Owning a coffee roasting business can be a profitable and rewarding endeavor, whether you’ve worked in the coffee industry before or not. One of the greatest advantages of becoming a professional coffee roaster is that it’s fairly easy to start small (without having to put in a big upfront investment, as you would with a coffee shop) and expand as your customer base grows. Here are three tips for getting started:
- Learn the Basics
Roasting is the process that brings out the flavor (and aroma!) of green coffee beans, and takes place before the beans are ground and brewed. Typically, different flavors are achieved by how dark the coffee beans are roasted. Lighter roasts allow the individual characteristics of the bean to take center stage, whereas darker roasts tend to have a robust but more uniform flavor. Interestingly enough, there are regional, as well as individual, preferences regarding roasts: the East Coast tends to prefer lighter roasts (hence so-called “New England Roast,” which is roasted only until the first crack), while the West Coast tends toward darker roasts (one reason that Starbucks is sometimes disparagingly called “Char-bucks”).
- Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment
Though knowing the approximate times for making light, medium and dark roast coffees in your roaster is a good start, making good gourmet coffee will require experimentation. You should taste as many different blends and roasts of coffee as you can, and then see what roasts bring out the flavors of various coffee varieties. Eventually, you’ll start to develop an intuitive sense of how certain beans should be roasted for the best results.
- Start With a Small Coffee Roaster
When you’re looking at commercial coffee roaster machines, it’s easy to get carried away (or intimidated by their high prices). But an affordable, small coffee roaster is all you really need to get started. In fact, it’s preferable, since you’ll be able to experiment without as much waste, sell your roasted beans while they’re still fresh instead of accruing a backstock, and even brand yourself as an artisanal coffee roaster. If you end up being wildly successful and wanting a larger machine at some point, that’s great — but there’s really no need to over-invest at first.
Would you be content sticking to a small coffee roaster as part of your home business, or is your dream to one day own a big storefront and sell your coffee around the world? Share your aspirations (and your plans for getting there) in the comments.