For the past few months, Belco has been distributing the “Cropster Roast” tool to the French market.  Renowned in the specialty coffee world for 10 years, the tool is not always well understood by the profession at large. Many people actually reduce Cropster to a roast monitoring software which can be used on any type of roaster. Even if this may be true, it is only a small part of just what Cropster can do!

Cropster fits very well on several roasters, with the Loring for example.

 

Using Cropster only for profiling means people are missing out on many of its most powerful features.  To be totally honest, it is exactly the opposite of what we and it creators  advocated as well as its most fervent users.

If we had to provide the perfect definition of Cropster, we should rather say that it’s a complete management tool for a modern day roasting workshop.

Thanks to this tool, roasters can organise their production, better understand the quality of their coffees and more importantly access a much better consistency in their taste profiles.

The main advantage of this product resides in the interaction of all the data in your production process: the combination of your roasting profiles with your green coffee stock management, your production scheduling and management, quality control, traceability of your lots and much much more…

Everything that a roaster has to manage every day, Cropster centralizes in just one product! Saving time and money. You enter information one time in one pace and Cropster takes care of many time consuming tasks for you.


Just one product which is split into three parts:

 

  • Online platform (C-Sar):

Figure 1 Home screen of the C-Sar platform.

This platform is the biggest part as it centralizes all your data. Your inventory of green coffees, your various profiles and recipes, your roasts, your blend recipes, your quality control data, your cupping scores, etc. and it is also the place where in just a few clicks, at any time, you can find out your green coffee consumption, know which coffee you roast the most, check the consistency of your production, calculate easily your sales between private and professional customers for example…. In short, it’s your office suite, with all traceability linked to your production.

Figure 2 Follow the evolution of your coffee stocks.


  •  Roasting software (Roasting intelligence):

Figure 3 Cropster Roasting Intelligence

The Cropster “Roasting Intelligence” software, is permanently synced to your online platform and is the tool which enables you to watch what’s happening in your roaster. It shows the bean temperature in your roaster live (through a probe in your drum of your equipment). But is doesn’t stop there…. You also have an air temperature probe (exhaust air), and Cropster can also show this data on your screen.

Actually, depending on the different make of roaster, all the tools/setting present on your equipment and which you use when you roast (bean probe, exhaust, burner, fan, RPM…) can be read by the software (Figure 3, with a Loring) and translated onto your computer screen. Cropster will also work on your roast machine, their type and make and cooperation level with Cropster will determine how much and which information you can record.

Figure 4 Roasting curve with cropster.

When you roast, the software will also display the RoR (Rate of Rise) which is a calculation of temperature/time to see what speed the heat is increasing within your bean. This data is key as it allows roasters to control, react and anticipate each batch.

Once you have determined the right profile for one of your coffees, it will be possible for you to add this curve as a reference to any new roast you make. This means, you can use  the roasting curve that you have successfully made previously (reference curve) to be able to reproduce and even improve your roast!


 

  • Cropster Cup cupping app:

Figure 5 Cropster Cup platform to rate your coffees as a team.

Quality control in coffee is a question that often comes up amongst roasters. How to ensure consistent production? How to avoid potential negative feedback from our customers (professional and private)? Why does this coffee react in this way when the last time was different? In our role as roasters, these questions come up frequently and I believe that the fact of choosing an artisanal trade where ‘100% perfect’ does not exist is a good thing; the only way to achieve consistency and a better understanding of your roaster over the course of the year (temperature, air humidity..) is to oblige yourself to regularly cup your coffees. It’s the only way to control the quality of your coffees at a modest price.

How does my coffee change over time? Which aromatic profiles do I want to showcase in this coffee? Can I improve the quality of this coffee with a new roast? What do I do to find the aromatic profile of my favorite importer? Do I need a specific roast for an extraction using a machine which uses beans?

Those are just some of the questions which can only be answered using professional cupping, to better understand how to use your roaster to correct or improve your roasts.

To do so, Cropster has developed a directly integrated mobile application which allows you to cup and control your production at each step of the production process. You may use several types of cupping protocol (SCA, Cup of Excellence…) or create with the Cropster team your own cupping protocol. And of course, you don’t need any paper, each cupper can use a smartphone or tablet.

Use of Cropster app with the tablet during a cupping session.

The result is extraordinary. All the criteria scored by the cuppers is visible; allowing you to simply create cupping data per team. Statistical reports per session or per cupper can also be created in just a few clicks. Finally, you no longer need to go looking for your cupping sheets, everything is centralized on your platform and linked to your roasts.

In another article, I will provide a concrete example of the interaction of the different Cropster tools so you can see the importance of having traceability across your entire production process.

As we begin to learn about Cropster our goal is to share the many advantages it can bring first to your roasting, but also importantly to your quality control, production and inventory management. As a signle tool to manage your roastery Cropster brings simplicity to all these tasks. As a single tool it also delivers amazing reporting and analysis. In another article, I will provide a concrete example of the interaction of the different Cropster tools so you can see the importance of having traceability across your entire production process and how Cropster can help you easily achieve that.

Jérémie for the Belco team.

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