My apologies if this has been requested before, however, we are considering opening up a coffee house in our home town in Eastern GA. I am amazed at the volume of information available on coffee roasters. We are trying to find the right roaster that can help us to achieve our dream!

The criteria that we are using to choose our roater are:
Good Overall Business Partner - Sales, Service, Equipment, Products
Sells great quality in the major lines of products, coffees, teas, etc.
Coaches us in how to run a shop that can make money while not sacrificing quality.

Can you list some other criteria as well as some 'opinions' on the various roasters. I am not looking to criticize a roaster, only to partner with the right ones.

Thank you for your time!

Thom

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Hi Thom,

Not sure I've run across this discussion here recently, so you should be in the clear :).

I think you've hit the major points, though perhaps putting too many things on your potential roaster's plate. I agree that your roaster should partner with you to help your store succeed, providing training and consulting. It would be convenient if they did other stuff too, like sold syrups, teas, equipment, and provided service, but...

Primarily, you need them to roast good coffee. A good selection, roasted in a style that you like (its your store, right?), organic and fair or direct trade if you are so inclined. Coffees from each roaster will taste different... not just blends, but single-origin as well. Find one that seems to like the same things that you do and you'll enjoy your coffee more. In the Southeast, I like the offerings from Dilworth in Charlotte and Counter Culture in Durham. They both also offer the training, operations, and equipment support that I referred to.

There are lots of good suppliers of teas, syrups, paper products, equipment, service, etc. Suppliers that you can do business with when it makes sense and replace if things go wrong. After a few false starts, we now work with Everything Coffee and Tea (a bX partner) and been really happy with them. I've also bought cups from Reliable Paper - an online distributor that is both reasonable and crazy fast shipping orders. Both are in Georgia, if I'm not mistaken.

Yes, roasters have gotten into the business of being one-stop shops, for a variety of reasons... but the bottom line to me is that they must do a good job roasting coffee at the quality level you seek. Everything else can be done well by someone else... so it doesn't make sense to me to prioritize anything else when considering a roaster.

Good luck.
I would say that Brady has just about covered all bases. Perhaps the biggest thing, as he has touched on, is selecting a quality specialty roaster close to you. Proximity in these times of hispeed communication and delivery systems should not be an issue. However the reality is a roaster based in your neighbourhood (city, county or state) should have a good undertstanding of your issues, your requirements and specific intricacies of your market. I would always suggest when comparing beans to beans then why not start close to home first.
Thanks Brady!

Great points!

Brady said:
Hi Thom,

Not sure I've run across this discussion here recently, so you should be in the clear :).

I think you've hit the major points, though perhaps putting too many things on your potential roaster's plate. I agree that your roaster should partner with you to help your store succeed, providing training and consulting. It would be convenient if they did other stuff too, like sold syrups, teas, equipment, and provided service, but...

Primarily, you need them to roast good coffee. A good selection, roasted in a style that you like (its your store, right?), organic and fair or direct trade if you are so inclined. Coffees from each roaster will taste different... not just blends, but single-origin as well. Find one that seems to like the same things that you do and you'll enjoy your coffee more. In the Southeast, I like the offerings from Dilworth in Charlotte and Counter Culture in Durham. They both also offer the training, operations, and equipment support that I referred to.

There are lots of good suppliers of teas, syrups, paper products, equipment, service, etc. Suppliers that you can do business with when it makes sense and replace if things go wrong. After a few false starts, we now work with Everything Coffee and Tea (a bX partner) and been really happy with them. I've also bought cups from Reliable Paper - an online distributor that is both reasonable and crazy fast shipping orders. Both are in Georgia, if I'm not mistaken.

Yes, roasters have gotten into the business of being one-stop shops, for a variety of reasons... but the bottom line to me is that they must do a good job roasting coffee at the quality level you seek. Everything else can be done well by someone else... so it doesn't make sense to me to prioritize anything else when considering a roaster.

Good luck.
Thanks Alun!

Another good point geography. We are not close to the urban market, so service and delivery is a big factor.


Alun Evans said:
I would say that Brady has just about covered all bases. Perhaps the biggest thing, as he has touched on, is selecting a quality specialty roaster close to you. Proximity in these times of hispeed communication and delivery systems should not be an issue. However the reality is a roaster based in your neighbourhood (city, county or state) should have a good undertstanding of your issues, your requirements and specific intricacies of your market. I would always suggest when comparing beans to beans then why not start close to home first.
Glad you found it helpful.

I should mention that even though we are only 20 minutes from our roaster, we still receive our coffee via Fedex. They offer very reasonable terms for their larger orders, so it works great for us. That means that even though we are closer to our roaster than you'd be to yours, your coffee will arrive at around the same time (next day) assuming you pick a roaster in the same delivery zone. Alun's point is a good one, though... more local is better. Sometimes you forget to order something or unexpectedly sell 5 lbs of Bolivian and its nice to be able to pop over to pick up a bag or two.

Good luck!
Thom, there are many factors as has been stated. We just went through the entire process and I would be glad to share all my information with you concerning roasters, equipment, ancillary materials etc. Contact me and I will send it to you.
Excellent, thank you for the kind offer.

I can be reached at nagrommoth@yahoo.com.

If appropriate, can I give you a call to discuss this as well?

Regards, Thom

Doug Sawyer said:
Thom, there are many factors as has been stated. We just went through the entire process and I would be glad to share all my information with you concerning roasters, equipment, ancillary materials etc. Contact me and I will send it to you.
Doug Sawyer said:
Thom, there are many factors as has been stated. We just went through the entire process and I would be glad to share all my information with you concerning roasters, equipment, ancillary materials etc. Contact me and I will send it to you.

Doug, considering that this has been a larger group discussion, would you be willing to share your information with the rest of us?
From the roaster's point of view: we've always considered coffee our number one product - but you're original post exemplifies why most large roasters have begun offering allied services, equipment, etc. Often, particularly with start-ups, the roaster is the first stop for owners. With the multitude of responsibilities on the plate of a small business owner, at least having the option of getting things besides coffee from the one source can be helpful.

That being said, roasters shouldn't be trying to push those items on you. Often you'll find equipment is vastly cheaper when purchased through your chosen roaster because it's not (or shouldn't) be where they make their money - just make sure that it's still the quality equipment that you really want.

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