The exectutives of the shop I've been managing for a year have refused a different coffee than dillanos since I've started. However, recently showing them how much money we could make and save by roasting our own in store has changed their minds. They've left it up to me to find the roaster and source of beans. I want to go direct trade with farms so we skip the political fair trade issue and give more money back to the farmers. Does anyone have ANY suggestions for me or resources?!

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Comment by Mitch McMullen on March 21, 2009 at 6:17am
Sarah - JUST DO IT! take it from me, a former professional basketball player, I started a coffeehouse in 1993 (same year charbucks went public) - and I then evolved it into a coffee roasting business. well, I didn't know how to roast either! but I learned and my coffee is beating those major brands in little stores like, ghee, I don't know, Costco, WalMart, Albertsons, Ralphs, and we are bringing the mass merch world fresh roasted coffee. oh, the coffee is great too. you see... starbucks, and all the big brands have crap coffee so if you buy good green, roast in small batches and deliver fresh.... NO ONE can beat you! your customers will drive the extra mile for you locally roasted coffee.... do it! dream it! don't let doubters and over-thinkers bring you down! as far as the chemical aspects of the roasting process.... the average soccer mom who you will attract, does not care about all that, they just care about.. HOW DOES IT TASTE! and good green, roasted in small batches (correctly) and fresh is a winning combo that has worked well for me out here in SoCal. The World needs better coffee, so thank you for wanting to bring fresh roasted coffee into our world!
Comment by Banks Thomas on March 20, 2009 at 2:31pm
It sounds like you have made up your mind, good luck to you.
Comment by Sarah Leanne Barnett on March 20, 2009 at 11:06am
Torrefattore Roasters have been my contact thus far. They have small commercial equiptment that is manual, automatic, or semi automatic (semi automatic is the one that I would prefer being that most of the small-shop-roasting quality downgrade from my research comes from automatic roasters not cooling the beans properly and scorching them). The one that I'm most interested in can produce about 60 lbs per workday. On average we run 80-120lbs per week just from brewing and espresso, and about 20 more lbs in retail. The roasters can be financed for $100-$200/month and the company will give us the full run down on how to roast correctly. I have a good friend in close contact who's helping me research the natural compounds of the bean that causes a beautiful roast. She has a masters in Organic Chemistry and very passionate. I'm learning right now about Sucrose/Caramelization, Cell wall destruction, and acid formations/depeletion. Even though I've never roasted on these machines, I'll be damned if I don't do everything I can to do an amazing job! With the help of my close friend and resources with the roaster distributor, I feel that I have a good leg up on the beginnings of this endeavor. As far as direct trade goes- yes yes yes. Toooo much involved for me. The best resource I can find online for sustainble green coffee environmentally and socially is Cafe Imports, which can ship split orders on a palate of 300lbs, 50lbs of each different origin. They pay well above Fair Trade and go beyond the political war of the policies involved with that. They also do carry Fair Trade, organic, and regularly check on the farms to make sure that they have the best technology to uphold excellent standards. If the shipment they have is exceptionally good, they pay a bonus to the farm. Both Torrefattore and Cafe Imports will have a booth set up at the SCAA Atlanta this year, so I suppose the executives and I will set up a concrete plan when we talk with them. Pack Plus is my best resource so far for packaging, I also need a few other companies to compare/contrast. As soon as I can come up with a business model for roasting our coffee and selling it beyond the store, which of course will take a fiscal quarter or two to truly take off once we're roasting for the shop, the executives are fully willing to support this idea.
With all of this being said...
any other encouragement/ attempts to dissuade me from doing this?

I appreciate having this website to give me outside opinions that are backed up with experience. Although these are tough comments to make about the probable failure in view of shop demographics and history, I'm a passiontely bold woman who loves coffee. I've got a hell of a drive. Tell me what you think in honesty and I'll appreciate it.
Comment by Matt Milletto on March 19, 2009 at 2:41pm
Also, do your executives have a budget for everything it will take to roast your own? How much coffee do you go thru per month? Banks is right, how will you educate yourself to roast your own coffee and provide a quality consistent product.

Roasting is a whole new animal ... best of luck, but be smart and careful about each choice.
Comment by Banks Thomas on March 19, 2009 at 12:14pm
I don't want to sound like a smart ass, but do you know how to roast? I have seen may shops do the same thing that you are doing, but they don't know how to roast and the quality suffers.
My second question would be, how do you plan to do direct trade with farmers? I'm not going to say it's impossible, but it would be very hard and expensive to have a shop buying direct from origin. You just don't nearly have the volume to make that work.
I know this is not what you have to hear, but I'm really just trying to help.
Comment by Eyal Rosen on March 18, 2009 at 11:57am
Hi Sarah,

A friend of mine owns this company (Coffee-Tech Engineering) that specializes in micro-roasters for coffee shops. Feel free to ping them. They have excellent products.

Good luck.

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