Typica: Software for Coffee Roasting Operations

Setting Up Your Database

Most of the features in Typica require a PostgreSQL database. While some people look at this requirement, realize that PostgreSQL is powerful software used by giant companies, and decide on that basis that it must be difficult to use, the truth is that it's free and easy to set this up in a way that's appropriate for use with Typica. There are, however, some decisions to make depending on how you intend to use Typica. While it's easiest to choose the right way to set things up from the start, you can always change your mind later and move to a different configuration with no loss of data.

Running Typica Without a Database

While most of the features in Typica are unavailable without a database, some core features work just fine without a database. You can configure a roaster for the hardware you have and make use of all of the basic data logging features and some of the more advanced ones such as roast profile translation, choosing to save roasting data to files and loading those as target roast profiles for future batches. These basic features do not require a database. Certain features such as range timers are still available, but are more useful if batch data is being saved to a database.

If you just want to get the hang of roasting with Typica without doing the initial data entry around green coffee inventory or defining your roasted coffee items, this is a fine place to start, especially if you're using hardware such as the Phidgets 1048 which is also supported by a number of competing data logging programs. You can try a few different options and see what you like best before investing more time in setting up Typica.

This option might also be appropriate for home roasters who don't need the reporting features available in Typica, aren't maintaining large green coffee inventories, and can manage a set of files with roasting data reasonably.

Installing PostgreSQL on the Same Computer as Typica

A video walkthrough of installing PostgreSQL.

If you're only roasting coffee on a single machine and are fine with only accessing data stored by Typica on a single computer but still want the full range of features, installing PostgreSQL on the same computer as Typica is a reasonable choice. Indeed, I suspect that this is the most common way that people set up Typica and it's the easiest choice that still allows use of all of the features.

This video shows a step by step walk through of downloading a PostgreSQL installer and running that, but the key take away for this section is that the default options presented by the installer are just fine for an installation intended for use with Typica so if you really want to keep things simple and just get this done you can just click next until you're asked to choose a password. Remember that password because Typica will need that to connect to the database.

Settings for a minimal effort PostgreSQL installation

You can choose to do some additional setup such as creating additional database users or creating a database other than the default one (covered in the video), but if you don't do any extra setup, you can still use the database and user created by default with the password that you chose during installation.

These instructions work if you're installing PostgreSQL on a Mac or Windows machine. If you're using Linux, PostgreSQL is almost certainly in your usual software repository and can be installed from there. You'll need to look up distro-specific instructions for finishing up some initial setup, but there's almost certainly a good set of instructions available for this that makes this very easy.

Installing PostgreSQL on the Local Network

Multiple computers running Typica can connect to the same PostgreSQL database. This is useful when you have multiple roasting machines that you'd like to operate simultaneously or if you'd like to be able to run reports or do non-roasting data entry on a computer away from the roaster. By default, PostgreSQL does not allow other machines on the network to connect to the database, but this configuration can be changed. The video in the previous section covers this and the PostgreSQL documentation covers it in more depth if you need that.

It's important to note that if you're running any kind of software based firewall on the computer running PostgreSQL you'll need to make sure that the firewall is allowing network connections from the computers running Typica to the computer running PostgreSQL. This also applies if there are hardware firewalls in between those computers.

This is how the author of Typica has PostgreSQL installed.

Installing PostgreSQL on the Internet

While running critical infrastructure on some other company's computers seems to be a popular choice, this really isn't a great idea. Chances are good that your local network is going to be both more secure and more reliable than your connection to the Internet. There are features planned for Typica 2.0 that make this a more sensible option for companies roasting in multiple facilities, but until those features exist I don't think this is a compelling option.

If that warning hasn't scared you off, there's no reason that you can't install PostgreSQL on a hosting provider such as Linode (note, this is a referral link, signing up and being a customer for 90 days results in lower hosting costs for this site) and point Typica at that server from anywhere in the world. You'll need to pay a small monthly hosting fee to keep that working, but you'll be able to get at your data anywhere that you have a connection to the Internet. Configuration is similar to installing PostgreSQL on your local network.

Changing Your Mind

As your business grows, you might find that an installation decision that made sense at the time is no longer the best option for your business. Since you're in full control of your PostgreSQL installation, you can always create a backup of your data, install PostgreSQL elsewhere and configure that appropriately, then restore your backup onto the new database.