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Signs of a quality Roaster? Supplier?

rtippit2000

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Oct 10, 2005
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I am looking for a supplier in my area. I just though I would ask opinions on what to look for in a quality Roaster.

Of course stability, dependability, quality, cost; what are the signs of a quality supplier? What are the signs of a struggling roaster? What are the signs of a begginer?

Just thought I would get some insight into the selection process.

Thanks
 

BeanGrinder

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Aug 11, 2004
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North Georgia, USA
Well, to start with, if they are roasting on a George Foreman grill, they would fall into the amatuer category.

Quality is the key and typically in the tastebuds of the beholder. I won't even get started on Starbucks! But you might look at their distribution - if you find they have a good customer base and people are satisfied with their product, then what more do you need?

Stability vs Struggling? So, you want a quality coffee roaster that is also a good business person? See above. I would rule out size, though, as small doesn't mean bad or unstable. When my father was a small boy, he and Grandma would go down the street to the neighbor's house on Saturday morning to buy their coffee. "Mr. Cap" as he was known, roasted in his garage! Usually he roasted enough coffee to supply his store - the Community Mercantile in Baton Rouge. Mr. Cap Saurage founded that store in 1919 and today Community Coffee is all over the planet. You never know. I sure downed a lot of it when I was at LSU! (Usually on Saturday mornings, but that's a twisted story for another time.)

You spelled "beginner" wrong, but then we were all "begginers" with that once. Sorry, some of us roasters pay attention to the details!

Your profile doesn't give us much to go on. What area are you in? We can direct you to some roasters worth trying if you give us a little more information.

In any case, good luck.
 
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rtippit2000

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Oct 10, 2005
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Thanks for the reply BeanGrinder.

I am sure there are standards and practices throughout the roasting industry. As you see in this forum, every roaster has their own opinion.

Taste, as you mentioned, is subjective.

When I visit the roaster and his shop is dirty or the equipment is in poor condition that roaster would probably not top my list of future suppliers. These are obvious signs. I was hoping my question would solicit the more subtle signs that professional roasters would know immediately whereas others would not see the problem.

Do I want my roaster to be a good businessman? Absolutely.

If the roaster suddenly goes bankrupt or can’t handle the management of his business then I will lose a supplier (maybe unexpectedly) or have an inconsistent supply. Having more than one supplier would protect me from this but I’m trying to avoid supply problems.

This fall my shop will open near Detroit Michigan. Hopefully, I will have found a few suppliers and have a private label well before opening. Stability and dependability will be key factors in my choice of suppliers.

I really appreciate your opinion and I agree with you that supply chain management is one key indicator of a quality supplier.

I also apologize for my spelling error; roasters do have an eye for detail!

In the future I will pay more attention to my spelling. I wouldn’t want to look like an amateur. Thanks for setting me straight.
 

Coffee Guy

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Oct 19, 2003
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Seattle,Washington USA
Hey R2000:

For the most part, I think you may have already answered your own questions. Those are the opening qualities of good roasters. However, some of the less obvious signs would include that roaster's love for the art of roasting. Not being afraid of creating, i.e., experimenting with new blends and recipies. Their ability to educate you about coffee, and especially your coffee if you buy from them. And last but not least (in an effort to keep this post short) their motivation for roasting and continuing to search for ways of getting better...As in any business one should always look for ways to improve, and to me those are some of the keys to finding a good roaster :wink:

And by the way BG, great story :)
 

BeanGrinder

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Aug 11, 2004
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North Georgia, USA
rtippit2000 - you passed the test! Your attention to detail will serve you well. I'd say you are even worthy of being my customer! :wink: But, alas, I'm too far away to help you - by the time my bean arrive they would be three day old!

All joking aside, there are some good roasters in your area. You'll have to visit them - discuss your plans and get some samples. It's the only way you'll be able to get a feel for their worth as a roaster. Their number of years in business is an obvious indicator. Size, as I mention, is not as important - there are some excellent roasters out there that operate small shops. The product is the crucial factor and you should determine the contents of the blends you are serving. Then if the roaster you choose goes out of business, not all is lost and you can move on to a new roaster.

There are a couple of posts here on the forum that name roasters in your area - do a search and those messages should pop up.

Good luck with it!

-BG
 

rpcortez

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Mar 4, 2006
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Arizona
Looking for a good roaster.

Hello There. I am a coffee roaster with more than 10 years of experience. this exchange of ideas has been very educacional. If I was a coffee shop owner looking for a roaster, I will look for someone that has passion and inegrity. Someone that will actually give you a product that He or She cups and feel as if it was it's own product, even when it's served at your cafe. I will demand the date of roasting to be on each bag (wich better be of specialty coffee standart). I will ask this roaster: which is his procedure for sellecting greens and how many samples of each coffee he gets prior to purchasing. I will also ask them about the technology used in it's roasting operation and very important how does he handles smoke contamination during and after roasting (some roasters have to be modified in order to produce clean coffee).
I ussualy can tell when there is no mention of the use of spectrophotometer, If a roasting cycle takes more than 16 minutes (any batch) and if the cooling takes more than 3 minutes, that I am dealing with someone that has not researched coffee roasting in a proffesional way. By the way, I am a Costa Rican national , sorry for any spelling errors
( Please focus on the idea).
 

Coffee Guy

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Oct 19, 2003
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Seattle,Washington USA
Hey rpcortez:

Welcome aboard. :D All of those are great suggestions, however, to the non roaster, that's a little too much information. Although your intentions are good, truth of the matter is, most coffee shop or espresso business owners would not have a clue what you are talking about. It is mostly important that you provide your customer(s) with the best tasting coffee you can and educate them on the blend that you are serving them. We as roasters are artists in charge of our craft, and our responsibilty is to create the finest taste in the cup for others to enjoy :grin:
 
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rtippit2000

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Oct 10, 2005
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We as roasters are artists in charge of our craft, and our responsibilty is to create the finest taste in the cup for others to enjoy

Some retailers might actually want to know the green bean selection process used by their roaster/supplier. How many samples requested by the roaster is part of their TQM process and it seems like a reasonable question.

Retailers may never need to know the roasting/cooling times, details of smoke contamination or what tools are used in the roasters “artisticâ€
 

rpcortez

New member
Mar 4, 2006
2
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Arizona
how to find a good coffee roasters

By Knowing the cooling time and the smoke factor, you may be sellecting a coffee roaster that does not mask the original frutty taste of a natural coffee. Some of us roast with high amounts of smoke in the roasting drum were virtually all coffees taste the same. Some of us roasters think that coffee chemistry is a waste of time. I owe to my customer to obtain absolute consistency and the art factor is only the first blending session, after that, to be consistant several thousand pounds later, is all science. If you go with somebody that does not ask for as many samples of different origins as he can, you may deal with somebody that actually thinks that all Costa Rican Tarrazu coffee is the same, without thinking on the initial procesing (washed , natural, seminatural), aging, and sorting. You are trusting a big part of your success to the roaster. Ask as much as you can and be as knowledgeable as he or she is, sometimes you will teach a lesson.
 

Coffee Guy

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Oct 19, 2003
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Seattle,Washington USA
Hey rtippit2000:

I agree, it's very important to educate the customer on their coffee. In fact I generally insist on educating all customers with regard to the origins, grade, properties, etc. I'm just stating that most may not share our interest in the technical aspects like the chemistry, airflow to heat ratios and the like. Besides it's always fun to talk coffee with customers and anyone else who is willing to listen :D And rpcortez don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that you are incorrect in your opinion about educating the customer, just not so much in the technical details about roasting :wink: O.K. I still call roasting and art, even past the first blending session. And yeah it does involve science, but when you go after a new account I think using the term "Art" would sell more in a presentation than the word "Science". I guess we are both stating the same point but just slightly different. "You say say to-ma-to...I say to-mo-to" 8)
 
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