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  • How to start a coffee roasting business

    Hi guys,

    I know nothing about the coffee roasting industry but would very much like to be apart of it. I have completed a Diploma of Hospitality and my ultimate goal is to make a living off selling roasted coffee but understand its a long road. My budget is around 4 to 5K to get things going.

    Currently work full-time and looking at practicing the art in my garage.

    Where would start?
    What equipment will I need - should I go for a hottop or get straight into it and buy a Has Garanti 2KG?
    Would I be fine in getting a French press and a Nuova Oscar to test the coffee?
    What about Grinders? is a nuova one fine?
    Where do I store my green beans? do I need a small silo of sorts?
    Do I need a destoner?
    Any great books you guys can recommend about the science of coffee beans or about how to roast?

    I would really appreciate any advice you guys are willing to give me.

  • #2
    Hey Sabsy. This could be starting a big thread...
    ::grabs popcorn::

    You've got a handle on some of the gear necessary for commercial setups. Much more to add to the list however, as well as many other things to consider. Unfortunately, your budget is way off for your lofty start.

    Do the home roasting thing for a bit. With that kind of money, buy an Aillio from Talk_Coffee, learn a bit about home roasting, then think about bigger in a few years.

    If you don't have a coffee making device (espresso machine, etc.) or suitable grinder- you'll either have to increase your budget, or move away from home roasters that have much similarity to a commercial machine.

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    • #3
      (Like the hottop you suggest. Or a Behmor)

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      • #4
        Originally posted by readeral View Post
        .... buy an Aillio from Talk_Coffee, learn a bit about home roasting, then think about bigger in a few years...
        Good idea. Also allocate $1k for some commercial training to get you started.

        Anne Cooper is doing brilliant work out of Melbourne for groups of up to 6 each month. It's 2 days and great value. Mark Beattie (site sponsor Coffee Roasters Aust) also offers 2 day courses on the Gold Coast.

        Facebook Anne or I think you book through Eventbrite. Mark's courses can be booked via the CRA website.

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        • #5
          Thanks Readeral for the advice.

          >Talk_Coffee, do you know of any great roasting courses in Adelaide?

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Sabsy View Post
            Thanks Readeral for the advice.

            >Talk_Coffee, do you know of any great roasting courses in Adelaide?
            Nope- but flights to Melbourne are cheap

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            • #7
              Big question. Here are a few of my personal thoughts.

              There is the technical side and the business side. Both need attention.

              Books. Scott Rao's book is a must read, and Rob Hoos book is also great. You can look up his recent talk at the Nordic Cup on youtube.

              A developed palate is super important. Do as much as you can to achieve this. The best roasters I know, are probably not the best technicians, (don't know everything about roasting) but can take a few lack lustre coffees and turn them into something great.

              Find a contract roaster, develop your blends, or singles. If you can sell these successfully, buy your own roaster and off you go. Also lots of roasters have excess capacity. You could probably find someone to share, rent or hire from.

              Good Luck. Exciting times ahead.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by swig View Post
                The best roasters I know, are probably not the best technicians, (don't know everything about roasting) but can take a few lack lustre coffees and turn them into something great.
                Never thought of myself as the best roaster. In my operation, the lack lustre coffees simply don't make the cut.

                I'd much prefer to start with a great coffee and give it a little love.

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                • #9
                  With an OP question like that you're gonna get a lot of conflicting information, some good some bad.

                  For my money the two books suggested aren't worth reading until you have some experience under your belt.

                  You just won't be able to put the information to any relevant use according to your own set up and modus operandi.

                  Read them when you know what you are doing and you will be able to sift anything worthwhile from the rest.

                  All the information in those two books is available on the web by entering search words like "roast development time" ;

                  "how to write a roasting profile" ; "how to develop a roasting profile" ; " coffee roasting faults and defects" ;

                  "how to write a roasting profile"; "acid development in coffee roasting" and just about any other question you have.

                  Matt ( Designingbycoffee) has an excellent thread on CS about corretto roasting that has a wealth of knowledge that can be

                  applied to all roasting scenarios

                  Have a look the info is all free. Get used to finding answers yourself.

                  I agree with Chris, get yourself over to Melbourne and do Anne Cooper's course. But before you do that you need to

                  develop some sort of business model, plan and mission statement. This will help you identify your potential market,

                  the sort of coffee that this market will buy and how much they are prepared to pay for it, amongst many other things.

                  Your budget is dismal. If you are serious about starting a full time roasting business you will need a 10kg roaster.

                  You will also need a bean float, any commercial clients will want continuity and consistency of supply and not lurch

                  from one coffee to another in short periods of time. Gradual changes of blends is what you need to aim for through the annual

                  offerings of green bean suppliers. Limit your inventory to 4-6 green coffees when you start.

                  Roasting is only part of the business activity and should only occupy 40% maximum of your time, if you are a sole operator.

                  I would also look at the Bullet or Behmor to start you off, not roasting commercially, but to get yourself

                  familiar with roasting, cupping, blending etc. These two roasters would carry over into a commercial setup for sample

                  roasting, decaf and/or small single origins or filter roasts.

                  A roasting start-up is not a decision to take lightly, it ain't easy, or cheap.

                  Now I've gone and written way more than I intended ...... and I only just got started. :-D

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                  • #10
                    Also, there's more wisdom to getting an Aillio than you'd think.

                    If you're truly serious about moving into commercial roasting, and
                    - hire a facility to get you going
                    - rent your own space with your own commercial roaster
                    - whatever else you might do

                    ...you're going to need to evaluate coffees for purchase, and for that you'll need a sample roaster. Going this way (rather than a KKTO or a Behmor, or a Hottop or...) will mean that you have a decent little roaster for sampling.
                    So an Aillio wouldn't be a sunk cost for learning purposes, but a true investment into your business - where you would eventually know the roaster well enough to evaluate coffees for larger purposes.

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                    • #11
                      Snap chokkidog!

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                      • #12
                        Thanks so much everyone for the great advice!

                        i've formulated a general basic plan at this stage:
                        - purchase a hottop roaster
                        - get familiar with roasting, cupping and blending. Research info online.
                        - increase knowledge with training/study
                        - formulate my own blend or blends
                        - Work with a local contract roaster and look at selling small quantities to individuals and small coffee shops.
                        - if business picks up and im able to raise capital - purchase a hans garanti or roastmax 5kg to 10kg.
                        - roast my own blend with no more need of contract roaster - look into a warehouse space.
                        - build rep and target larger coffee shops/stores.

                        Of course I will develop a business plan, model and target a specific market and go into a lot more detail about goals and objectives. The above is a very general guide at this stage.

                        What do you all think?

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                        • #13
                          Evaluate your competition.
                          How will you differentiate your offering from the multitude of others doing the same thing.
                          Evaluate your market. Australia is saturated with coffee roasting businesses. Is there room for you?

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Bosco_Lever View Post
                            Australia is saturated with coffee roasting businesses. Is there room for you?
                            Interesting statement, Bosco. Worthy of a thread of it's own! ;-D

                            Coffee in Australia

                            Instant gratification: Nescafé still number one - Roy Morgan Research

                            Quote from above link:
                            "In the 12 months to March 2013, 38% of Australians aged 14+ bought instant coffee (excluding decaf) in an average four-week period, down from 42% in the year to March 2009. More than half of them – 21% of the population – bought Nescafé (down from 25% in 2009)."

                            The changing landscape of Australian coffee consumption leaves the future of the fresh coffee roasting industry in a position of opportunity.

                            If 38% of Australians are still drinking instant then there is still room for growth..... 38% represents approx 9.6 million people!!

                            As the population demographic changes and those who grew up on instant (and still drink it) start to.... um..... step off the mortal coil

                            there will be a higher percentage of people looking for a quality coffee experience, at work, when out and at home.

                            Just a thought but I don't believe in the saturation propaganda put out by those with a vested interest in protecting their market share

                            and dissuading others from having a go. Certainly tougher if you're trying to get a foothold in the stronghold (so to speak) without

                            a café attached to the roastery but it's a big country and there are still lots of places without a local roastery. But! You've got to be good.

                            The market isn't saturated but it is educated!

                            Like I said .... just a few thoughts.

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                            • #15
                              I am not about dissuading others from having a go. I am about a reality check.

                              Too many people think it is easy peasy to set up a roasting business. The same train of thought applies to a multitude of other businesses, and I have seen some spectacular train wrecks.

                              Understanding your market, customers and competition is paramount. So is basic small business accounting.

                              By the way, data can be collected, manipulated and interpreted to prove any point, it does not mean it will apply to your individual situation.

                              Good luck with your venture Sabsy. Start small, and be frugal (because your budget dictates it). Start it as a hobby, so that you enjoy what you are doing, and then progress to making money out of it. Do not spend $4k on a roaster, buy something small or second hand, and learn, learn, learn....

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