A coffee roasting business is often a good way to get into the coffee industry because of what it doesn’t require: a hefty upfront investment. But in order to be competitive when compared to every other artisan coffee roaster entering the market, there are a few things a successful coffee roasting business does need. Here are the five most important to get you started:
- Good Green Coffee Beans
Green coffee beans vary in price, and it might be tempting to buy the cheapest ones in order to increase your profit margins. But coffee beans also vary widely in quality. Arabica beans are generally considered to have better flavor than those grown on Robusta trees, but you’ll need to be even more particular if you’re going to sell your coffee to gourmet coffee aficionados. The country of origin, seasonal climate, type of soil — even the altitude at which the beans were grown — all affect their flavor. You’ll want to pick your beans as carefully as vintners do their grapes.
- A Top Commercial Coffee Roaster Machine
Once you’ve got your green beans, you’ll need to get to the heart of your business: roasting them. It’s best to start with a small batch coffee roaster (a fluid bed model being a slightly better option than a drum roaster). This will allow you to experiment for the perfect roast to complement each coffee blend and control your startup costs.
- Diverse Community Relationships
When you’re starting a coffee roasting business, it’s important that you build relationships with potential customers. That means knowing the owners of local coffee shops (whom you might be able to convince to try your products instead of those offered by mass suppliers), farmer’s market regulars and potential online clients. In general, it’s a good idea to get connected to the artisan community in your area, since these types of businesses often cross-promote and share customers.
- A Great Marketing Plan
Take everything you know about coffee and use it to create a need for your product in particular. Educate potential consumers about the health benefits of coffee, the many steps in coffee processing that all lead to a great flavor, and the abundance of options they have in expanding their coffee horizons. Since you’ll almost certainly be unable to compete with Folgers on price, you need to show your customers why they should buy your product instead of the cheap and convenient canisters they find on the shelves at their local supermarkets.
- Clear Goals for Growth
Is your goal to run a small side business out of your home, selling your coffee online or at farmer’s markets? Would you prefer to cater to small coffee shops or chains? Do you want to open your own storefront someday? While you’ll probably start small no matter what, answering these questions and setting out clear steps to achieve them in a formal business plan are a proven way to speed growth and get you where you want to be five or 10 years from now.
What else do you think can set a local coffee roaster apart from competitors both large and small? Share your thoughts in the comments.