First off, how hard is it to start a small coffee roasting business?
Since starting a coffee roasting is less common than the opening of, say, a pizza shop in your city, you’ll have to do a little more research to find out what legal requirements and regulations are going to be required. This research is the first step to starting any business in your region. There are different rules depending on where you live; so a perfect plan on the East Coast may not get off the ground out west.
After that step is complete, you’ll want to consider these next issues:
Workspace, or your roasting shop
Now, you may not find a facility with the following list of items already in place, so you’ll have to make changes to include them. If that’s the case, do the research to learn the costs of these updates beforehand:
- You will need gas, electric and very importantly – ventilation for your bean roaster.
- Cleaning and storage area
- You will need wipeable ceilings and walls
- A 3-compartment sink
- Racks or a place for space enough for racks to keep bags of beans off the floor, and additional racks for the different stages of beans (green or roasted)
- Light bulbs that covered in plastic casing
- A space for your commercial scales
- Countertops for shipping supplies and bagging
- Workstation with your pour-overs, drip machines, and other small scale goods to sample and test your blends
Regarding your roasting procedures, you’ll want to consider the sanitation upkeep of your equipment. Include in your budget the costs for regular cleaning – again you’ll need to check on the commercial shop legal regulations in your area. You will also want to do regular pest control and prevention.
Once you check with the local business bureau, you will find out how many, or which permits you will need to run your coffee roaster. There are different permits relating to varying issues such as environmental, or food safety and selling permits.
Bank, insurance, and business legal structure
You will need to find good, local bank that you like and open a business count and obtain a tax ID number. Also, you will need to purchase liability insurance and talk to a business lawyer about getting your business set up with the right legal structure that will work for your type of business while giving you the greatest tax benefits.
Obtain adequate skill
Obviously, all those listed above need to be considered and implemented as a foundation to running a successful coffee roasting business. Next, comes the education and experience of your trade. There are conferences, training videos, online classes and of course book study to get you up to snuff with your understanding of bean roasting. You’ll want to talk to experienced and successful coffee roasters to get their tips and resources regarding the purchase of good green coffee beans.
When you are confident you have enough knowledge, you need to practice, practice, practice your roasting. Come up with what you love, and sell your expertise as part of the business. Experiment at making different blends and try and find something unique that sets your roast apart.
Business and Marketing Plans
It’s best to start small and scale up as you go. Since there is so much to learn initially, and you’d be wise, unless you have a boat-load of start-up capital, to keep things very simple at the beginning by gradually roasting small batches and giving them, or even selling them to friends and family. You can purchase smaller roasting machines to get started, then after you are comfortable with all the aspects of the business, trade up for a large and more profitable machine. You can pay 3k to 60k for coffee roasters. (You may be able to find some good deals at eBay) So there is a vast spectrum and a lot of space to grow in knowledge before investing a significant amount of money. So get a plan, make some goals and research and invest in a website and whatever marketing materials you will need to begin.
There’s no doubt that you can succeed if you remember a couple of things: Be honest in your dealings, start humble, don’t be afraid to ask guidance from multiple sources, help others along the way, study and commit yourself to working until you succeed – i.e., don’t give up.
We found a great little video to aid in your research on starting a coffee roasting business. Happy Roasting!