Running a coffee shop is a great way to connect with a community. Locals enjoy your menu items, appreciate the atmosphere you provide, and respect the expertise and attention of your staff. Yet, you likely know that you can take your business further.
One way you can do this is by no longer simply relying on products from suppliers of grounds or ready-roasted beans. Incorporating a roastery into your business model can help you gain better control over the flavor and quality of your coffee. It also means you can sell your proprietary beans directly to your customers for home use in your shop or online.
Transitioning from a coffee shop to a coffee roaster is a significant leap, though. Let’s look at some of the key considerations you’ll need to make.
Every business has a finite budget and getting the most value from roasting requires a mindful approach to costs. Before you start, get a solid idea of the likely one-time and regular expenses.
Some of these will include:
Your primary equipment investment will naturally be your choice of roaster. In general, your options here include traditional drum roasters, indirectly fired roasters, fluid bed roasters, and recirculation roasters—among others. To some extent, your equipment decision will be based on the types of flavor profiles you want to achieve and the volumes you intend to roast.
Coffee roasting can be performed traditionally without anything other than a roasting machine. However, doing so effectively requires a range of calculations and adjustments for specific outcomes. This is where coffee roasting software can be a valuable investment. However, if you’re on a tight budget, there are open-source platforms available, such as Artisan.
One of your ongoing costs to fit into your budget is the power resources your new roasters will use. While older machines might be immediately cheaper, you may find they’re less efficient, resulting in more fuel or power expenditure in the long run. Choosing a low-energy electric roaster instead of a gas-powered item is likely to reduce your running costs.
While there are various industrial bean suppliers, it is both in line with industry trends and a responsible approach to trade directly with farmers. Firstly, this helps to ensure that a fair share of profits goes to the provider and their communities. You can also have a positive dialogue in which you can gain greater insights into the quality control process and receive communications about potential issues.
This also helps provide the transparency that tends to support sustainable coffee programs. When both roaster and supplier have access to data on the agricultural process, there is a better chance for shared openness that confirms ethical and effective practices are being used.
You should get to know what advanced agricultural technology potential suppliers are using, too.
Smart farming tools supported by 5G are transforming efficiency in agriculture at the moment. These automate unnecessarily repetitive tasks. 5G also enables more efficient data collection so that AI software can optimize the performance of the farm. Working with suppliers that embrace these tools can both ensure responsible techniques and bolster the reliability of your bean supply.
When transitioning from a coffee shop to a roastery, you must decide on what methods to use in the roasting process. We’ve briefly touched on the different machines you may need to invest in. However, it’s important to understand that the roasting technique can affect the flavor you present to your customers.
The two main methods to consider here are:
Drum roasters operate by rotating the beans over a heat source. The beans are roasted both by direct contact with the hot drum and by the warm air. Drum roasting is usually recommended if you’re aiming for a dark-roasted flavor profile. However, you should be aware that achieving consistency with this method is difficult. You must have significant skill and knowledge to get it right.
Hot air roasting
Hot air roasting tends to be faster than other roasting methods. Essentially, heat is produced at the bottom of the machine and hot air is forced through vents to roast the beans in an upper chamber. The movement of air and pressure also keeps the beans moving to provide a more consistent and predictable roast. This method tends to be more appropriate for lighter or more nuanced roasting blends.
Branding the Product
Roasting the product is not the only key task as you move from shop to roaster. You also need to be able to effectively sell your beans to discerning consumers. This is where a focus on branding is essential.
Firstly, your packaging will be the main draw in your premises and online store. Customizing your labels to highlight your brand attributes can entice consumers. Ensure your company logo certainly helps your loyal customers connect the product to your business. However, it’s also wise to utilize imagery that emphasizes the impression you want to give about your beans. This may be an illustration of a classic roasting machine for your artisanal brand. If you want to showcase your commitment to fair agricultural collaborations, you can use an illustration of coffee bean farmers.
Your roasting brand-building should also extend to other forms of digital marketing. Produce videos that show the behind-the-scenes activities of your new operation. Create blogs and social media posts about the care you’ve applied to develop the best quality products. Even hosting tastings at local events can be a useful branding tool.
Incorporating roasting into your coffee shop business can be challenging. It’s important to take a mindful approach to your investment budget concerning both immediate and recurring costs. Wherever possible, source your beans directly from farmers who use sustainable smart agriculture methods. While choosing a quality roasting method is important, you should also ensure you brand your beans effectively to ensure consumer engagement. With some focus and planning, you can find roasting your beans in-house to be an invaluable component of your business.
Luke Smith is a writer and researcher turned blogger. He enjoys writing on a variety of topics but business, technology, and digital marketing topics are his favorite. When he isn’t writing you can find him traveling, hiking, or getting into the latest tech.