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New coffee roasting business - seeking farmers market advice

almico

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Feb 17, 2015
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I'm in the midst of starting a coffee roasting business in central NJ. My plan was to roast in my outfitted garage and sell mostly wholesale B to B.

Before you ask, I have already secured:

permission from my municipality for a home occupation
food handling license from municipality
"Satisfactory" inspection from County health inspector
State business certification and
Sales and use tax certificate
Business checking and merchant account etc

So I'm all legit now.

I've gotten a few accounts at local general stores and am working the local caterers, restaurants and cafes. There are a couple of roasters in the area, but also lots of bad coffee still being served, so I have a market.

This has been a 7 month project to this point (since I was fired from the day job before Christmas) and funds are running out. I need to generate some cash flow and got a gig at a local farmers market and am looking for a couple more to help get my name out. I started last week for the first time. I did OK since it was my first day and sold about $200 worth of beans, both ground and whole bean, but wow, lots to learn! I need to get my rap and moves down.

One thing I learned is that I need to offer brewed coffee as well as just my beans. This is where my question comes in. I really don't want to be a cafe. I want to roast and sell beans. My plan was to brew some coffee before hand and bring it in an airpot an offer free samples, or make some Aeropress cups in front of people to show them how easy it is. But people were looking to buy coffee from me, so I think I need to address that revenue stream.

There is no electricity there, but I found out I can bring a little quiet generator and I happen to have one. So now I can bring all whole beans and my Grindmaster and let people grind them right there. I can also bring an electric kettle to prepare pour overs or Aeropress doses quicker than the propane camping stove I used last week.

I can even brew coffee there to fill the airpots (I have (4) 5 liter pots), but it might be better to do that at home...yes / no?

Although I'm strictly a hot coffee drinker (regardless of season), I got a lot of requests for iced coffee so I'm thinking about cold brewing the night before and filling 1 or 2 airpots. Do I make it concentrated and add water/ice when serving? I already have 10oz hot cups for the samples I was preparing to give out (now sell), but do I need larger plastic cups for the iced coffee? Like I said, I know nothing about the ice coffee drink. Its not my gig.

I'd appreciate any input, suggestions, questions.
 

IslandRoast

New member
Dec 5, 2013
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Carolina Beach, NC
almico, I've been doing the farmers markets for about 3 yrs now just to help get my brand out to people that visit the area where I live. I live in a beach community so we get a lot of tourist traffic throughout the summer, but this has translated into year round sales through my website. What I started doing was providing free samples of my coffee. I brew an airpot of my 5 best sellers, have small sample cups I ordered from a restaurant supply company and small creamers/sugar/etc. That way people can actually taste what they are buying. It just about doubled my sales at the markets. I have since started selling cold brew iced coffees at the markets which has also increased sales of the fresh roasted coffees.
I also go to 3-4 large venue events (10,000-25,000 people) during the year which exposes more people to my brand. This has resulted not only in increased internet sales but also in to additional whole accounts from people that first purchased my coffee at the events.
 
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almico

almico

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Feb 17, 2015
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Sounds like we're on the same page; you're just a few years ahead of me. What are you using to brew coffee in large quantities for your airpots? I don't own a large "coffee maker". I was thinking about making a tall down and dirty dripping station and using a #4 dripper to do multiple pour overs directly into the airpot, but that sounds a bit awkward.
 
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almico

almico

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Feb 17, 2015
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Thanks! Great to be here. Lots of helpful people and information. Hope I can contribute a bit.

I have a question: I'm building a nice little 5 cone drip station for Hario V60s

I'll be using a Zojirushi CD-LTC50-BA for my hot water source and a Bonavita stovetop kettle for pouring. For the time being I'll be brewing directly into 10oz hot cups. I'm using my Baratza Preciso to grind one dose at a time, but am trying to get my brain around how to control the water. I can't use a scale under the drip station and not much use having one under the cup. Maybe I can use a scale under the Bonavida when I'm transferring water from the Zojirushi? The Zojirushi can maintain 208* water temp. Would I lose too much heat by only transferring one dose of water at a time? Or is it just a matter of practicing my pour technique precisely?
 
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peterjschmidt

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Oct 10, 2013
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Milwaukee, WI
I'd say you'll get very good at learning when to stop the pour. Or, have a drip tray thingie handy, and just pull the V-60 off of the stand when the cup is filled to where you want it so that any excess coffee can drip out.

This is only my opinion, but I never bought into the idea that there is a discernible difference in the taste of the coffee based on whether the water was weighed or measured by volume. I understand why people do it, but IMNSHO it's nothing more than a manifestation of how us coffee nuts want to geek out to the nth degree.

I think it's easier to measure the volume, and stop imagining that I can taste the infinitesimal difference because I didn't weigh. Perhaps you can count how long it takes to dispense a given amount of water from the Zojirushi into the Bonavita, and watch the volume either in the filter or the cup.
 

Musicphan

Well-known member
May 11, 2014
1,594
31
Kansas City
One option to consider is using the Clever brewer... very easy to use... rinse your filter / add coffee / add water to set height and wait. Easiest manual brewer I have ever used and creates a great cup of coffee.
 
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almico

almico

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Feb 17, 2015
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I love my clever, but I need a woodworking project and like the look of the multi cone drip stations.

Quick question in the hario v60: i've looked everywhere but I can't find a dimension for the flange on the bottom and the opening. I have the 02s on order but wanted to get started on the station. The top opening is 116mm. I scaled the dimensions off a picture and came up with 105mm for the flange and 59 for the bottom lip. ???
 
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almico

almico

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Feb 17, 2015
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I'd say you'll get very good at learning when to stop the pour. Or, have a drip tray thingie handy, and just pull the V-60 off of the stand when the cup is filled to where you want it so that any excess coffee can drip out.

This is only my opinion, but I never bought into the idea that there is a discernible difference in the taste of the coffee based on whether the water was weighed or measured by volume. I understand why people do it, but IMNSHO it's nothing more than a manifestation of how us coffee nuts want to geek out to the nth degree.

I think it's easier to measure the volume, and stop imagining that I can taste the infinitesimal difference because I didn't weigh. Perhaps you can count how long it takes to dispense a given amount of water from the Zojirushi into the Bonavita, and watch the volume either in the filter or the cup.

thanks Peter. I'm not that anal about weight. I just thought it would be quick and easy. My goal is to show all those Keurig people how easy it is to make a cup of coffee. Making a mess would be counter productive!
 

IslandRoast

New member
Dec 5, 2013
59
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Carolina Beach, NC
Sounds like we're on the same page; you're just a few years ahead of me. What are you using to brew coffee in large quantities for your airpots? I don't own a large "coffee maker". I was thinking about making a tall down and dirty dripping station and using a #4 dripper to do multiple pour overs directly into the airpot, but that sounds a bit awkward.

I use a Bunn VPR series brewer right into the airpots. When I'm trying to keep samples of my 5 beat sellers full and there are 10,000-25,000 people at the larger events a pour over wont keep up. At the farmers markets that usually have 300-500 people coming through I just brew into the airpots at my shop and setup a sample table at the market. You can get a commercial brewer relatively cheap ($200-$300) from a restaurant supply company. I've got 2 of them in case one quits working during an event.
 
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almico

almico

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Feb 17, 2015
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I'm filling 4 5L pots with cold brew and the hot stuff I'll make drip. Traffic is not overwhelming so far. Here's a pic of the drip station I made this morning:

 

wgiffard

New member
Feb 15, 2016
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Texas
I would tap your local market through online sales. Work locally and watch it slowly build into a nationwide brand.
 

MelissaJones

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Jun 15, 2017
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I would suggest bringing an electric kettle. Super convenient and stays warm. It also heats up in seconds depending on which one you have. I use my Hamilton Beach 40865 Glass Electric Kettle, 1.7-Liter which I got from toponlinereviews
 
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