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  1. #1
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    Question Starting a coffee roasting business

    Hello,
    I am starting a coffee roasting business in the near future and I am in the market for a roaster, possibly two. The reason I say two is because I think it would be a good idea to have a sample size roaster that is similar to the larger capacity roaster I will be using to roast the bulk of my coffee. My thought process in this is that I will want to roast small batches to determine the roast profile for the particular beans before I roast in larger quantities. I would like to start out with at least a 6lb roaster for my large capacity roaster. I would prefer it to be a gas heated drum style roaster. Any thoughts on this matter would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  2. #2
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    You can roast pretty small batches of beans in a 6lb machine. We have a 25 lb roaster that can put out a pound or two of coffee at a time, with no problem.

    Imo, the main issue arises when trying to roast a large number of sample batches in a row. A large roaster simply gets too hot to handle many tiny batches consecutively.

    That is my experience with a 25 lb roaster. I don't think I need a sample roaster and really doubt I'd feel the need for one if working with a 6 lb unit.

  3. #3
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    6 pound units might be too small for your future growth. I would purchase 3 Kilo machine to start out and maybe move into bigger like 15k or bigger machine later when you do need much bigger unit.

  4. #4
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    I meant 6 pound roaster as your main roaster.... 3kg will serve as a main roaster until you grow into bigger roaster. But if you know for sure you will need much bigger roaster later, like Eldub said why not just get into bigger roaster instead of wasting money on smaller roaster.

  5. #5
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    When you folks say things like "why not waste money on a smaller roaster..." isn't there a market segment that would benefit from the smaller roasters? I'm in sort of the same boat as OP, in that I'm starting the journey toward learning roasting, and opening a small business, because I live in an area that has nothing but mega-commercial coffee, and there's a huge arts and crafts culture around here. But thinking about it, I wonder why I would want to start off with a higher capacity machine, when realistically, the early output could be handled on a sample roaster of significant enough capacity...

    The best coffee producer (for my dollar) in my region (50 minutes from me) roasts in 8 lb batches. And their beans are all over the city, and in a bunch of non-coffee products, like beer, food, etc.

    Please understand where I'm coming from--I'm asking a question, not suggesting that you folks are wrong. I think it's inevitable that I end up roasting coffee as a business, but I'm effectively a total novice. I've just been facing the same types of questions as OP, and researching machines and methodologies... I'm pretty convinced that in order to learn the trade with any reliable repeatability, one either has to go work for a roaster, or one has to buy the gear and clock the hours at a huge loss and initial startup expense, before even hoping to open a business. But coffee is something we get obsessive about, and what's money, in the face of obsession and art?

  6. #6
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    Not sure why a huge loss must take place when you get into the business. (But there is a considerable start up cost.)

    A question I like to ask is do you want to start off with a machine you will grow out of or into? If you are serious about the business, growing into a machine makes more sense to me.

    I can't imagine being chained to the roaster, producing 2-3 lb batches in order to cover wholesale orders for clients we've developed after only a few months in the business. (Our first wholesale order into an organic food store was for about 50 lbs the month we opened.)

    I started roasting 5-8 lb. batches after opening shop. Six months later, I'm doing some 20-25 lb. batches that leave the shop immediately after roasting. And we still have room for growth on this unit. (I still occasionally roast 1-2 lb. sample batches when a new bean comes in.) If I had a 3 lb. roaster, I'd basically be roasting close to 40 hours a week sometimes. As it stands, I can get that amount of production in 10 to 15 batches that take up no more than five hours per week and we do have the capacity to conservatively roast up to 375 lbs of beans in that same time frame. (That level of production would take up to 175 hours on a 3 lb. roaster.)

  7. #7
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    I may fundamentally underestimate demand. This is a fair point.

    Loss is not the right term, business-wise. It's a big startup cost, and I presume anyone getting into this business without a roasting background or apprenticeship is going to be making a lot of compost.

    Thanks.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Music_Geek View Post
    I presume anyone getting into this business without a roasting background or apprenticeship is going to be making a lot of compost.
    I think it depends on your temperament. I didn't have any experience roasting before purchasing our machine, other than the 8 hour training provided by the manufacturer. But I do a lot of cooking and my background is in the wine industry. I like to experiment, have a decent palate and enjoy critically analyzing the fruits of my labor.

    To be honest, roasting beans fits me to a "T". I like running numbers through my head and calculating the progress of a roast from the standpoint of temp rise per minute comes naturally to me. Monitoring barrel temp in relationship to the temp of a bean mass makes sense to me.

    I did throw out a fair amount of darkly roasted beans early on before realizing that my roaster never has to get above 410 to 420* even when I want to take the beans to 465 or 470*. I wouldn't even consider trying to pass off an inferior batch of burnt/charred beans to customers when I know I can do better. (You only get one chance to make a first impression.)

  9. #9
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    I have no idea what I'm talking about

    Point 1
    Pay roaster $10.00 / hour
    Pretend with weight loss, whatever capacity
    Roaster 1. does (3) batches of 3.33 pounds = 10 pounds a hour = $1.00 per pound in labor
    Roaster 2 does (3) batches of 6.66 pounds = 20 pounds a hour = $0.50 per pound in labor

    Point 2
    High end 1k lab roaster $14,000
    High end 5k retail roaster $27,000
    These aren't the best prices to use, because they are very specialized Basically the difference between price is less dramatic then the output. The smaller roasters will take more batches to pay off, if you look at depreciation as output instead of time.

    Did that make any sense?

  10. #10
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    Makes sense to me senor shave.

    Btw, one can purchase a 5kg shop roaster from US Roaster Corp for around $14,500.

 

 
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