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First Step Towards Roasting

I really wish I was able to say I'm making leaps and bounds towards having my own coffee shop, but I can't. I think I have finally accepted the fact that this is a dream that may only have a reality in my distant future. Regardless of where it lies in my path, I'm going to hold on to it; because when it does happen, its gonna be freak'n awesome.

I came to that semi-random conclusion as our unceasing discussion of how to begin our company started all over again.

My partner said that he was looking into a coffee cart and believes that it is not a viable business opportunity unless you are a college kid who is willing to sleep on your friends couch and not have insurance. Since we have families and enjoy hot showers, we cannot take that approach.

I brought up some of information from my detailed market surveillance (a.k.a. Twitter). I proposed that we start with roasting our coffee. The traditional model for a coffee shop is to start with whole bean sales. Why? Because the profit margin is phenomenal. Brewed coffee has very little margin (mostly because because shops want to compete with Starbucks rather than price their product according to their model), so shops need the whole bean sales to keep the lights on.

This brought up a few issues. Firstly (as we are prone to jump to extremes), we agreed that we cannot afford a $3,000 to $4,000 roaster and 500lbs of green coffee to start a full blown roasting operation. Then the pendulum swung the other way and we agreed that we cannot roast enough coffee to sell using our air poppers. So what were we to do?

We are left with the only two options we can think of. We can start with our air poppers and make Christmas gifts to give away. Try to get the family and friends interested. Then sell it for a little bit above cost. Hopefully they will share and spread word of mouth. Sell enough to buy a slightly large roaster and continue that process over and over until we can achieve a large roaster. That process will take forever, but will also be debt free and minimal risk to the family. (This is the approach that I favor.)

The second option that we are looking into is renting time on an underutilized roaster. We are trying to find someone who has an air roaster in Arizona, but it doesn't seem to be an option. If the rental fee is low, we can do large scale roasting with some small risk, mainly in the purchasing of the green beans and overhead cost of rental.

If anyone has any suggestions or recommendations, please post in the comments. I would love to hear some ideas.

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