Coffee used to be something that people drank to wake themselves up in the morning and get through the work day, but in the last decade or so, it’s really taken off.
Now there are coffee shops all over the place and loads of new companies that are producing high end coffee for use in shops and at home. It’s much like the recent revolution in craft beer and there are so many people out there that are serious about their coffee. The coffee industry has an annual growth rate of around 5.5 percent so it’s definitely worth getting into.
Opening your own coffee shop is one option, but you can also make large profits if you start your own coffee roasting business. If you can create great flavors, you can sell them to local shops or directly to customers that want to use them at home. If you get it right, global expansion is a very real possibility. But before you get too carried away, you need to get your coffee roasting business off the ground and that means beating all of the competition that’s out there. Here are a few great tips to help you get ahead in the coffee roasting industry.
Know Your Coffee
This is so important because coffee is a lot more complex than people realise. There are different beans from different regions that give a different flavour. Then you’ve got to consider the different roasting methods which also have an impact on flavor. Roasting coffee is quite a creative endeavour and it requires a lot of trial and error to get the right flavours. If you don’t know coffee inside out and have a passion for it, you’re not going to get very far. If you don’t like coffee, this isn’t the business for you.
If you do like coffee, you have to start doing your research. Head to all of the local coffee shops and sample all of the different beans that they have to offer. Then get online and find some other roasting companies so you can try all of their products as well. When you’re spending time in coffee shops, take note of which beans are most popular so you can get an idea of what is likely to sell. Do some research into the actual roasting process so you can understand how things like temperature and duration have an impact on the taste. If you don’t know coffee inside out, you’re never going to be able to roast beans that people will love.
As well as doing your own research, it’s worth investing a bit of money in a roasting training course. Roasting coffee is way more complex than people think it is, it’s not just a case of sticking some beans in a roaster and waiting for them to be done. If it was that easy, there would be a coffee roasting company on every corner. If you learn the techniques from an expert, you’ll be able to create a much better product.
Usually, the advice that you get when starting a business is to start small, but that doesn’t always work with coffee roasting. You can buy a small coffee roaster that will do 250g and you might think it’s best to just start with that and buy a bigger one once you get going. But the thing is, if you even manage to get a contract from a cafe, that’s going to be way too small.
You don’t need to go straight in for a 15kg roaster but you should probably look at getting at least a 5kg one and learn about the different types of coffee roaster so you can pick the best one for you. Remember that 250g is only a couple of bags of coffee and if you’ve got a contract with a cafe, they’re again going to want way more than that.
If you’re only roasting on a very small scale, your turnaround is going to be incredibly slow and that will put people off working with you. Think about what your aims are, if you want this business to get big and supply a lot of different coffee shops as well as online customers, you’re going to need the capacity to roast a lot of coffee.
Invest In Packaging
Obviously, the taste of the coffee is the most important thing but people do pay a lot of attention to the packaging. Think of it like the label on a craft beer bottle, people like the aesthetic of the packaging as well as the actual drink itself. So, you need to invest some money into the right packaging and a good graphic designer. Usually, the stand up pouches that you tend to get coffee in are the best because they keep the product fresh and they look stylish. Minimalist designs are very popular with coffee shops because they tend to cater to a younger market. Anything that has a more traditional look is not likely to work that well.
Source Beans Responsibly
Consumers are increasingly concerned with the ethical issues surrounding the products that they buy. They want to be sure that they’re produced in an environmentally responsible way and, particularly when it comes to food, they are concerned about the source and whether the workers in other countries are being treated fairly and paid a reasonable wage. This is one of the biggest challenges that the food and drinks industry faces right now because it means that you can’t just buy the cheapest ingredients out there and you have to be sure that you’re sourcing things ethically.
In some cases, you might have to invest a bit of money in going out to some of the places where you buy your beans from so you can be sure that the working conditions and wages are fair. This also gives you a good marketing opportunity because you can document these trips on your website. Consumers like to see the journey that the product has taken from growing to roasting and all the way up to consumption.
Learn How To Make A Proper Cup Of Coffee
When you’re trying to get your first contracts, you can hold tastings so people can sample the product and see whether they’re interested in selling it in their own coffee shops. But if you can’t prepare the coffee properly, you aren’t doing the product justice and people won’t take you seriously. This is something that people often overlook, but it’s so important that you actually know how to make the perfect cup of coffee so you can showcase your product properly. It may be worth investing in a barista course to help you learn these skills or you can just hire a professional barista to work with you for the tastings.
Consider Opening A Coffee Shop
Hosting a tasting or taking your product around to local coffee shops is a good way to get your first customers, but you could also consider opening a coffee shop of your own. If you can open a small coffee shop that is attached to the roastery, you give yourself another revenue stream to help you fund the roasting side of the business but, more importantly, it’s a great way to market the coffee. If you’ve got customers coming in and they enjoy your coffee, you can sell them a bag there and then or direct them to your website with a full range of products on. You may also get interest from other local coffee shop owners that want to stock your beans. However, it’s important to remember that you will need to cover the overheads and staff costs for the coffee shop so it will require a lot more initial investment. If you can’t realistically afford that, it’s not the best route to go down, otherwise, you will be starting the business with a lot of debt.
Hire Passionate Employees
If you are just starting out with a small roasting business and no coffee shop, you can manage it on your own. You can roast in relatively small batches and handle the sales aspect of the business on your own. But when you start getting clients in, you may have to focus on full-time on the roasting and hire people to handle sales or vice versa. When you’re hiring your staff, it’s important that you find people that have the same passion for coffee that you do. Even if somebody is a great salesperson, they won’t perform well if they don’t know coffee inside out. The same goes for hiring staff to work on roasting, they need to have the same expertise that you do if you’re going to maintain the quality of the product. Ideally, you should be looking for people that have past experience working in the coffee industry in some capacity or at the very least, somebody that has a keen interest in coffee.
If you think that you can just open a roastery and find success off the back of the coffee boom, you’re going to be disappointed. But if you have a genuine passion for coffee and you take the time to learn your craft, you can build a successful business.