The US coffee shop market was a $45.4 billion industry in 2018.
That’s a lot of beans! If you are interested in coffee, you may have considered starting your own coffee roasting business.
A coffee roasting establishment roasts green coffee beans to various roast levels to later be ground and brewed. Once roasted, a roaster will sell their coffee directly to customers, or through coffee shops, retailers, or grocers. Coffee roasters may find themselves teaching customers how to sip coffee discriminately.
If researching, creating, and marketing your own coffee sounds intriguing, entrepreneurship in the coffee world may be for you.
Here are some research ideas to explore before you begin such a venture.
1. Research Coffee Beans
Many beginning roasters start by creating blends that taste original and fun. While passion and creativity are vital to any new business, your venture will inevitably falter without learning about your product.
Coffee beans come from select regions of the world and are categorized by different origins and varietals. Coffees have different tastes and profiles depending, in part, on which varieties of plants they come from.
Arabica and Canephora (also known as Robusta) are the only two commercially viable species of coffee. While there are hundreds of other coffee species, they do not self-pollinate and are thus unavailable in large enough quantities to commercialize.
Within each species, Arabica and Canephora, are varietals of coffee. Each varietal is unique in flavor profile, as a result of mutations that occur when bred. Desirable characteristics such as acidity, sweetness, or robustness come forward in different coffees in part due to farmers selecting for them as coffee plants are bred.
Factors such as processing, altitude, and weather affect coffee flavor. The weight of a bean is also an important factor, as a denser bean will react to heat differently than a lighter bean.
There are plenty of resources to learn about coffee beans. You can take sensory classes and learn to describe what the different tastes are; these classes offer a chance to learn the vocabulary needed to maneuver throughout the coffee roasting industry. Online courses can teach you more about the industry, or perhaps learn vital information or news in the world of coffee during your delivery runs with an audiobook or a podcast.
You will also learn from the feedback your customers offer, should you seek it. When you choose to perceive any constructive information as an opportunity to grow, you will always create opportunities to improve your brand. Consider how to improve your grinding, extraction, and quality control to elevate your roasts above the competition.
With the advancement of technology through the industry, investing in the right equipment is a necessity for new roasters to maintain consistency in their offerings. Sophisticated roasters need to log temperature curves, analyze the roast color, and measure the losses in moisture.
2. Research Coffee Roasters
Coffee roasters come in a variety of sizes, and selecting your first one comes with challenges. For example, while a new roaster will need to balance a modest budget, purchasing an insufficiently sized roaster allows for demand to outpace supply.
Small commercial coffee roasters are available for around $3,000. Higher-end models can go as high as $58,000.
As your business grows, consider larger roasters with innovative features. High-quality roasters limit contact between the machine’s drum and the coffee beans to prevent unevenness in the roast. Roasters made with copper and steel are favorable for their respective conduction qualities.
To begin your business, favor a coffee roaster that fits on a countertop and is easy to clean.
3. Market Your Brand
When you start a coffee business, you are no longer brewing for yourself. Ideally, you can get a few contracts before beginning.
Consider marketing yourself online to establish a customer base. Your branding and product need to stand out.
Research your competition to learn what they offer their customers. If most of the roasters in your area are selling expensive blends, for example, consider creating and branding economical alternatives. If most of them are brewing light coffee, offer something deep and rich.
Once you earn regular customers, consider customizing blends unique to their business. Brand strategies improve with not only favorable products, but also such a unique service.
Digitally market your brand through social media, organic search results, and Google Adwords. This arena evolves quickly and constantly, so there are frequently new opportunities for new brands to stand out.
Join community groups and group chats. Let everyone know when you are offering discounts or specials.
One marketing tactic that works is to open a “public” roastery within a coffee shop. The shop creates an immediate point of sale for new customers to build loyalty with your brand, as you welcome them into your doors with wondrous aromas.
A coffee shop with a roastery is a place people can sample offerings largely unavailable elsewhere. This does not need to be a big space, as intimacy can be a selling point. By offering such a unique experience, customers even leave happy without being offered a seat.
Purchase international coffee beans to offer your customers sophistication and variety unmatched by your competition.
4. Avoid Debt
Raise capital from different sources before starting your business. Friends and family are your biggest fans and are good people to begin your search for investors.
When you first start out, it may be wise to choose economically-friendly options such as cheap rental spaces and equipment. Use the most basic packaging equipment available to send coffee to customers. Market yourself affordably rather than aggressively.
As your business grows, invest in more expensive equipment to further distinguish your brand.
5. Teach Your Customers To Cup
You are offering a quality cup of coffee, but your customers won’t know this until they become experts, too.
“Cupping” coffee is a process that involves grinding your coffee, smelling the grounds, topping it with hot water, heating spoons, breaking the crust, tasting the coffee, and taking notes. If you skip any of these steps, you will not be able to carefully taste your roast.
Offer free cupping classes at local coffee shops. Give out some free samples and literature about your business. Coffee roasters displaying generosity and a hard-working attitude are rewarded with growing loyalty in their customer base.
Beginning a Coffee Roasting Venture
Your coffee roasting business can be as robust and flavorful as the beverage. With a thoughtful marketing strategy, knowledge of coffees and roasters, and a little creativity, you can have a percolating business in no time.
A successful coffee roasting business is as robust and intricate as the coffee it sells. With an innovative marketing strategy, some homework on beans and equipment, and some creativity, an entrepreneur can carve a niche in our multi-billion dollar industry.
For more information on wholesale green beans, contact us today.