have the ability to include your choice of software into your roaster. As you progress and discover the information you’re looking to capture, your needs for a data logger will ultimately change. Cropster and Artisan are two examples of brilliant data-logging software tools that we consistently recommend to roastmasters.
If you’re looking for a more detailed data logging tool, consider Cropster. Cropster is an expansive software tool for data collection during roasting. What makes Cropster unique is it is a subscription based platform, which gives you the option to pay for it only when you need it. The company also provides excellent client support to guide you as you utilize it. Cropster is an online management system that allows you to capture profiles. Everything from bean temperature, environmental temperature, airflow, and duration can be collected for future use and to alter profiles based on results. Cropster describes its capturing techniques as giving you the ability to capture “from first crack to the end” then adjusting your technique as you wish!
Artisan records, analyzes, and helps control roast profiles, all of which will result in the same, consistent flavor. With the capacity to store data, you’ll have a central, readily-available set of metrics that can be shared with your team or if you work alone, for your own reference. What’s also useful about this open-source software is that it captures roast profile evaluations and statistics. After completing a roast, Artisan will calculate specific statistics that took place during the roasting phase.
With so many great data-logging software available today, we’re sure you’ll discover one that works best for you. It’s all about finding a program you feel comfortable with, meets your needs, and one you find to be user-friendly. The ultimate goal is to make data-logging more feasible and easily accessible. We’re curious to hear about other software you’ve tested!
Record, Repeat: Tracking and Comparing Data
Coffee roasting is physics at play. With so many variables working together to create the perfect roast, keeping track of the process and the changes that influence the outcome is one way of comparing and identifying quality. Quantitative measures in the form of data collection allow you to analyze coffee roasting in greater detail. And with this data comes the ability to repeat your coffee roasting techniques for greater control and ultimately consistent roasting. Think of it as the perfect set of directions to your home. They’re there to be followed but a detour is never out of the question.
Applying Data to Your Practice: One Final Word
Tracking your roasts can be as valuable to your own insight as it is to the bottom line of your business. Consistency is an ingredient that holds value to independent and coffeehouse roastmasters alike. Data is the gathered information that allows you to refer to the knowledge and set of practices you’ve developed through time and experimentation. Replicating them is now only a matter of pulling up your roast profile and controlling the process with your own senses and unique craft, which will always be key.
If you’re in the market for a roaster with the capacity to log data with any software or tool, connect with us here at The San Franciscan Roaster Company.