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5 Roasters for Small Business Expansion

19
January 2024
5 Roasters for Small Business Expansion

Expanding a small coffee roasting business brings exciting opportunities, but selecting the right equipment can be daunting.

In this post, we’ll compare five roaster models across key categories to identify the ideal solutions for small businesses looking to increase production volume without compromising on quality or breaking the bank.

You’ll see a detailed analysis of entry-level, mid-range, and advanced roaster features and specifications – from precision control panels and hopper capacity to installation complexity and overall value. With this comprehensive guide, you’ll confidently choose the roaster that aligns with your growth goals and budget needs.

Introduction to Roasting Expansion for Small Businesses

As a small coffee business looking to expand operations, upgrading your roasting capabilities is a crucial step. Selecting the right roaster to meet your production needs while maintaining quality can be challenging. This article provides an overview of key considerations when exploring your equipment options.

Understanding Growth Stages and Roaster Needs

When upgrading roasters, it’s important to evaluate your current and projected production volumes. As you reach key business milestones, your capacity and feature needs change.

Startups – Under 50 lbs per week. Basic 1-3 kg shop roasters allow experimenting with smaller batches while minimizing upfront costs.

Established – 50-150 lbs per week. Larger 5-10 kg shop roasters balance higher outputs with affordable pricing.

Scaling – 150-300 lbs+. Commercial 10-30 kg roasters become necessary to supply growing accounts while controlling per-pound costs.

Matching your roaster to growth stages ensures you can meet demand without overspending on unused capacity.

Essential Roaster Features for Scaling Up

As production grows, several roaster capabilities become mandatory:

  • Drum speed control – Varying drum speed during roasting is vital for consistency across larger batches.
  • Hopper – Larger bean hoppers reduce labor for back-to-back roasting.
  • Chaff management – Integrated chaff collectors simplify cleaning with high-volume roasting.
  • Installation requirements – Commercial roasters may need gas lines, vents, wiring upgrades, and permits.

Prioritizing these features helps smoothly transition to larger scales. Understanding growth stages and aligning roaster capabilities prepares small businesses for expanding intelligently.

Entry-Level Roaster: Foundational Features and Installation

Compact Design and Hopper Capacity

This 1-3 lb batch roaster has a compact design with a hopper capacity of around 5-10 lbs of green coffee beans. Its small footprint makes it easy to install in tight spaces, while still providing enough input capacity for small batch production. Key technical specifications include:

  • Dimensions: Approx. 18"W x 24"D x 45"H
  • Hopper Capacity: 5-10 lbs
  • Power: 120V, 15 amp electrical

With its space-saving size and adequate hopper capacity, this roaster can support early-stage growth without demanding excessive real estate or green coffee inventory upfront.

Precision Control Panel and Drum Speed

This roaster comes equipped with an easy-to-use control panel, enabling precision command of temperature, airflow dampers, and drum speed. Set target metrics and monitor them in real-time during the roasting process. With precise drum speed control between 0-300 RPM, you can make fine adjustments to develop desired flavor profiles. Consistent heat application supported by exact airflow and drum speed settings ensures batch-to-batch consistency once target profiles are dialed in.

Chaff Fan Integration and Cooling Efficiency

An integrated chaff fan pulls chaff away from the beans as they roast, keeping your workspace clean. The roaster also features an internal cooling tray that rapidly stops the roasting process once finished. Effective cooling control helps lock in desired bean flavors.

Ease of Installation and Gauge Installation

With plug-and-play operation, installation is straightforward. Simply wheel the roaster into place, connect it to power and gas lines, and attach the chaff collector. Optional gauges measuring temperature, pressure, and airflow can also be installed for enhanced process monitoring. Overall, quick and easy set-up enables rapid production readiness.

Assessing Value for New Roasters

Priced around $6,500, this introductory roaster delivers robust functionality for the money. The capacity suits most early-stage coffee companies aiming to establish themselves in specialty coffee markets. When weighing expenses against modest production volumes, the value proposition is quite compelling for small start-ups. The premium features and precision controls equip new roasters with capabilities resembling more expensive industrial models without the towering costs.

Mid-Range Roaster: Balancing Capacity with New Features

Upgraded Capacity and Enhanced Controls

Upgrading to a mid-range 5-10 lb roaster allows small businesses to increase batch size while maintaining a focus on quality. These roasters come with enhanced precision controls for the drum speed and burner temperature compared to entry-level models. This allows roasters to fine-tune the roast profile and achieve consistent results across larger batches. Key upgrades include:

  • Batch size increased to 5-10 lbs to support business growth
  • Digital PID controller for precision temperature control
  • Variable drum speed control for custom roast profiling
  • Programmable roast recipes for repeatability

With these improved controls, roasters can expand capacity while still crafting an artisanal roast.

Hopper Size and Chaff Fan Improvements

Mid-range roasters offer a larger bean hopper, often holding 10-15 lbs of green coffee to support back-to-back roasting. An integrated cooling tray and heavy-duty chaff fan keep the roasting chamber cool for repeated use. Upgrades include:

  • 10-15 lb bean hopper for continuous roasting
  • Enclosed cooling tray to accelerate between batches
  • Industrial chaff fan to maintain cool temps

These allow efficiently roasting multiple batches to keep up with demand.

Installation and Space Considerations

While mid-range roasters have a larger footprint than home models, they can still fit in most commercial settings with proper planning. Most units require a 220V power supply and 4" venting. Recommendations:

  • Dedicate at least 8 ft x 8 ft for the roaster and workspace
  • Install near an exterior wall for venting
  • Have an electrician install a 220V circuit

With some preparation, these units can be integrated into a cafe, roastery or other facility.

Routine Maintenance and Cleaning

To keep a mid-range roaster running in top form:

  • Clean the drum, hopper and tray weekly
  • Brush out trapped chaff around the fan
  • Check belt tension and chains monthly
  • Schedule an annual service for deep cleaning and calibration

Following the manufacturer’s maintenance guide will maximize uptime. Most repairs can be handled in-house as well.

Cost-Effectiveness for Intermediate Roasters

While more expensive than entry-level roasters, mid-range 5-10 lb capacity models deliver faster roast times, automated controls, and integration features – providing major quality and efficiency gains. For small businesses looking to keep up with demand while crafting an exceptional product, these roasters provide solid value.

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Advanced Roaster: Maximizing Growth with High-End Features

For coffee businesses looking to expand production while maintaining exceptional quality, an advanced 10-25 lb roaster offers maximized capacity and precision controls. These high-end machines enable efficient next-level growth through innovative features and infrastructure demands worth the investment.

High-Volume Capacity and Precision Controls

An advanced roaster with a 10-25 lb batch size significantly increases output over lower-tier models. Precisely calibrated temperature and drum speed settings ensure even roasting despite larger volumes. Robust construction withstands prolonged use at capacity.

Innovative Features and Automated Control Panel

Automated features like proprietary bean temperature sensors streamline larger batches. Programmable roast profiles allow consistency across production runs. The automated control panel simplifies workflow coordination. Data tracking provides roast analytics.

Comprehensive Installation and Facility Impact

Expect electrical upgrades for the roaster’s power draw. A commercial venting system suits the machine’s output. Factor in layout and flow changes from a larger footprint. Weight and clearance demands may require floor reinforcement.

Advanced Maintenance Protocols

Increased use requires more frequent interior cleaning and servicing to maintain performance. Establish daily and weekly roaster maintenance routines. Budget for yearly checkups and potential part replacements from wear.

Evaluating Investment for Quality and Volume

The advanced roaster requires significant upfront investment but enables higher volumes without sacrificing quality or consistency. For businesses positioned for expansion, it empowers efficient scaling to meet demand. Carefully weigh financials based on projected growth.

Comparative Analysis of Roaster Models

Provides a detailed features and specifications comparison of 3 top roaster models examined.

Comparing Drum Speed Control and Capacity

The Typhoon 5 Shop Roaster, Typhoon 10 kg Industrial Roaster, and Typhoon 20 kg Industrial Roaster offer varying capacities and control over drum speed.

The 5 kg shop roaster has a maximum batch size of 2.5 kg and offers basic control over drum speed. The 10 kg industrial unit supports batches up to 10 kg with more precision control over drum RPMs through the control panel. Finally, the 20 kg industrial roaster handles batches up to 20 kg and includes proprietary software for granular calibration of drum speed based on roast profile.

This allows coffee roasters to scale up production from small batch craft roasting to higher volume production while maintaining consistency.

Hopper Dimensions and Cooling System Comparison

The hoppers and integrated cooling systems differ across models:

  • Typhoon 5 Shop Roaster: 2 kg hopper, 5 kg/hour cooling tray
  • Typhoon 10 kg Industrial: 10 kg hopper, 10 kg/hour cooling tray
  • Typhoon 20 kg Industrial: 20 kg hopper, 20 kg/hour cooling tray

The larger industrial roasters have bigger hoppers to hold green coffee beans and faster cooling trays to quickly halt the roasting process. This enables higher throughput.

Installation Complexity and Gauge Factors

The shop roasters require standard electrical connections while the industrial roasters need more complex infrastructure:

  • Typhoon 5 Shop: Plugs into 208-240V electrical outlet
  • Typhoon 10 Industrial: Requires gas line hookup and venting
  • Typhoon 20 Industrial: Demands dedicated power line and layout changes

Additionally, the industrial roasters come with integrated data gauges to measure bean temperature, smoke density, and other metrics during roasting. The shop model lacks these sensors.

Automation Features and Control Customization

The industrial roasters include proprietary automation software for customizing roast profiles:

  • Pre-programmed profiles based on bean variety
  • Custom profiling by stage including drying phase and first crack
  • Monitoring and alerts for optimal roasting

The software allows in-depth control over the roasting process for consistency. The shop roaster has basic manual controls.

Investment Analysis: Pricing vs. Production Scale

The industrial roasters carry a higher upfront cost but offer better value for mid-to-large scale production:

  • Typhoon 5 Shop Roaster: $7,000 – optimal for <100 kg/month
  • Typhoon 10 kg Industrial: $15,000 – optimal for 100-500 kg/month
  • Typhoon 20 kg Industrial: $25,000 – optimal for >500 kg/month

The advanced automation and capacity make the industrial models a better value proposition for established coffee roasting businesses.

Final Thoughts: Selecting the Right Roaster for Business Expansion

When looking to expand your coffee roasting production, choosing the right equipment is crucial. Here are some key factors to consider when selecting a roaster:

Intended Production Scale

  • Estimate your target weekly or monthly production capacity in pounds. This will determine what size roaster you need. The Typhoon 2.5 can roast up to 2.5 kg per batch, while the Typhoon 30 kg is suited for large-scale operations.

  • Consider options like the hopper size and whether you need any new features like a chaff fan or drum speed control.

Budget

  • Larger industrial roasters have higher upfront costs but enable higher long-term profit margins from increased output. Weigh your current finances versus long-term goals.

  • Factor in any additional costs like shipping, installation, electrical work, gas line connections, etc. Some vendors offer package deals.

Quality & Consistency Priorities

  • If optimizing taste, aroma, and bean quality is most important, consider fluid bed roasters like Typhoon over traditional drum roasters.

  • Features like precise temperature controls and bean agitation mechanisms directly impact roasting consistency.

  • On-site installation support and responsive customer service also contribute to quality assurance during transition.

By evaluating your business’ unique needs and priorities around production scale, costs, and product quality, you can determine the ideal roasting equipment to facilitate sustainable growth and profitability. Consider trialing models first through Typhoon’s Test Drive program to validate performance. With the right strategic planning, expanding your coffee empire can be smooth sailing.

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