The better way to taste coffee

Inbox in the user interface

What is Elian.coffee?

Elian.Coffee (ElianDotCoffee) is a project I originally created as a schoolproject with Raf Coffee.
It's a platform to organize and digitalize cuppings (coffee tastings) and provide analytics and feedback to the manufacterer.

Screenshot of the Elian.Coffee site

The origin of Elian.Coffee

Elian.Coffee was originally an idea that sparked from a school assignment. While I was studying at Odisee University of Applied Sciences, we got an assignment for the subject "Web & Mobile Development". The assignment was about creating a mobile app or PWA in which you had to use a variety of technologies.

Since my first year, I had already made a couple little projects about coffee, since it's one of the things I'm passionate about, and this time I was thinking in the same direction. The original idea was to build a social platform with a focus on sharing where you're drinking your coffee and give them a rating. Think of it as Untappd, but for coffee instead of beer.

When I pitched the idea to my proffessors, they liked the idea, but also told me that they knew someone from the coffee-scene. When they asked if I wanted them to approach him and pitch the idea, I was very enthusiastic and immediatly said yes! Some weeks lated we meeted and talked about what the project could be, Raf had another idea about a platform in which cuppers and coffee manufacterers could organize cuppings (tastings).

After I took some time to think about the project and how I could realize it, I decided that Raf's project idea actually was a lot better. Not only was it something new and exciting, it also was something usable. Believe me, after making a lot of school projects and deleting them afterwards, it gets frustrating.
So here we go, I started coding the project!

showing the login on the mobile app version

The technologies that made it possible

When I first started thinking about the project in it's final form, I started by using React Native as the framework that should make it possible. I did a lot of research about using React Native with TailwindCSS and deploying it on the web as well. Both of these things were possible and a cool thing to play with, but not that easy and maintainable, so I started looking for alternatives.

One of the blockers for me, was that I didn't want to build a native UI with basic components, taken from a library. So at first, Ionic, Xamarin and Flutter fell away. I quickly then realized that I wasn't actually looking to build an app, but I wanted to build a website, that was downloadable and runnable on smartphones. Somewhat later I discovered the Nuxt / Capacitor combo, it was love on first site!

Using Nuxt was ideal, since I could use VueJS and native web languages to build the main application and later package it into a mobile application. So I built the website using Nuxt, Capacitor, TailwindCSS and an API written in NodeJS and ExpressJS. Now that I knew how to build the front-end, I still had some issues in the back-end. Never before had I used NodeJS/Express with something else as a database then MongoDB. I was up for the challenge and searched around for a good OSRM usable with MySQL, since that was the database of my choice.

Sequelize instantly got my attention and I started playing around with it. I must say that it (almost) perfectly filled all my needs. Although I think that if I had to do the API over, I would build it in something like .NET or PHP/Laravel as API, but at the time I also took overall cost into consideration. Since I wanted to have a full working MVP by the date of the deadline I wanted to deploy using the cloud (Google Cloud by choice), which isn't always cheap.

Deploying the application

Google Cloud Platform logo

As I said, I wanted to deploy the application using the cloud, since that really was something I hadn't do before and it sparked my interest. I did research, wrote Dockerfiles and buildscripts and really liked the full process. I learned a lot about building applications front-to-back and deployments. Now (some months later), I work at a cloud-native company called vBridge and I'm really into cloud-native development and the cloud as a whole (still as a developer, not as devOps or something).