Ahhh, the smell of freshly roasted coffee, the intrigue of a giant coffee roaster -looking not unlike the business end of a steam locomotive- the money that you save buying and storing green coffee rather than sourcing roasted coffees elsewhere… everyone should be roasting coffee in their own retail shop, right? Well, maybe.
“Should I buy coffee from others or to my own?” is a question of increasing popularity among new and prospective coffee shop owners today.
Start a Coffee Roasting Business, Cafe or Both?
The disciplines and capital equipment required to both start a coffee roasting business and start a retail cafe well can be prohibitive for the typical new business owner. Any cost benefit that the novice roaster may obtain by roasting-their-own will likely be offset by the lack of sales volume in the coffee shop from roasting-it-badly. Not to mention, it can be tricky to find a good location that will accommodate both operations (don’t).
If a retail coffee shop is your business focus, select a roaster-partner that can work with you collaboratively and supply good, high quality fresh product weekly. There are any number of very good full-time small artisan roasters around the country that will gladly work with you to produce your own private label signature blends. Consider contacting the SCAA Roasters’ Guild for a referral to a local roaster that will be best suited to your business approach and style.
However, if coffee roasting is your true calling, dedicate yourself to learning as much about roasting as possible, make it a full time profession and do it well. Be aware that any retail storefront is going to absorb a significant portion of your time, and you should be staffed and funded accordingly.
There is no reason that a coffee shop cannot also be their own successful roaster, look at any of a number of retailer-roasters around the country that are outstanding successes; it just may be more effective at the onset of a new business venture to fully understand one craft before taking on two single handedly.