Home roasters, not small business owners: Do you sell or give away coffee?

Discuss roast levels and profiles for espresso, equipment for roasting coffee.

#1: Post by Case17 »

I have been home roasting for ~8 years. I never went into this to make money, just to drink good coffee... but like most of us, I eventually considered it. I am not really looking to start any sort of serious small business. My day job is my main focus and I don't really want to detract from that. But, if friends/family wanted to buy from me, then I would do it. I have an Aillio Bullet (1kg) and so I can crank out a fair bit of coffee (for a home roaster; not talking about a full fledged small business here).

Right now, I give away a fair bit of coffee. I regularly give it to parents and parents-in-law, on occasion with extended relatives, and about once a year (Xmas) to coworkers. At one point I was considering selling to family, but when we floated the idea, they didn't want to pay what I thought was a reasonable price ($16/lb). The price is a steal (they love my coffee), but they think all coffee should have a similar price to mass-produced starbucks, so I dropped it. I could have explained the economics of how things work, but didn't want to dig into it with family. Instead, I resigned to simply give it away as an occasional gift. I simply don't have motivation to spend a ton of time roasting if I'm not compensated for it, and especially not if someone thinks it is overpriced due to their lack of familiarity of Starbucks vs small-scale.

Anyways, I'm just curious how people have broached the subject with friends and/or family. I am pretty nervous about making people feel pressured. I'd only want to sell them coffee if they are actually interested.

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#2: Post by Marcelnl »

your story makes sense, I haven't considered selling any but do occasionally give coffee away to folks who I know (or suspect they might) appreciate it.

Why not let it go, if someone likes your coffee and want to pay for it what you think is reasonable they will ask and you get to decide if you want to invest the time for the return.

an afterthought, I also gift coffee to people who I think might like the discovery of fresh roasted coffee....as often few do appreciate it and go find fresh roasted coffee and some like it for as long the batch lasts.
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#3: Post by Beewee »

In my experience, mixing business with family is often times like wading through a minefield. It's one of the quickest way to damage relationships due to the likelihood of misunderstanding and mismatched expectations. It's usually best to avoid it all together if you can.

That being said, I think a fair way to find balance in your situation is to be transparent and show your family what it costs you to roast X amount and rather than charge 'market prices', you can charge them what it costs you (I.e. cost of green beans, maybe a small percentage of the greens to cover energy bills). If they still don't want to help you cover your basic costs, at least you can strike an understanding that you giving away beans is something you're doing as a gift and there should not be expectations of how often or even if you give away beans. Just as there should be no expectations of you filling up their gas tanks on a regular basis out of pocket, the same should be said about giving away beans.

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#4: Post by yakster »

I don't sell any home-roasted coffee and only occasionally give some away. I feel like I would needed to do a lot of due diligence to be able to legally sell my coffee. Some friends have offered to pay, but I've turned down these opportunities. I also don't want to devote the time to being able to supply other's coffee needs on a regular basis.

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#5: Post by mkane »

I give some away, to my youngest & his wife, to a few friends and my wife takes some to work. Special roasts stay home.

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#6: Post by Almico »

It's a pretty good rule of thumb to avoid doing business with friends and family.

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#7: Post by Chert »

Five friends / colleagues take my fresh roast and donate to the Boys and Girls Club each time in exchange. Others throw in a tip on occasion in appreciation for the free espresso I make them. 2-3 times a year I do a popup with my roasted coffee for donations to B & G or a local non-profit theater.

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#8: Post by CarefreeBuzzBuzz »

Hmmm sounds familiar to me.

Let me say this, I think the easiest way for home roasters to make money is doing custom co-branded labels during the holidays. I would like to say check out my webpage, but last time I got reported for a commercial post, so I am not going to say it. I have no interest in selling coffee here so this isn't a commercial post. :lol: Now that I have cleared that up, let me mention that if you are going to do it, then there are things to consider.

Your price is entirely spot on.
You have to make a judgement about how much start up effort you are going to do.
Do you want liability protection - an LLC and insurance is a good thing. Insurance runs me $360 a year.
Do you want to comply with your state's Cottage Food law? You may need to register.
You need to comply with state sales tax laws if applicable.

None of this takes any time once set up. Or you can forget it all and just give away coffee when you want to.
As for family, I roast for our kids when I roast. The rest are happy to have the coffee when they come over.

Hope that helps,
DM me if you want to talk.
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#9: Post by symbology »

I give it away, for now.


#10: Post by Lambretta58 »

I roast for a few friends and my dad.

They cover the cost of the green beans and bag(s). I round up to the next whole dollar. So if a pound costs me 4.25 and a bag is .15 =4.40 I get $5 from them.

My dad, if he picks up my greens he buys what he wants. If I order the beans he gets them for free.

Not trying to be a business, I do this just for fun. It keeps them drinking good coffee and I get to practice.