Hello Everyone. I'm new to the boards here. Forgive me if the answers to my questions are posted elsewhere. If they are, it would be great if someone can point me in the right direction.


My wife and I have been toying with the idea of starting up a small roasting operation here in South Carolina. We've been home roasting for a while, but want to see about selling our product at local farmer's markets and to other retail establishments.


My questions are regarding the legalities of starting up a roasting company. I'm familiar with the SC business license process, but know nothing about regulations regarding the production of food products (federal and state). Is there a source that outlines this information? What have your experiences been in roasting legalities?


I plan on only roasting fair trade organic beans, and don't know if I need to get my own fair trade certification and organic certification, or if I'm covered since the beans are coming from fair trade organic farms. And how do I go about getting access to the logos for my packaging?


Also, what are the FDA, USDA etc. regulations on a roasting company? Are you required to have a nutrition label? Do you have to get inspections or file certain forms to be legally allowed to produce a food product? Are there any legal restrictions on producing a food product on residentially zoned property?


I'm looking at building a concrete floor metal building on my land with a small office inside and the rest of the space dedicated to roasting, cupping, packaging and storage. Any insight on what your experiences have been would be very helpful.


Thanks eveyone!

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no offense, but those are a lot of questions, and many of them indicate that you haven't done much research/work yourself to begin to find answers.

Start here: coffee roasters are food producers/processors. We are overseen by the state. Go to your states website to see what you can find out. Emissions are a different matter, and depend on where you are. The EPA could be involved, or not. Again, a roasting business is like any business. You need to check out your town's zoning laws, etc.

Organic certification is a national program (the NOP). the short answer is that you need to be certified in order to sell/label something as organic. Fair Trade certification is a different program overseen by fair trade USA (used to be transfair).

Not trying to be an ass, but a couple of minutes with our friend Google shed a bit of light on these questions for me... including a sad tale about a mouse, Zoka, and some bored low-level Feds.

A nutrition label doesn't seem to be required, at least after looking at the backs of the leftover retail prepacks I have in my kitchen. Exactly zero had this label.

In my town, you need a zoning variance to operate a business out of your home. Took a couple of minutes at the local department of land use. I'd assume the same would be required of a food production facility. Your insurance company might be interested in these plans as well.

Thanks for the input and resources guys. I have been able to find a good bit of information. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't missing anything or breaking any laws I wasn't aware of. It looks like I am allowed to roast from the house, but not using my home kitchen. The only real issue I forsee, is that I would never be allowed to have any employees that didn't live in my house.

This is different for every state, I'm sure. Here in Denver you're required to be to the standards of a licensed kitchen (county health department is where you usually go for this) and have a wholesale and retail (if appropriate) license. For packaging requirements you can usually ask the agent from whom you're getting your wholesale license, these are usually grouped together. You usually do not need a nutritional label (I've never see a company which needed this), just the "Net Weight: xxoz" and the town your business is roasting in. You also need to check on your zoning for air emissions to see if you will need an afterburner. We were lucky in that we did not, I would be very conservative on how much coffee you tell them you are going to roast. If you are roasting over a certain amount per week here in Denver you need an afterburner. Additionally batch size and amount of perceived "smoke" matters. In fact, I would personally refer to this as "vapor" not "smoke".

Anyway, all of this could be irrelevant for your state, and I'm probably forgetting a lot, but hopefully this gives you an idea. The most difficult thing will be getting the commercial kitchen license, plan on spending some money on build out- especially if your location doesn't have plumbing currently!

I roasted out of my house for a while until i found out that, in texas anyway, that if you are manufacturing a food product you cannot even be in a room connected to your house by a door, you must have a 3 compartment sink and a hand washing sink, and everything in your facility must be at least 6 inches off the ground... for a start...

Needless to say i got a different facility.

i actually called the state health department and just drilled the guy with a million questions if that helps. They where extremly helpful.

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