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- 01-20-2017, 07:22 PM #1
What Software do you use to Manage your Coffee Roasting Business?
Any advice would be much appreciated! On a similar note, if you could wave a magic wand, what software would you create to save your business both time and money?
- 01-22-2017, 12:34 PM #2
My question would be, why do you need the software? What's it going to do for you that you can't do with a pencil and paper? I'm not saying this to be provocative, I just think we've gotten so software dependent that we've come to think that we can't do anything without it. I leaned that way in the past but the reality of a busy business has caused me to rethink things.
In my 400 sq. ft. roastery I can just look around and see what my coffee inventory is, and what I need to order. When I open my last box of coffee bags I order 4 more boxes. I do the same with my adhesive labels and my mailing pouches. Boom -- done in 60 seconds.
By the way, this is not to say that I don't use some software. For instance I have an Excel sheet I've developed that I plug in the, for instance, 1,856 bags of coffee on order for this week (across 5 different types of retail coffee) and it tells me how many roasts I need of each type of coffee to fill all the orders.
All that said, if you're a home roaster I can see where playing around with roast profile software could be quite fun and informative. And if you've hired someone to roast who you want to follow a specific roast profile I can see where that's beneficial. But if you're running a small roasting business is it really going to help you that much? Is it going to save time or waste time? I don't know, you'd have to decide for yourself but IMHO I don't see where the software is going to be much of a benefit. Let me say for the record though that I've never used roasting/inventory software.
And that said, I used to create different roasting schedules in Excel and spend all kinds of time crunching numbers. But then I bought an old 8' x 4' chalkboard and that's saved me a lot of time and made things much easier. Everything is on the blackboard. You can see it at a glance. And what a good feeling when I erase this customer's order for 550 bags and that customer's order for 220 bags and another customer's order for . . . well, you get the picture.
Oh, also I have one secret weapon you may not have. She's The Lovely & Talented Roast Mistress. And if you want consistency you can't beat her 5 senses with software. In fact one barista, very passionate about his coffee, and with 14 years of experience.., sent us an email last week saying this [in part], "On a personal note, I'm really enjoying using your coffee. The consistency soothes my soul."
So for a small roaster I think the software will cost you time and money, not save any. I'm sure a lot of folks will disagree with me, I'm looking forward to seeing what others have to say, but that's my two cents worth.
Last edited by expat; 01-22-2017 at 12:39 PM.Wrinkles only go where the smiles have been -- Jimmy Buffett (via Mark Twain)
- 01-29-2017, 05:58 PM #3
"And that said, I used to create different roasting schedules in Excel and spend all kinds of time crunching numbers. But then I bought an old 8' x 4' chalkboard and that's saved me a lot of time and made things much easier. Everything is on the blackboard. You can see it at a glance. And what a good feeling when I erase this customer's order for 550 bags and that customer's order for 220 bags and another customer's order for . . . well, you get the picture."
^^ doesn't sound scalable to me...As my business grows, I don't think that'll work.
- 01-31-2017, 04:25 PM #4
I use quickbooks' parts sold summary report and export it to Excel. I wrote an Excel macro to walk through that report data and populate a grid of what I need to roast and package. Works great and is a secondary check to prevent mistakes. If the bags left over doesn't match the spreadsheet, there's a mistake somewhere.
- 01-31-2017, 05:36 PM #5
Thanks for sharing your thoughts trk_koa. I'm not an Excel person. Is there software out there that can help manage this kind of process?
- 02-02-2017, 05:53 PM #6
- 02-02-2017, 07:34 PM #7
Do you mind giving me some insights into what field attributes/columns I should have in my Excel spreadsheets? I'm trying to set up macros myself.
- 02-04-2017, 04:37 PM #8
I was a software developer in a past life so.....
I used MySQL and created an extensive coffee database that tracks everything.
o Inbound bags of green beans
o Outbound bags of roasted beans
What this allows me to do is .... just about anything I want, including:
1. Track green & roasted inventory at the push of a button.
2. Look at my month-on-month sales and profitability.
3. Track customer usage (with automatic loyalty program).
4. Compare roast losses with different bags of the same green coffee.
5. Find previous similar old roasts, so I know how a current roast should behave.
I'm currently working on an HTML front-end so data entry is more friendly.
I'm also trying to add a new thermocouple to my roaster so the roast data not only shows up using Artisan but also is recorded automatically in my database.
It's all a labor of love and I probably couldn't justify the amount of work I have done on this.
I just couldn't stand not really knowing how my business was going.
I used to keep stuff on paper. Lots and lots of paper.
- 02-04-2017, 08:47 PM #9
That's very impressive! Sadly, not many coffee roasters are as tech savvy as you are. Many small coffee roasters I spoke with still rely on pen and paper to run their business...when software can potentially save their business so much resources and improve their business in the long run.
I'm thinking of hiring a developer to help me build a custom software, as I'd like to build a data-driven coffee business. You already mentioned a couple of uses. If you could wave a magic wand, what would an ideal coffee roaster software solution look like? One thing I can imagine is having a customer CRM to manage different accounts.
If anybody else has any thoughts, please let me know!
- 02-10-2017, 01:46 PM #10
A good paper system works to a point, but a good computer system can produce measurable improvements in batch to batch production consistency even when the roaster is still being operated manually. Having production records in a database also makes it easier to extract relevant information to use to make better business decisions in several areas. When I got to the point where paper and spreadsheets were no longer a great fit I looked around at what was available and discovered that I didn't really like any of it, so I wrote Typica and released that as free open source software in 2007. While the feature set for use at a production roaster is mature and used at many roasting companies throughout the world, it's still under ongoing development with new features being added and old features being improved. The records are saved to a PostgreSQL database (most just run the installer and have that on the same computer that's running Typica but larger companies can have that running on a separate machine on the network so that any number of computers running Typica in your company can connect to that) and it works with several different pieces of data acquisition hardware to collect measurement data from the roaster. It's also highly customizable and works on Mac/Windows/Linux. There are a lot more options now so even if Typica doesn't fit what you need, I'd find it hard to recommend reinventing the wheel.
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