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  1. #1
    Junior Member
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    Dec 2014
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    8

    Small roaster to gain skills

    Hello all! This is my first post as a new member and relatively new coffee roaster. I am looking for some feedback and/or advice. Here are some details:

    BACKGROUND: I have done a bit of home roasting on a whirly-pop over a propane flame. I am slowly developing more knowledge about roasting, and building my palate.

    GOAL: I recently moved to a small town where there is no quality coffee for miles. I want to start up a home-roasting business and deliver to friends and family as I develop my skills. If things go well, I may end up opening a cafe with a friend. At this point I am not looking for business advice...just giving some background. What I really need help with is determining the best roaster for my needs at this point in time.

    ROASTER: I need something I can install in my basement in a dedicated roasting room. I expect to roast 30+ pounds per week, and want to get a roaster that I can develop my skills on and get some consistent roasts. I want to stay under $10K...hopefully well below, unless it really makes sense to spend more at this point (this is part of what I am trying to figure out here).

    QUESTIONS:
    • How important is it that I get a drum roaster? Ideally, I would want to gain skills that translate to a larger roaster within a few years if I grow out of my basement. A local person is selling a Sonofresco, but I am shying away as I feel it isn't the best roaster to build my roasting skills on.
    • I've been looking at the TJ-067 gas roaster through Mill City. What is the latest word on the street on this one? For my specific situation and goals, does it seem like a front runner in that price range? I would love to go with US Roaster or SF, but can't really spend $15-20K at this point. I would probably go with US Roaster if I was ready to get a business loan.
    • Any other things to consider in my hunt for a roaster?


    Thanks in advance for your input.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Northern California
    Posts
    227
    Beanwagon, sounds cool. I recommend you consider calling the manufacturers you are interested in and asking them if they know of any used roasters coming in that will be refurbished and then resold. I found my SF6 this way, and got a 9 year old roaster refurbished by the manufacturer for 2/3 of the cost of a new one. From my experience, it's worth a shot.

  3. #3
    Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Posts
    50
    I second Redswing's advice. You definitely want to go with a drum roaster. I believe you can get a SF1 within your budget however, it would be 10 plus hours a week to produce 30 lb. That said it is probably the best and cheapest way to learn and the SF1 would be a useful tool even down the road as a sample roaster if you did grow.
    I went with the IR1 but that was just a touch out of your budget, but will produce about 2x as much per roast. No experience outside of that with roasters but my requirement was to purchase something built in the USA.
    Warning note here... be careful and make sure that you understand all the requirements of installing a roaster (gas and venting requirements specifically). Understand what you can and can't do per code in your region as a business selling coffee (it may not be what you expect) and per building codes (if you are going to go that route).
    Good luck!!!

  4. #4
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
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    8
    Quote Originally Posted by Redswing View Post
    Beanwagon, sounds cool. I recommend you consider calling the manufacturers you are interested in and asking them if they know of any used roasters coming in that will be refurbished and then resold. I found my SF6 this way, and got a 9 year old roaster refurbished by the manufacturer for 2/3 of the cost of a new one. From my experience, it's worth a shot.
    Thanks Redswing. It seems to be a recurring theme here on the forums to contact the manufacturers. I'll be sure to make some calls and connect, and hope to find a higher quality roaster. Speaking of which, I have mostly been looking at Coffeetec, Ebay, Amazon, this site and Craigslist for used roasters. Are there any other decent venues to find used equipment?

    Thanks again!

  5. #5
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
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    8
    Quote Originally Posted by Amhas View Post
    I second Redswing's advice. You definitely want to go with a drum roaster. I believe you can get a SF1 within your budget however, it would be 10 plus hours a week to produce 30 lb. That said it is probably the best and cheapest way to learn and the SF1 would be a useful tool even down the road as a sample roaster if you did grow.
    I went with the IR1 but that was just a touch out of your budget, but will produce about 2x as much per roast. No experience outside of that with roasters but my requirement was to purchase something built in the USA.
    Warning note here... be careful and make sure that you understand all the requirements of installing a roaster (gas and venting requirements specifically). Understand what you can and can't do per code in your region as a business selling coffee (it may not be what you expect) and per building codes (if you are going to go that route).
    Good luck!!!
    Thanks for the advice, Amhas. I guess I didn't realize that the SF1 was within my budget. I'll give them a call and see what I can find out. Also, thanks for mentioning local business and building codes with respect to installing a roaster. I have spoken with someone locally who installed a Sonofresco and obtained a local business license, which included an inspection. I'll be sure to dig a little deeper to make sure I don't get too far down this path without knowing the local requirements.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Milwaukee, WI
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    1,157
    Roasters are like cigar humidors; you should always buy twice the size you think you'll need.

    What is your 30+ lbs. per week based on?

    How much time can you take from other areas of life and devote them to roasting. Not to mention sourcing greens - roasting/cupping samples, labeling/bagging - spending time in transacting w/ customers, etc,... that stuff takes as much time as does the roasting.

    Then, assuming your 30+ number is accurate, why would that number be accurate in six months or a year?

    If you buy a roaster that is outgrown too quickly you'll waste more time trying to sell it and find the next size up. Or, if you just live with a too-small roaster, you'll end up spending too much time roasting and not doing the other necessary things to build your business.

  7. #7
    Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Singapore
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    33
    Good day to all coffee friends,
    I am new here, pardon me if I had repeated the following for discussion;
    Anyone tried roasting 1kg of coffee using 15 kg roaster? how is the roast profile like? In term of temperature vs time controls.
    Thank you.

  8. #8
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
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    8
    Quote Originally Posted by peterjschmidt View Post
    Roasters are like cigar humidors; you should always buy twice the size you think you'll need.

    What is your 30+ lbs. per week based on?

    How much time can you take from other areas of life and devote them to roasting. Not to mention sourcing greens - roasting/cupping samples, labeling/bagging - spending time in transacting w/ customers, etc,... that stuff takes as much time as does the roasting.

    Then, assuming your 30+ number is accurate, why would that number be accurate in six months or a year?

    If you buy a roaster that is outgrown too quickly you'll waste more time trying to sell it and find the next size up. Or, if you just live with a too-small roaster, you'll end up spending too much time roasting and not doing the other necessary things to build your business.
    Hello peterjschmidt,

    Thanks for your comments. This actually gets to the heart of my dilemma! I really hope to grow a business within a year or two, which would definitely require a bigger roaster. However, I do not have the resources right now to really get the roaster that I want if I were to have a full-fledged business. The idea here is that I start with a small, home-based business to gain/expand my roasting, sourcing, cupping, and brewing skills. If it takes off and feels right, then I will most likely get a business loan to expand...move out of the basement, get a bigger roaster, possibly partner with someone to open a shop of some kind. At this point, I am trying to figure out the best roaster for this "test phase" of roasting for me. I want something where I can build skills without having to get a big loan to do it. I started out considering a Sonofresco, but I'm thinking that I want to roast on a drum roaster if things progress to the next level. This led me to look at lower priced drum roasters.

    Still trying to figure it out!

  9. #9
    Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
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    50
    Quote Originally Posted by beanwagon View Post
    Hello peterjschmidt,

    Thanks for your comments. This actually gets to the heart of my dilemma! I really hope to grow a business within a year or two, which would definitely require a bigger roaster. However, I do not have the resources right now to really get the roaster that I want if I were to have a full-fledged business. The idea here is that I start with a small, home-based business to gain/expand my roasting, sourcing, cupping, and brewing skills. If it takes off and feels right, then I will most likely get a business loan to expand...move out of the basement, get a bigger roaster, possibly partner with someone to open a shop of some kind. At this point, I am trying to figure out the best roaster for this "test phase" of roasting for me. I want something where I can build skills without having to get a big loan to do it. I started out considering a Sonofresco, but I'm thinking that I want to roast on a drum roaster if things progress to the next level. This led me to look at lower priced drum roasters.

    Still trying to figure it out!
    Beanwagon,

    This is exactly what I'm doing as well, but I expect there are numerous others doing the same. I went with the IR1 so I could produce some volume, because of just that point noted by Peter. The next size up is generally around 6 lb or 3 kilo. Price and volume is an issue there.
    Also one other thing I forgot to mention don't forget to budget for the other things you need for the install. Like the gas line (got this done cheap for under $300), the venting (this is going to probably cost me around $500 for materials from what I can gather not including labor), and the table or any other setup/staging. The little things can add up.

  10. #10
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Milwaukee, WI
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    1,157
    I also did what you are thinking about, but kept it among friends/family/neighbors/church people. My sales have hovered ~70#/month, and for 7 years of my 10 years of roasting/selling coffee, I did so using two SC/TO's... you can google that, but it's a very good way to cobble together a roaster and will produce very good results... and could produce 4#/hour; not bad for a $100 roaster. Since moving up to a 2K Ambex, I'm enjoying the results a tad more, but especially enjoy the time-saving as well as having a 'real' roaster to show off to customers/friends.

 

 
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