Answering Your Top 5 Questions About Starting a Coffee Roasting Business

Artisan coffee roaster

It seems that everywhere you turn, small roasters are offering gourmet coffee blends. There’s good reason for this, with high-quality coffee enjoying a status similar to that of beer or wine. You might even want to consider joining the trend yourself by opening a coffee roasting business. Here are the answers to five common questions people ask about this venture:

  1. Should I Open a Roasting Shop, or a Coffee Shop?

    Often, people looking to get a piece of the coffee industry struggle with whether they should open a coffee house or a roasting business. In general, opening a coffee shop has higher operating costs. In addition to leasing a space, you’ll need to consider how to pay for equipment, products, baristas and/or servers, and additional selling items such as pastries. If you’re looking to start small and minimize your risk, then coffee roasting is the better route.

  2. What’s the Best Business Model for a Coffee Roasting Business?

    Another thing to keep in mind about coffee roasting businesses is that a traditional storefront isn’t your only option. Many people start small with their businesses, selling first to family and friends, making the rounds at local farmers’ markets or trying online sales. If you really want to grow, the best things you can do are to partner up with a local coffee shop and insert yourself into the artisanal community in your area. This will build up a loyal customer base.

  3. What’s the Best Commercial Coffee Roaster Machine?

    When you’re looking at roasting machines, you’ll probably see two main types: a fluid bed coffee roaster and a drum coffee roaster. Fluid bed coffee roasters are generally acknowledged as providing a slightly better roast, since they keep the beans in constant motion and away from the heat source so that they don’t burn. But drum roasters can also be effective, so you shouldn’t get too caught up in the difference. Pay more attention to getting an overall high-quality machine that doesn’t kill your budget more than you worry about drum vs. fluid bed coffee roasters.

  4. What Should I Focus on When I Buy Beans?

    The most basic distinction between green coffee beans is whether they’re Arabica or Robusta varieties (Arabica generally being thought of as the better option). But in order to make truly outstanding coffee roasts, you’ll need to taste as many different coffees as possible. And once you do start experimenting with your own roasts, you’ll find that pairing the right beans with the right roasting profile does far more for flavor than anything else.

  5. How Can I Convince People That Gourmet Coffee is Worth It?

    Often, convincing people to pay a bit more for artisanal coffee is as simple as educating them. You can do this in more formal ways — by hosting tastings, teaching information sessions or distributing material online — or you can just strike up a conversation whenever you get the opportunity. Once people understand the difference between carefully roasted, fresh gourmet coffee and those big red or green canisters on the store shelves, they’re far less likely to mind shelling out a few extra bucks to keep you in business.

What other questions do you have about getting started as an artisanal coffee roaster? Join the discussion in the comments.

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