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Thread: home roasting into commercial roasting

  1. #1
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    home roasting into commercial roasting

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    I am considering starting a coffee roasting business. I need to start roasting at home though however in order to nail the process down while I make a business plan, etc. What home roasters are most similar to commercial roasters? Thanks!

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    Senior Member greenman's Avatar
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    The dynamics of a home roaster compared to a commercial roaster bear no comparison. You could learn the basics of coffee roasting on a home roaster and then when ready to take the leap into commercial roasting do a proper commercial roasting course with one of the CS sponsors.
    It is a very competitive business so do your home work beforehand.................
    cheers gm

  3. #3
    TC
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    I agree with greenman,

    To replicate a commercial roaster, you will need to get a small, gas fired commercial (shop) roaster of 1-5kg capacity.

    Might be worth having a chat with site sponsor Coffee Roasters Australia.

    Cheers

    Chris

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    Quote Originally Posted by Talk_Coffee View Post
    I agree with greenman,

    To replicate a commercial roaster, you will need to get a small, gas fired commercial (shop) roaster of 1-5kg capacity.

    Might be worth having a chat with site sponsor Coffee Roasters Australia.

    Cheers

    Chris
    You wouldn't recommend something electric in a 1kg?
    For learning/light commercial viability it might be a lot cheaper than a gas setup?
    Just curious.

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    Still interested in your opinion on gas vs electric in small roasters (1-2kg). (as written post above).
    Cheers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by B00sting View Post
    You wouldn't recommend something electric in a 1kg?
    For learning/light commercial viability it might be a lot cheaper than a gas setup?
    Just curious.
    Not really as it's not commercially viable unless you're prepared to work for nothing. As a learning exercise, sure thing- but not for commercial return.

    Quote Originally Posted by B00sting View Post
    Still interested in your opinion on gas vs electric in small roasters (1-2kg). (as written post above).
    Cheers.
    I prefer gas for my steak and I choose it for my own roaster as well. The reasons are similar. Must say I have considered a Torrefattore as a sample roaster though.

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    Fair enough. The problem with gas is it costs a heap more than electric for a home roaster, initial setup, compliance etc. At least from what I have read.

    Also, there is a 1kg electric option that is tempting at around $4000.

    Sure you'll struggle to make money but as an affordable learning tool that is virtually plug and play (experiment).

    Not many home roasters could afford even 4k let alone the 12-20k plus for gas 2-5kg+..

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    Yes- however your original question related to light commercial viability and my opinion is as stated. A 1kg is not viable.

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    Senior Member speleomike's Avatar
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    Hi drink

    Rather than outlaying many thousands of dollars (>10k new) on something similar to a commercial roaster just get a Hottop or a Gene Cafe or make a KK roaster. (Note even the Coffee-Tech 2 kg TORREFATTORE in the sale section at $9k is unlike a commercial roaster, but it would be good to roast with.)

    Then regularly buy different sorts of beans from bean bay and develop your roasting and cupping skills. Don't worry yet that the roasts will be different on a home roaster to a commercial one. What you should build up is being able to roast a bean, cup it, and pick out its characteristics. Roast it again with a different profile, cup it again, develop the ability to pick from the cupping how your roast profile variation changed its cupping. How did it change an espresso, how did it change a milk based drink? Those skills in taste and systematic "roast profile exploring" will be skills that you will need as a commercial roaster. Try your roasts with friends and neighbours and see what they like and don't like.

    This will take a few years and meanwhile do your business plan. Like how many kg do you need to produce per week? Who will supply your green beans and at what price? What rent is an industrial unit for roasting in? etc. If I was going into it I'd want to try and get some experience in a roasting place, even if its sweeping the floors.

    Mike

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    There are atleast 5 SEPARATE things to consider here, and then some.

    Commercial coffee roasting requires a lengthy apprenticeship, on commercial roasting equipment;

    Commercial coffee roasting has nothing per se, to do with knowing how to successfully operate a business ("coincidentally" based around the roasting operation);

    Capital is required to start up, and then

    The Viability of the operation requires the business have enough capital to sustain it through the period where there will not be enough income from the business, to cover its costs, and for it to still continue to exist through that period to some semblence of profitability.

    Some kind of "sales force" is required to bring the income (income doesnt just materialise as if by magic !)

    **********************

    Coincidentally we are currently looking for someone to learn the ropes in the production & roasting side of our successful and growing coffee roasting business and placed a "wanted" ad under CosmoreX Coffee in the Sponsor Section of this site in order to give someone who is truly interested in coffee, the first bite of the cherry. Sadly, no one from these parts has applied and we have been forced to advertise through the regular media. If you live in or around our area, we will be happy to talk, and there will be an immediate start for the right person.
    Last edited by Fresh_Coffee; 18th September 2012 at 11:45 AM.

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    Some great advice above.

    Roasting per say I find not the most difficult part. I would say palate development is the key, on the roasting/coffee side. The business side of things is another story, the fun starts once the coffee is in the bag.

    My advise, for what its worth, find a friendly roaster who will roast you small batches. Learn to blend and understand the coffees. Start selling these. Build up a clientele, build up a demand for your product.

    You can then invest in a roaster of your own, with lesser risk.

    You will save alot of money starting your business this way.

    Martin.

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    Angry

    "Commercial coffee roasting requires a lengthy apprenticeship, on commercial roasting equipment;"

    This is the hardest part to conquer IMO. I've worked in hospitality for 7 years +, roast my own coffee on a behmor for 2 years, commercial setup at home, restoring a 1950s lever machine, extensive knowledge thanks to this forum and others.
    So about a year and a half ago I emailed all the roasters I could find in melbourne, and even sydney. I even hand-dropped at some.
    I was Expressing interest in a job in the industry, and I attached a resume and a good cover letter with my queries.
    Nearly all replied, but none had any job opportunities, even though I (at the time) was willing to do any other duties possible (sweep the floor, deliveries etc), all I wanted was an opportunity to learn how to roast commercially.
    Actually, from memory there was one company in Sydney who was willing to give me an interview/trial, but I am based in melbourne and it would have being difficult to relocate.

    Then this year I saw an 'entry level' job at a roastery in melbourne, applied for that, had an interview, even had a job trial. Finally i thought I was going to break into the industry... weeks went past, got an email saying sure your still in the running for the job, good trial etc. I gave them another week or two, waiting patiently, then rang up the contact only to remind him that 'oh we gave this job to someone already'. sorry about that, good job, but you didn't get it.

    This was when I realised they just hadn't bothered to call me. even after a trial where I worked for free. This was also when i realised, do I really want to work for a company that can't even bother calling up people?
    This is the only entry level roasting job I've seen in 2 years, I have applied for others where some experience was required with no luck.

    Honestly I don't know how anyone gets into the industry unless they are born into it. I think it's sad that no one is willing to give myself and people like me an opportunity to learn, but I guess that's just the way it is. I suppose it's also difficult to convey this level of passion in an interview.

    Regardless, i've given up, and am in a completely different career now.

    /end rant

  13. #13
    Senior Member Dennis's Avatar
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    Hello B00sting. Although you're entitled to your rant, I'm going to take a hard line here and say you either:

    a) Had a higher level of confidence in the quality of your cover letter than it deserved. You mention your cover letter contained your queries when really, it should list your qualities and how you could add value to a business;
    b) You used a 'shotgun approach'. In other words, you fired off applications to any potential employer, without evaluating whether you would really like to work for them, as evidenced with the employer in Sydney who took the time to respond and was prepared to offer you an interview.

    I'm sorry that there are a lot of employers out there that are willing to take advantage of potential employees and who don't communicate properly. I think you're right not to want to work for people like that.

    I also understand how this can be very demoralising but hope what I've said might help you see that you may have had some influence in the outcome. I hope you are enjoying your new career, and if you're ever in Sydney and have the time or inclination, give me a yell and I'll show you around our setup.

    Cheers

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dennis View Post
    Hello B00sting. Although you're entitled to your rant, I'm going to take a hard line here and say you either:

    a) Had a higher level of confidence in the quality of your cover letter than it deserved. You mention your cover letter contained your queries when really, it should list your qualities and how you could add value to a business;
    b) You used a 'shotgun approach'. In other words, you fired off applications to any potential employer, without evaluating whether you would really like to work for them, as evidenced with the employer in Sydney who took the time to respond and was prepared to offer you an interview.

    I'm sorry that there are a lot of employers out there that are willing to take advantage of potential employees and who don't communicate properly. I think you're right not to want to work for people like that.

    I also understand how this can be very demoralising but hope what I've said might help you see that you may have had some influence in the outcome. I hope you are enjoying your new career, and if you're ever in Sydney and have the time or inclination, give me a yell and I'll show you around our setup.

    Cheers
    Hi Dennis,

    Sorry, I was a bit misleading in my post. I didn't actually pose the general queries in my cover letter. The cover letter and CV were separate, but as I wasn't actually applying for any job that existed I thought it fair to ask some general questions in the actual email itself.

    Fair enough on the Sydney job, and your right, perhaps I should have contacted only those roasters whom I was willing to work for. But at that point, I would have worked for any commercial roaster. In fact I still would have until recently, just to get my foot in the door. I believe the shotgun approach is fair in this industry, and in the case of the place in Sydney that offered me an interview, they still gave me good advice as well as that offer. Believe me I was tempted, a shame that was my only lead.

    As off topic as this thread now is (because of me), it's probably still useful for some to read of my experiences, and as it's relevant to transitioning between home roasting, and commercial roasting.

    Thank you for the offer of a tour around your place, I may take you up on that someday. (And yes the new career is great it's always being my other passion second only to roasting).

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    I admire someone that cold calls for a job that doesnt exist. We've had some good ones, and we've also had to turn people away when there just wasnt a vacancy available.....that's no ones fault just a factor of circumstance.

    Most people we have in "higher" duties here, came in at the base level and showed capability and passion for certain areas of the business and were given a go.

    So we mostly hire delivery drivers and storepeople. They get promoted, and we have to look for another! Place an add for a delivery driver or storeperson and 50 people apply. Place an add for an apprentice coffee roaster or something and no one applies. That's life.

    People that want to bust into actual coffee industry should note that its not all "wine and roses". Its a job and its business, there are many facets to it, & we dont stand around all day designing new mixes or cupping COE's or just....using the roasting equipment....as you can when you roast coffee for a hobby and it is your special interest. I know a few people that were mad keen motorcyclists so they went into motorcycle shops, and their passion for their hobby waned over time. Many people just seem to see the romantic side of it all....because they are on the outside looking in.

    Be realistic, and something good will come of it. If you want to experience a job in the coffee industry, it is superfuous to indicate that there are certain roaster businesses that you would not work for. When you are on the outside looking in, you are being influenced by images, marketing hype and internet influence on what's currently chic or not chic, and not looking at the reality. You need to be on the inside to see the reality and again, coffee is a job and it is business. It is not the domain of "starving artist roast masters". (no one with any real expertise in a real coffee roasting business calles themselves a roast master or a master roaster) Be fair. If you can manage to get yourself a go, show initiative and capability and enjoy what you do, thats the start.

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    As the happy owner of a circa $4k roaster

    No it won't roast for a commercial return. Minimum roast size that starts to work is 3kg and 5kg is where the return start to make sense. If you want to learn how to roast then yes 1-2kg can work but some of the '2kg' electric roasters will struggle to have sufficient control and reserve power over the roast at full charge to make them a useful learning tool or to get the best results possible.

    I have done some fairly comprehensive spreadsheet work prior to the 1kg purchase which was a calculated punt/$$ as a play/learning thing and am more than happy with it so far.

    If you were Running your own Cafe and Roasting your own to use then possibly it would be ok for looks shop feature etc but when you hit much more than 15-20kg of Brown a week it would be a huge PITA to keep up.

    Should also add are you going to be able to roast BETTER and more CONSISTENTLY and for less $$ than what you may be able to buy contract roasted and then rebag and resell ??

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    Senior Member Koffee_Kosmo's Avatar
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    Hi BOOsting
    If Canberra is not to far ? you should contact Sponsor Cosmorex Coffee
    they advertised a Possition on this thread - http://coffeesnobs.com.au/sponsors/2...tml#post480507

    I should also note that if you purchase a roaster the supplier may have a training program with purchase or as an extra

    KK

  18. #18
    Senior Member Vinitasse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by beanflying View Post
    As the happy owner of a circa $4k roaster

    No it won't roast for a commercial return. Minimum roast size that starts to work is 3kg and 5kg is where the return start to make sense. If you want to learn how to roast then yes 1-2kg can work but some of the '2kg' electric roasters will struggle to have sufficient control and reserve power over the roast at full charge to make them a useful learning tool or to get the best results possible.

    I have done some fairly comprehensive spreadsheet work prior to the 1kg purchase which was a calculated punt/$$ as a play/learning thing and am more than happy with it so far.

    If you were Running your own Cafe and Roasting your own to use then possibly it would be ok for looks shop feature etc but when you hit much more than 15-20kg of Brown a week it would be a huge PITA to keep up.

    Should also add are you going to be able to roast BETTER and more CONSISTENTLY and for less $$ than what you may be able to buy contract roasted and then rebag and resell ??
    Can't say that I agree with much of the above. I have been roasting commercially for the past 2 years on an electric 1kg roaster that I modified to roast 2kg batches on. The roaster has no problems at all in keeping up with a full charge and responds brilliantly to airflow and power adjustmets with most roasts hitting 2nd crack consistently in the 16 to 17 min range. I roast 60~100kgs per week and seeing as how I still manage to work far fewer hours than I did in previous employment I am happy to say that the PITA factor has been pretty much non-existent. Oh... and seeing as how my overhead is low, roasting on my own property, I can report that it is possible to earn a decent full-time income in a sub 40 hour week. Having said all that, if I had to do it again I would have started with a gas powered 5kg machine and now dream about that 15kg roaster that will be Phase 2 of my business plan. But... can it be done? Sure... just do your homework and make sure you have an understanding wife/partner
    inouchi3 likes this.

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    Out of interest what was the final cost of the converted 1kg roaster? Are you still in front of or behind $10k?

    The 'some' 2kg roasters bit is important too as some are over 20 minutes to SC. Also how hard do 'some' of them need to be pushed to FC to try and keep the times sensible. IE. Level of control and can the ramp be varied or raised if needed at full charge.

    Depends on how and what you value your time at and if you are being serious about the commercial realities of the situation. So often this sort of thread pps up with what about if I used 2 XYZ home roasters to roast for a local ABC and so often the same answers come up.

    The overall business plan has to includes sales and marketing time and or selling time in most cases. At that point small roasters start to fall over unless you are maximising the time/$ in by using the results yourself.

    To not do this is not a business plan but a lifestyle choice which I have been doing for the last 12 years in a different field

  20. #20
    Senior Member Vinitasse's Avatar
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    Behmor Coffee Roaster
    To answer your question Tim, I was lucky enough to have been the very first Australian importer of the roaster I am using and was cut a really good break on the price. All up, with all importation fees, installation, certification and mods included the price still came in far below $10K. As regards to business plans and taking into consideration time for sales and marketing etc... I can say that a typical day for me could be broken down as follows:

    Preparing and printing labels (personalized for each customer): 15~30 mins

    Roaster pre-heat and prepping roast batches: 30 mins

    Roasting of 12~20kg of coffee @ 3 batches per hour: 4~6.5 hrs (includes labelling, bagging and sealing tc..)

    Roaster cool-down, cleaning and maintenance: 45 mins

    Paperwork, communications and marketing: 1 hr

    TYPICAL DAY: 7.0~9.25hrs with the average being closer to 7.5hrs/day, 5 days per week.

    Deliveries and mail runs happen a couple of time per week and add another hour or two to the total. All up: 38.5~39.5hrs per week on avg

    And, net income at the end of the day yields more than my previous position at $80K + benefits ever did... and... I work for myself and my commute is measured in steps, not kms.
    Last edited by Vinitasse; 29th September 2012 at 01:10 PM.



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