Typica

Coffee and Software

The Typica blog

New Manual Entry and Import Interface

Today I finished (though I still want to do a little more testing) work on a new manual log entry feature for Typica. This will be available starting in version 1.8, which I hope will be available very soon. This replaces a much earlier implementation of the feature that was never very useful with something that is much better integrated with the rest of the program and might find several compelling uses.

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Eliminating the Configuration Prompt

Typica's configuration system is one of its most powerful features, but it's also one of the most confusing aspects of the program. A change pending for the next release should help reduce that confusion.

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Card Payment Now Available

Over the years, a lot of people have told me either in person or by email that they intended to send some money in support of the ongoing development of Typica. The vast majority of these people never followed through on that and I've long suspected that the reason for this is that I just haven't made it easy enough. Writing a check? Addressing an envelope? Dropping it in the mail? It's the 21st Century. Who does any of that stuff anymore? Typica also has a large international user base and it can be more challenging for people in other countries to send money this way. To put this in perspective, I can count on fingers the number of people who have helped cover some of the costs associated with Typica development over the past decade and as of when I'm writing this, there has been no outside financial support at all so far this year, though there have certainly been support and feature requests as well as costs.

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Batch Tag Printing

Some of the more recent changes to the New Batch window in Typica exist to make it easier for someone to write a tag to accompany a batch of coffee in a way that uniquely identifies the batch. It's always been possible to do this with just the machine ID (if using more than one coffee roasting machine) and the time stamp, but the file ID is a shorter number and easier to write down. Still, sometimes people get lazy about writing things down and someone less experienced might abbreviate the documentation to the point that it's no longer possible to tell exactly what the roasted coffee is without doing some comparison testing against known possibilities. Wouldn't it be nice if it were possible to get rid of this manual data transcription entirely?

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Now Accepting Bitcoin

Typica is free software. It's free to download, free to use, the source code is freely available and people are free to modify it to suit their needs, but ensuring that Typica remains freely available is not without cost, nor is ongoing development of the software. The vast majority of these costs are being covered out of my own pocket, but I can't afford to do all of the work that I'd like to do. Indeed, just keeping computers required to build new releases has been a challenge. One of the reasons that there has not been a 1.7.1 release yet is that the computer used to build the Mac version died shortly after building 1.7.0.

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Securing Your Roasting Plans

Today I had two contacts with very different stories connected to the concept of deletion. In one of these, had the company been using Typica it's likely that the problem never would have happened. In the other, a design decision in Typica makes correcting a mistake a little more difficult than it probably should be.

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Another Documentation Section Finished

It would be a fair criticism to say that Typica's documentation is not very good. In part this is because I know better than anybody where improvements should be made and it seems a bit wasteful to document something that's going to have significant changes in the future, but that's also not fair to people who would like to use the software. I've tried to create the software in such a way that how it's used generally makes sense. Sometimes I do better at that than others. Still, it's hard to tell people to read the manual if large parts of it haven't been written, so over the past couple days I wrote up another major documentation section. For this stretch of documentation writing I decided to focus on the reports that are included with Typica.

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Time for a New Cupping Book

For some time now I've been thinking that there's a need for updated materials on evaluating coffees. My first work on this was drafting a video series with the working title Evaluating Coffee with Purpose. Before I got around to filming that, I started to work on 60 Second Coffee Tips and discovered that the largest category of episodes that I've brainstormed for that series relate to sensory evaluation. I shouldn't be surprised. This is one of the most collaborative aspects of my work and something that plays an important role at many points from the farm, through the entire chain of custody for the coffee, all the way through post-production quality assurance. The more I worked on this, the more it became clear that I probably need to write a book.

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What is Advanced Profile Roasting?

Recently I got an email from someone who came across the term “advanced roast profiling” and wanted to know what that means. It's an interesting enough question that I decided to share my thoughts on the matter here.

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Expo Recap

Earlier this month I attended the Global Specialty Coffee Expo in Seattle, WA, which is the slightly rebranded version of the big event historically put on by the Specialty Coffee Association of America (now the Specialty Coffee Assocation). This year I had some work to do related to the Roasters Guild Education Committee, which I've been serving on and is hard at work pulling together materials for the Specialty Coffee Association's new roasting curriculum to be launched later this year. I also had the honor of being one of the judges for the United States Roaster Championship competition and needed to talk with some people on the exhibit floor for various reasons. As usual, I had some people recognize me from the Internet and ask to take a picture with me (being a celebrity is weird like that) and I got to have a lot of great conversations with people I don't see often enough.

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Sharing Roasting Plans with Typica

I've written a new article at Daily Coffee News that describes a method for creating roasting plans with one machine for use at a different one when there are differences in how these machines measure seed temperature. This is based largely on work that I did in 2012 as described in this video, but I felt the topic deserved an update now that I've been using the technique for several years, have more experience applying that to different machines, and because of a disturbing trend in the way people discuss rate of change data in coffee roasting which assumes that observations about this sort of data will be consistent across a broad range of machines when it can be demonstrated that this simply isn't true.

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Profile Printing in Typica

Recently I've gotten some questions about printing roasting data in Typica and I suspect that the reason for this is just that the interface to that feature isn't very good.

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Upcoming Classes

February 22–24 I'll be at The Lab - by Royal Coffee NY teaching the Coffee Buyers Pathway classes. This is a relatively new pathway program, taking some things that started out in the Roaster Pathway and expanding on those with an emphasis on how coffee contracts work and the tools and techniques available to align your coffee buying with your business goals.

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More Tabs for Typica

Currently there are some places in Typica where tabs are used to present a multi-page interface, but all of these are windows defined on the C++ side of the code base. If you wanted to use the configuration files to define custom interfaces that used tabs you were out of luck. Recently one of Typica's feature branches extended the processing of those configuration files to allow the creation of tab bars anywhere you want.

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Recent Work on Typica

Lately my coding work has been split between work on the Typica 2.0 code base and work on the current code base. There's nothing very interesting that I care to write about on the 2.0 side other than that work is progressing, but I have been doing some interesting things that will end up in 1.7.1 or 1.8.

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Top Posts for October, 2016

October featured a number of shorter pieces and all of the most read posts were things written that month. As usual, here's a recap of the top 5 for the month.

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A New Episode of Roast Profile Development

One of my side projects is a video series called Roast Profile Development. It's an educational series on coffee roasting, but rather than dealing with coffee roasting in general, each episode takes a specific lot of coffee and uses that to explore different concepts in coffee roasting. The goal is to present professional roasters with a variety of product development methods and approaches to thinking about coffee that they can apply when they encounter similar situations with their own coffees. This allows me to get into more advanced topics that other educational resources tend not to touch.

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Upcoming Travel

The week of October 30 through November 5 I will be less resonsive than usual to communications. I'll be working with a team of SCAA Specialized Instructors to deliver classes at the UAE International Coffee and Tea Festival in Dubai.

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Typica Tips

Sometimes people have an easier time learning how to use a program if they can see someone else using it. Because of this, I've created a number of videos that show different aspects of setting up and using Typica effectively. Sometimes this comes bundled with a coffee roasting tutorial, but in those videos the use of Typica is incidental to some broader concept or set of concepts that can be applied even if you're not using Typica or something similar. Since the release of Typica 1.7, I've put together several videos that focus more directly on Typica and how to use its features effectively. This series is called Typica Tips.

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Presentation Slides — Coffee

Last night I gave a presentation for the Racine Garden Club. They wanted me to talk about coffee without giving me much in the way of additional focus so I decided to do something that is part history, part contemporary practices, part coffee tasting, and part answering whatever questions come up.

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Mastering the Roasting Process with Profile Translation Analysis

Today a new article went up at Daily Coffee News where I've written about an old technique that I've used to help develop my own understanding of how changes in the roasting process affect what comes out in the cup. This is useful when trying to track down the source of unwanted differences between production batches and can also be used to more quickly develop the experience needed to understand how specific changes to a roasting plan can produce specific desired changes in the cup during product development.

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New Pre-Release Build

Today a third pre-release build has been made available on the Downloads page. This adds a few minor additions.

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Centerlining in Cupping - A Follow Up

Previously I wrote about an article that I wrote on applying a manufacturing practice known as centerlining to the problem of deciding how to cup coffee.

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Top Posts for September, 2016

Last month I did a recap of the top posts for August and in September that was the 2nd most read post on the blog, so if people keep reading things like that, I'll keep writing things like that. There were fewer new posts in September, but there will probably be more new posts this month.

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Introducing Threshold Annotations

If you read the source code for Typica you'll find a little class called ThresholdDetector. The idea behind this is you can create an instance of that class, connect it to a data source, and tell it a value that it should be watching for on either an ascent or a descent. When the specified conditions are met, it emits a signal which can be connected to other parts of Typica to do interesting things.

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Writing About Centerlining Your Cupping Process

On September 7 I got a message on twitter from the editor of Daily Coffee News asking if I'd be interested in writing something for them. There wasn't any guidance on topic, length, or depth, but since I had been working on a new video series I had a fair amount of material that I thought could be adapted to an article format and I decided to write about a manufacturing practice known as centerlining and how that can be applied to make cupping practices within a company better. Today that article went live.

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Training Available

One of the most recent changes to this site is that there are a couple of documents in the new Documentation section. One of these is an updated Frequently Asked Questions document which has some new questions that weren't asked frequently when the version of this on the old project site was written but are frequently asked now. Contrary to expectations, having a question in the FAQ document doesn't stop people from asking, but that's not a problem for one of the newer questions: "Is training available?"

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Top Posts for August, 2016

If there's one thing that I've learned from putting stuff on the Internet it's that I'm really not that great at predicting what people are going to find interesting to seek out and share. I hope that people reading things here do find what I'm writing about to be interesting or useful and that they'll hit the sharing buttons at the bottom of posts or otherwise share links with people who might be interested in this stuff. Now that it's been up a little over a month and the server logs have been rotated, I thought it might be interesting to look at what people have been looking at.

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Retreat Recap

I was recently at Roasters Guild Retreat hanging out with other coffee roasters and station instructing some classes (see What I'm Doing at Roasters Guild Retreat).

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What I'm Doing at Roasters Guild Retreat

From Wednesday, August 17, 2016 through Monday, August 22, 2016 I will be less responsive to attempts to communicate with me than usual as I will be at the 16th annual Roasters Guild Retreat. This year it is returning to Lake Lawn Resort in Delavan, Wisconsin. It's a short drive from my home in Racine to what is always one of my favorite events of the year. This year I will not be competing on a team (my name is already on the trophy), but I will be a station instructor for four classes and I've been asked to participate in a new kind of session that nobody is really sure how it will go but I'm excited to see how it turns out. More on that later.

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Development Time Ratio Considered Harmful

When I introduced range timers to Typica, one of the first requests that came in from several people was if it would be possible to have Typica report these time ranges as a percentage of total roasting time. Of course it would be trivial to modify a Typica configuration to do this, but I don't intend to do that myself as this is a terrible idea.

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Configuration Changes

Long time Typica users may have looked at recent posts about the modbusng branch pre-release build currently available for download and thought that since they already have hardware that worked with earlier releases there's nothing there of interest, but there are some configuration changes set for the next release that were also rolled in with that so you may want to try that build to get those changes.

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Extended Modbus Hardware Support

Previously I wrote about simulating a bus for extending Typica's support for devices that speak Modbus RTU. Now there's a pre-release build available that greatly expands Typica's support for that hardware. It's now possible to use devices that present their measurements as 32 bit floating point values such as some of the Watlow controllers that have become popular to use in coffee roasters. It's also possible to read from any number of function 3 or function 4 addresses on any number of devices on the bus rather than the low limits of the old Modbus code.

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The Pre-Roast

Today I received an email asking for advice on a couple points related to coffee roasting. One of these was a question about how best to start the roast for consistently matching a roasting plan if the readings of two probes at the end of roaster pre-heating are not consistent with earlier observations.

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Modbus Simulation on Linux

Modbus RTU support in Typica has always been relatively weak, but there's enough other hardware support that I haven't considered improving that to be a high priority. Recently someone contacted me about paying to raise the priority on a specific improvement that would allow them to use Typica with hardware they already had on their roaster and since this is a project that can always use financial support I decided to spend an evening making that change and using it as an opportunity to do some related work that I've wanted in Typica for a while. I'll have another post about those changes and how to use the new build later.

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Serial Scale Support in Typica

If you head over to the Downloads page you'll discover that there's a pre-release build available that extends Typica's support for scales connected to the computer through a serial port. This is intended to allow Typica to support a broader range of hardware than the current release build can.

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Learning to Roast Coffee at Home

I recently received an email from someone looking to get into home roasting. He saw my YouTube channel and thought I might be willing to teach him how to roast on a Hottop home coffee roaster.

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A New Home for Typica

When I started developing Typica I was just looking to create a tool that would make my work as a coffee roaster easier. It succeeded tremendously at that with immediate observable improvements and further measurable improvements to my work as I developed new features. By allowing myself to focus more on the coffee and less on the mechanics of record keeping I've become a better coffee roaster. But the decision to make the software freely available did so much more. It allowed other roasters all over the world to start using Typica and it started many conversations as roasters shared how they wanted to work and their ideas for ways that Typica could be improved. There are several features that have had a positive impact on my work that I may not have considered without those conversations. Now I'm taking the lessons learned from nearly a decade of work on Typica 1 and am trying to create Typica 2 as a foundation for work on new features that will make Typica more useful for the people and businesses already using it and hopefully create better tools for everybody.

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