The 3 Biggest Mistakes to Avoid When Starting a Coffee Roasting Business

Green coffee roaster

If you’re looking to get into an extremely profitable industry at a relatively low price point, then you might consider starting your own coffee roasting business. If you play your cards right, you can get started for well under $10,000, but professional coffee roasters are an integral part of the $20 billion global coffee market. Obviously, though, not all coffee roasters are as successful as others. Here are three mistakes that can kill your business almost as soon as you get started roasting:

  1. Not Defining Clear Goals Upfront

    There’s nothing wrong with starting small and seeing where your coffee roasting business goes. But that doesn’t mean you can get away with not having a business plan. No matter how modestly you intend to begin your enterprise, you need to set clear goals and figure out what you’ll need to achieve them. If you want to keep your business online, you’ll need web development services. If you want to create a space for yourself in the local artisanal market, you’ll need to make local contacts. If you want to open a public roastery that includes a storefront and coffee shop, make concrete steps toward that end. No matter what, you’ll also need to research your competition (so you can find your niche in the market) and create a solid marketing plan.

  2. Starting Out With Too Much Debt

    Unless you have savings, it’s probable you’ll need to borrow some amount of money to start your coffee roasting business. But especially in this slowly growing — but still fickle — economy, you should attempt to minimize that debt as much as you possibly can. One easy way to do that is not jumping into a storefront enterprise, even if that’s part of your business plan eventually. Another is by starting off with a small batch coffee roaster, rather than a giant commercial coffee roaster machine. This can cut your starting costs down by about a third, probably. And since coffee tastes much better within a week of roasting, it’s wise to only roast as much as you can immediately sell, anyway.

  3. Roasting Without an Education

    Much of coffee roasting is an art. As you continue to roast over time, you’ll develop an intuitive sense of how long certain types of beans should be roasted and which blends will make the best-tasting cup of coffee. This is an aspect of coffee roasting you’ll never achieve without forgoing the timer and experimenting. However, it’s also smart to invest in some real education. The less coffee you waste experimenting (remember, green coffee beans are expensive!) and the sooner you can turn out a great-tasting roast to build your customer base, the better chance you have of becoming a profitable business.

What other mistakes might rookie coffee roasters make? Share your tips on what to avoid in the comments.

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