Roasting as a side-business - Advice needed - Page 2

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

Postby happycat » Nov 25, 2018, 9:18 pm

You can PM user Almico who built up a roasting business.

There are other threads about roasting. Just put "roasting business" into the search here on HB

You can PM people who were trying it.

Teaching is another option for writers for an income
LMWDP #603

bicktrav

Postby bicktrav » replying to happycat » Nov 25, 2018, 9:59 pm

Got it. Thanks! Teaching is mostly a full time gig. I'm not looking for that. I just love roasting and, since I do it anyway, figure I may as well make a few bucks out of it. It wouldn't be a primary source of income.

Mbb

Postby Mbb » Nov 26, 2018, 6:05 am

First thing is to check your state laws, before you even start dreaming.

If you need a commercial kitchen you are dead in water.

I have a coworker doing it, after he retired
His commercial space rent is $2300/mo.
Its quite a bit of coffee to just break even one day
Takes building a real business from ground up

bicktrav

Postby bicktrav » replying to Mbb » Nov 26, 2018, 11:28 am

Yeah, 2300/month is insane. I have no interest in renting a commercial space. I live in California. We have a cottage food law here, which allows for the production/sale of certain homemade goods - coffee is among them.

Nunas

Postby Nunas » Nov 26, 2018, 12:26 pm

Perhaps an obvious question, but have you done the math? Some years ago I looked into the same thing. I did the math and concluded that I would need to spend an inordinate amount of time not just roasting, but also promoting. That, together with the opportunity cost had me working for about $5 an hour unless I got really big and successful. IOW, as a part time gig it just did not make sense for me. Also, I like roasting for myself, but wonder if the bloom would fade from the rose rather quickly if I suddenly had to do it to meet deadlines for orders. I definitely would not like dealing with any unsatisfied customers (I've had some retail experience here as an electronics repair person).

bicktrav

Postby bicktrav » Nov 26, 2018, 12:52 pm

Nunas wrote:Perhaps an obvious question, but have you done the math? Some years ago I looked into the same thing. I did the math and concluded that I would need to spend an inordinate amount of time not just roasting, but also promoting. That, together with the opportunity cost had me working for about $5 an hour unless I got really big and successful. IOW, as a part-time gig it just did not make sense for me. Also, I like roasting for myself, but wonder if the bloom would fade from the rose rather quickly if I suddenly had to do it to meet deadlines for orders. I definitely would not like dealing with any unsatisfied customers (I've had some retail experience here as an electronics repair person).


I've done some rough math. Given that I'd be roasting out of my house (no overhead), the profits should be higher than $5/hour. I have been thinking the best way to start is with a simple listserve: send a weekly email to family/friends telling them what I'm roasting and asking whether anyone wants some. If I don't get bites, I don't devote any time beyond roasting for myself. Initially, sales would be low, but if they liked it and the price point was attractive, the hope is they would buy again, tell friends and so forth. I would not begin with an all-out sales push; I don't have the time or expertise, but I could see doing that if the endeavor began to pick up steam. I also wouldn't try to get wholesale accounts unless things really took off. I have no interest in the deadlines that accompany cafe orders (I have enough time crunches in my main job). I guess it's a bit of an experiment. It may fail, but if I make enough to cover the cost of a quality roaster, I would be happy. If I make more, great... I'll take the family on vacation. That's my thinking, at least.

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johnny4lsu

Postby johnny4lsu » Nov 26, 2018, 12:54 pm

In my opinion, you have little to lose. I went against the grain of a lot of advice here and it worked out just fine. Here's the deal, if you aren't starting it to survive then the pressure is off. You have a career. This would be supplemental and not primary.

Mbb

Postby Mbb » Nov 26, 2018, 2:07 pm

bicktrav wrote:I've done some rough math. Given that I'd be roasting out of my house (no overhead), the profits should be higher than $5/hour. I have been thinking the best way to start is with a simple listserve: send a weekly email to family/friends telling them what I'm roasting and asking whether anyone wants some. If I don't get bites, I don't devote any time beyond roasting for myself. Initially, sales would be low, but if they liked it and the price point was attractive, the hope is they would buy again, tell friends and so forth. I would not begin with an all-out sales push; I don't have the time or expertise, but I could see doing that if the endeavor began to pick up steam. I also wouldn't try to get wholesale accounts unless things really took off. I have no interest in the deadlines that accompany cafe orders (I have enough time crunches in my main job). I guess it's a bit of an experiment. It may fail, but if I make enough to cover the cost of a quality roaster, I would be happy. If I make more, great... I'll take the family on vacation. That's my thinking, at least.


Just dont discount that people expect you to deliver to them . Takes time.

blkswn

Postby blkswn » Nov 27, 2018, 1:48 pm

I'm based around LA as well and sell beans on the side just to cover my roasting hobby. It's not a full fledged business by any means and it's only pocket change for me as I view it as a learning experience, but here are a couple things I've learned. Maybe others can chime in on this too. Would love to hear about any other tidbits and insights any other California-based roasters have picked up along the way!

-For me it's been all word of mouth for any sales.
-Shipping and packaging can totally kill your margins. Flat Rate usps has been my best bet so far.
-Hidden costs: I needed a better grinder (EK43) to be able to taste all the nuances in my roast for QC. Then, a Titus alignment tool for better burr alignment. etc
-Certain beans are more time consuming and can throw off your roasting schedule if you're not scheduling out your batches and temperatures properly. This is probably not a big issue for most people unless you have a tight time schedule like I usually do.
-Unless you're able to get wholesale pricing, your COGS will be ~40% higher.
-Advice: set a margin rate and stick to it.
-Coffee wholesale kills margins but Retail price elasticity is extremely high. i.e. You have to compete either on price or quantity.
-Some local suppliers don't have the best supplies so you'll have to account for shipping and/or storage costs for your greens.
-Cottage food laws aren't the most desirable for retail packaging and from what I understand there are roaster size limits for emissions regulations. Aka might need an afterburner > 2.5kg (can someone please verify this?)
-Incorporation costs for liability is another issue

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Almico

Postby Almico » Nov 27, 2018, 8:32 pm

A hobby is a hobby, not a business. A business is a business, not a hobby. There really is no such thing as a hobby-business.

Some things you need to know: Can you run a business from your home? Can you roast coffee there? What are the limits to the cottage laws? Do you need liability insurance?

The first thing home roasters think about when entertaining the thought of transitioning from hobby to business is buying a new roaster. In reality, that is the last step in the process.

If you are serious about starting a business (part or full time), the first step, and no one wants to hear this (including me), is to write a business plan. There are two types of business plans: the big one is when you are seeking funding from a lending institution, but the one you need now is to flesh out all the details of how you think this business will work.
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