With the average American spending $2,000 a year on coffee alone, there’s no reason not to get into this lucrative business. If you’re trying to win over the single-cup or freeze-dried market, you’re going to have a challenge. But if you’re interested in starting a coffee roasting business targeting coffee lovers, you’ll find an emphatic market ready to be unlocked.
Here are six tips for starting your business.
1. Learn the Business
It’s vital for you to know how the coffee roasting business is done from an expert. Even if you’re passionate about coffee, you need to understand the challenges that could face you.
Roasting coffee is a complex affair. Some may call it an art. Knowing roast profiles, what’s hot in the market, and what trends are on their way out is very important.
Everyone on your staff, from C-level executives and investors on down should take a roasting training together. This means that everyone will be speaking the same language and have tangible product knowledge. Some people know all about marketing and investing in a business but without knowledge of your actual product, they’ll always be playing catch-up.
Control over your beans gives you control over your business.
2. Buy Equipment to Meet Your Goals
While starting small might be useful in some industries, it can bury you in the coffee roasting industry. You could be dead in the water before you even gas up your engine.
Set a goal of how much you want to roast every week. If your real business goals will have you needing to roast 15kg at a time, then you need to get a roaster that can handle it. Starting with a 1kg roaster will only have you burning out your equipment too quickly.
While you can always put a small roaster to use, you need to have the kind of equipment to handle the volume you want to have. Make your first investments in your business’s future via your roaster.
3. Find a Few Test Customers First
If you want to hit the ground running, find a few small coffee bars and offer them some exclusive deals. This ensures you have some immediate sales as soon as you start roasting. You can work with these first bars to get feedback and start building a strong reputation.
Following that, open an online shop. Sell your beans in those shops exclusively before you open up your own shop. Once you’ve built some presence, open up a public roastery with a coffee shop to sell your beans directly to consumers.
Giving everyone a place to taste your latest creations can draw customers and attract loyalists. Building a customer base is important in the coffee industry. If people know they can always get a quality product from you, they’ll be loyal for years to come.
4. Transparency Matters
There are two tiers of coffee drinkers. There are those who don’t care and go for the price and others who want a quality product every morning. They’ll care less about price and more about how dependable your products are.
Tell your customers when you’re paying more to suppliers to give them fair wages. Let them know if you’re using sustainable methods for some coffees. And if you make a mistake, be open and honest.
Everyone loves an underdog and a new company that is really trying to make a name for themselves is going to hit some hurdles. The best thing you can do to win the trust of your customers is to have a social media profile where you offer constant updates about products and services.
5. Avoid Debt
Many small businesses get into trouble before they open their doors because they get into debt. Debt is the best way to bury your business before you have a chance to succeed. Start by roasting for someone else if you have to, but avoid going into debt.
You’ll have ups and downs but the best way to weather them is to be able to use your company’s own money to get out of debt. Pay in cash when possible rather than putting things on a company card.
Raising money is important at first and you’ll need some help to follow your dreams. Start by offering equity or taking out short term loans that will get you through that first year. However, make sure you’re building the capital you need to thrive on your own.
Cut unnecessary costs, expensive packaging, and expensive marketing efforts until you can afford them. When choosing a supplier, find one who is willing to work at your volume and who can scale as needed rather than one who is just trying to make a buck.
6. Watch the Competition
While you might have started your path by doing market research, you need to keep a constant watch on your competitors. In almost every market, you’ll be surrounded by other roasters who are vying for your customers.
If you see your competition moving into relationships with craft brewers, try that yourself. If they’re offering cool new swag, work to outdo them.
Also, be critical of yourself. If you start to succeed, watch which moves your competition doesn’t try to rip off. You’ll know that you might be pursuing a challenging path when no one is nipping at your heels.
Starting a Coffee Roasting Business Should Be Fun
When starting a coffee roasting business, don’t forget to make room for fun. Meeting new and excited customers, designing your logo, and promoting your product should be fun and exciting. Share that feeling with customers and you’ll win lifelong devotees.
Check out this guide for the things that all the best salespeople do to move products.
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