If you are a coffee shop or restaurant considering a new coffee roaster, here are a few questions you might want to ask during the selection process:

  1. Where does the roaster get their coffee from, and how frequently does the roaster receive new coffees?
  2. Does the roaster have an extensive knowledge of coffee?
  3. How often does the roaster roast coffees you desire?
  4. What coffee shops and restaurants does this roaster serve?
  5. Does the roaster indicate on the packaging the date the coffee was roasted?
  6. Ask, “If I order my coffee today, when will I receive it, and when was it roasted?”
  7. Does the roaster flavor any of their coffee and if so, do they use separate equipment to do that?
  8. Does the roaster offer a barista training program?
  9. Is the coffee roaster properly incorporated and does the roaster have the proper food permits?
  10. Does the roaster allow you to private label coffees for sale in your store?
  11. May I have a sample?
  12. What are your wholesale rates?
  13. I um, “lost” my first sample. May I have another?
  14. Do you offer organic, fair-trade, or rainforest alliance coffee?
  15. Do you own and operate your own roasting plant?
  16. Do you roast all of your coffee?
  17. How do you monitor the quality of specialty roasted coffee?
  18. Can I tour your plant when you are roasting?
  19. What packaging options do you offer?
  20. How many samples did they ask to that particular broker before committing to an origin?
  21. Do you regularly conduct coffee cuppings?
  22. What type of technology is used on the roasting and does it involve further analysis after roasting (like Agtron readings, for example)?
  23. Do you have a way to guarantee coffee prices will be stable by hedging on the commodity markets?
  24. Do you belong to any coffee trade organizations?
  25. Can you teach me how to calibrate a brewer and a grinder so my coffee taste its best?

Unfortunately, many people fall into the trap of only exploring one roaster, instead of shopping as many as possible. Be sure to try several coffee roasters!

“Fair trade certified” and “organic certified” are less important than good buying practices and a good relationship with the farmer. Do your research!

Note: The above post is a revised version of a post I did in 2007. Many of the above questions came directly from the comments in that post – so thank you to all of the contributors.

Arizona Coffee

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  1. Steve

    If you offer training, what can I expect, and what classifies your company as training certified?

    Just another question to ask….

  2. amazing help , its helpful because i want to open a coffee shop , these will help me a lot.