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  1. #1
    Member
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    Mar 2018
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    CT
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    70

    Health Regulations for Roasting

    Hi,

    My local health department is not overly experienced in coffee roasting wholesale, so my efforts in being proactive in checklists is pretty fruitless.

    Nonetheless, I need help from all of you. I am shopping locations that are inexpensive for a startup. So space is tight, and the buildings do not always have plumbing within some of the individual units.

    What are the essentials I need to need in this work space that will make health officials happy. Please note: I am not in a city where EPA will get involved. If an area is sectioned off for industrial purposes, it is not an issue.

    Thanks,
    Matt

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Kansas City
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    753
    I found the same thing... start with the FDA office. You will typically be categorized as a food producer.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator
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    Aug 2003
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    Boca Raton
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    3,291
    you will at a minimum need a 3 compartment sink and separate hand washing sink.
    "Wine is for aging, not coffee."
    Ken Hutchinson, Starsky and Hutch

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Location
    NYC
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    178
    Hey Matt, I'm guessing none of those initial locations worked out?
    Good luck finding a space.

  5. #5
    Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    CT
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    70
    Topher nailed it. 3 compartment sink. Check.

    I have a spot. Property management is unsure of the septic, so once they clear that up with the town I am good to go. For that part...

  6. #6
    Senior Member
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    May 2014
    Location
    Kansas City
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    753
    Matt -

    Here is a bit more feedback but it varies so much by region it's hard to give you specifics.

    What I've found as far as sinks etc., some states like mine only require a hand sink, most a hand sink and 3 compartment and sometimes even a separate mop sink. All three are nice to have if your infrastructure will support it. I never had any involvement in septic or wastewater. I also have a bathroom which has to be enclosed and have auto door closers (cheap and easy). Check to see what kind of hot water heater is provided. My little industrial spot only has a electric 3 gallon hot water heater and it sucks. Look for one that has a traditional household or similar tank size. Lights need to be enclosed or shatterproof in your food producing areas (your costs of course). Make sure the facility has gas service - I know that sounds weird but I found a lot in my area were electric only. It may not be necessary for your operation but look for the amperage of panel... I'm was running enough equipment (espresso machine / hot water towers / general stuff) I had to upgrade my panel. Floors need to be cleanable and sealed... I ended up using a commercial polish sealant. Something easy to sweep up because the damn beans go everywhere... I literally think the beans multiply on their own sometimes. You will typically have to have fire extinguisher and exits and I have an extra 'water only' extinguisher near my roaster. You will have to get fire inspected but that's not a big deal in my opinion... you don't want to operate in a unsafe environment.

    Think through the logistics of your product flow. Green stock > weigh measure > Into roaster > out of roaster > into packaging > sell/ship?. You will need room for all of that stuff... I have a couple of stainless tables for filling / packaging / wire racks to hold crap (boxes / tape / inserts). I also have my 'lab' area which is basically about a 12' run of cabinets. There I have my espresso machine / brewers / all my QC equipment to evaluate roasts. I converted a reg stainless table into my 'cupping table'... basically swapped out the legs so its close to chest high.. works perfect. And then a little area for my desk/chair/printer for all the paperwork / taxes / book keeping you gotta do.

    My shop is basically in the suburbs in a small industrial park, 1100 sq feetish. I found when looking for a spot I really couldn't find much under 1000-1200 sq feet. At a minimum I was finding the small sub 1000 sq foot places cost as much as the slightly larger spaces. Talk to your landlord and try and find one that's cool and a bonus is a coffee lover and or supported. Mine also owns a small brew pub and really helps support me by buying my product for personal consumption as well as doing collaborations (I know that's rare). The reality is your going to stink up the place a bit if you have neighbors... hopefully its not a issue.. I hook my business neighbors up with coffee every once and a while and it seems to make them happy.

    Good luck - Mike

  7. #7
    Junior Member
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    Jun 2018
    Posts
    7
    Where are you currently located?

  8. #8
    Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    CT
    Posts
    70
    Thanks Mike! I am in CT. So each small town has rules based on how much of a stickler the health official in each particular town hall happens to be. I am selling wholesale, online, and at farmer's markets. So the space does not have to be zoned for retail.

    It just so happens that my barber is in another small building on the main street just in front of this location, and have already told him I will set him up with an airpot of coffee for his waiting area on the days I am roasting. It is also right near the Essex Train Station which is a tourist destination here, and the place where I created the Steam Train Half Marathon & Relay race last year. Which only sold out at 400 runners and filled 375 seats on the train because we only ordered 425 race medals and t-shirts in anticipation of MAYBE getting 200 runners in our first year. This year, there will be free coffee at the start/finish.

    I found a small "tiny house" sort of single building that has laminate floors, is clean, and is spaced out perfectly for my setup. Oh, and it is only $300 a month for rent because it is out of plain sight and zoned for industrial. Perfect for me. The property owners are nice people as well and will install propane and do the exhaust port for the roaster FOC. That is, if it is approved for my 3 basin sink. Fingers crossed.

    I am coming out of 12 years of corporate sales. In my last sales gig I carried a quota of $2.1M covering the east coast. After organizing that half marathon last year, I realized that the only way to deal with permits and people at town halls is to attack them first with transparency and respect for what they deal with on a day to day basis. If you try the route of "asking for forgiveness instead of permission" these folks will become your enemy. I don't have time for enemies. Only progress.

    I just can't wait to get frigging roasting baby!!!!

  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    MA
    Posts
    656
    Hi Matt
    I fought the 3 compartment sink issue because I was not baking food of any sorts. In MA if you have a 3 bay sink you are required to have a grease trap. I installed a commercial sink with one compartment and we went back and forth for a while and I ended up getting my way. Even when I opened up the cafe along side the roastery I was still able to keep the single sink. Class A double wall pipe was required and that was it. But as others have mentioned every state and town has different opinions and rules. If your roaster is not on the MA gas approved list you need to get a variance which can be a real PITA! But easy enough to get around.
    Good Luck in your new venture
    Charlie
    Charlie
    If you are afraid of failure or losing money, quit while you are ahead

  10. #10
    Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    CT
    Posts
    70
    Hey Charlie! Appreciate the input. I am leaving it in the hands of the property managers so that I do not muddy up the waters of their conversations with town hall. Nonetheless, I did email your argument for a 1 basin sink to the property managers since I will not be a retail/food service establishment in any capacity.

    I have 2 backup locations at the moment, but one is under construction and won't be ready for months, and the other is in a shared kitchen sort of facility and I do not want people/smells/etc messing with my system. I am scheduled to get my roaster next Tuesday and just want to move it once into the space I will call home for the next several years.

 

 
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