As a coffee shop, making the switch from offering wholesale to roasting your own brand of coffee can be a daunting venture.
However, this alternative business model can help maximise freshness and provide coffee shop owners with more control over their products. That said, there are many factors to consider when roasting your own coffee.
These include not only choosing the best roaster for your coffee shop, but finding the best space to roast. Additionally, coffee shop owners will have to undertake the challenges of sourcing green coffee, dealing with roasting waste, and profiling the coffee.
While roasting your own brand of coffee can open additional streams of revenue and increase brand awareness, it requires a great amount of competence and experience.
Read on to learn more about the benefits of roasting your own beans and how to choose the best roaster for your coffee shop.
The pros and cons of roasting in-house
Roasting for your coffee shop gives you the freedom to choose precisely what you offer customers.
By taking the time to talk to your regular customers, you can source and roast coffees that match their needs.
Furthermore, the markup on bringing in green coffee is incredibly appealing – especially when the hospitality industry is looking for additional ways to become more profitable.
Eliminating one step between farmers and consumers can help achieve a better margin for all coffee sold in-house.
That said, the initial investment required to get an efficient roasting programme up and running can be expensive.
Therefore, it is essential that you determine the end goal before taking the leap, as the costs of an adequate roaster, ventilating system, and green coffee stock can quickly add up.
What to consider when choosing a roaster for your coffee shop
When choosing a roaster for your coffee shop, there are several factors to consider.
When establishing the long-term goals of roasting in-house, the capacity of a roaster is essential.
One of the most common mistakes made when setting up a roastery is investing in a roaster that is the wrong size.
Large roasters often appeal to those looking to start a wholesale business, as they can deliver consistently large volumes of roasted coffee. In turn, this reduces the amount of staffing hours needed to complete orders.
Therefore, coffee shop owners should consider the minimum amount that can be roasted in the machine. Using less than half of the roaster’s capacity may lead to inconsistencies in the roast.
For a single coffee shop, investing in a roaster with a capacity over 15kg (33lbs) may be unnecessary. A machine capacity starting at 1kg (2.2lbs) will suffice, but will require additional staff hours if larger volumes of roasted coffee are needed.
Another advantage of roasting smaller batch sizes is the opportunity to offer customers rare or exclusive coffees with a lower risk. Roasting high volumes of high-scoring coffee can be risky, and any mistakes can lead to a loss in profits.
Primarily, gas-powered roasters laid the foundations of the modern roasting process.
However, licensing permits and safety measures must be carefully considered, and these may lead to delays in installation.
Additionally, a growing number of specialty coffee roasters are moving towards more sustainable roasting technology. Many manufacturers are producing electric roasters that substitute fire and gas with halogen bulbs and air.
Low-emission and run entirely on electricity, these roasters stand in stark contrast to the traditional natural-gas-powered machines that produce as much as 90% more carbon per cycle.
Generally, electric roasters can be installed quickly, as they do not need to be attached to local gas mains.
The smell of freshly roasted coffee will entice and excite any customer entering a coffee shop.
That said, working with high-heat machinery and organic materials means that smoke is unavoidable when roasting coffee.
As a result, the exhaust system of a roaster must be set up properly to ensure smoke is extracted. Poorly designed ventilation systems can lead to reduced airflow or blockages, which can affect the quality of your roast and become a fire hazard.
Furthermore, if your roaster reaches temperatures that your venting system can’t properly handle, it could cause the entire system to break down, possibly endangering both staff and customers.
The cost of a roaster will depend on its capacity and how modern the technology is.
It is important to set a budget, as this will help narrow down the search and ensure you are able to afford the investment.
You may also find you need to hire someone with more roasting experience, or invest in upskilling an existing team member. Either way, this represents a cost in some capacity, whether it’s in terms of existing staff time or a new hire.
Altogether, this means that coffee shop owners should look for roasters that can help them save time (and therefore money) in the long term. One of these is the ever-popular profile “auto-replication” feature. On the Stronghold S7 Pro, for example, there is a proprietary profile replication algorithm.
This can record and replicate pre-existing roast profiles, meaning that the same flavours can be produced time and time again without the need for an operator to stand over the roaster.
Roasters can come in all shapes and sizes, so having a suitable space is critical.
The space around the roaster will need to allow for sufficient airflow and staff to move around it safely. Additionally, there will need to be adequate storage space for green coffee, as well as packaging materials.
It is important to note that roasting coffee can be a loud process. Having a roasting space that is too close to seating areas may be intrusive for customers who enjoy a quiet and relaxed atmosphere.
Therefore, you should consider having a separate roasting space away from the main sitting area of the shop to ensure normal business operations are not disrupted.
Staffing and technology
Understanding the staffing costs of roasting coffee is another deciding factor when investing in roasting equipment.
Classic drum roasters will usually require constant supervision when roasting. This means the roaster must fully understand the roasting process in order to create a high-quality product.
Without the right experience, roasts can be inconsistent from batch to batch, and you may see a drastic drop in quality regarding the flavour profile on offer.
That said, many modern roasting machines offer a fully automated workflow. This includes the ability to download roast profiles, as well as built-in quality control features.
Choosing an automated roaster may save you time and the pressure of relying on staff to deliver consistent quality in coffee roasting.
When choosing the best roaster for your coffee shop, it is essential to set a budget and understand your limitations.
Choosing a machine that fits seamlessly into your current space without negatively impacting the surrounding atmosphere will ensure business continues as usual.
Additionally, having fully trained staff who can roast coffee comfortably will help lower the risk of a drop in quality for your customers.
At MTPak, we look to support any size of coffee roaster by offering specialty coffee roasters and coffee shops a range of environmentally friendly packaging that will protect your coffee from light exposure and showcase your commitment to sustainability.
Our multilayer pouches made from rice or kraft paper use PLA laminates to maintain the recyclable and compostable properties of the packaging, while providing additional barriers to oxygen, light, heat, and moisture.