What are some good questions that people should ask coffee roasters when interviewing and sampling coffee? Thinking especially about someone who is opening a new coffee shop — what are the things they should ask, and do, to determine that they are making a good choice in a coffee roaster.

Also, what can a coffee shop expect from a good coffee roaster during both the sales process, and post sale? Besides simply supplying coffee beans, what other services should a good roaster provide?

How should coffee shops store their beans in their shop? Can a coffee shop expect to have an exclusive on their roast profile / blend? Should a coffee shop owner be expected to provide only one type of coffee roaster’s coffee beans, or can a single coffee shop sell beans from multiple coffee roasters?

Arizona Coffee

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  1. Steve Kessler

    Great article Chris.

  2. I think willingness to work with a shop on a custom blend, a customized program, or even a custom roast profile specific to that shop are definite pluses, possibly even a must.

    I think that education in handling of the beans is absolutely vital. It’s in the best interest for all involved. the shop will be representing the roaster’s coffee. The shop will see success with proper materials and training, and success means more business for both parties.

    I think accessibility is pretty important. How well you know your coffee is directly linked to how well you know your roaster, and how well they know their own coffee.

    I think that a drive for quality and constant improvement is important, but that’s not just specific to this topic alone.

    Naturally, most small roasters will do whatever they can to ensure the success of their clients because their clients’ success will mean better business for the roaster.

    It’s a give-take sort of thing. If a roaster doesn’t care for quality, it will be fairly evident in the training that MOST roasters provide, and should be an indicator of the future of the relationship.

    Just my $.02.

  3. Hi Chris

    I kind of have a different take on this which unfortunately means that as a roaster I dont pick up lots of customers, but will pick up the right kind. We wont provide any other service apart from roast there coffee, and offer advice on preparation storage and all the normal things.

    We will recommend trainers, we will recommend machine people we will select specialists in there field that are far better qualified. I’m a coffee guy and that’s all I’m good at, there are others who are better at what they do.

    When I go to my local butcher I don’t expect him to supply me with an oven to cook my chicken, the seasoning and the plates to serve it on, so why do we expect so much from a coffee roaster?

  4. I’m in agreement with Stephen on this. I don’t offer syrups, powders, teas or paper goods but have developed relationships with certain companies that provide allied products and we will make recommendations based on quality of service and product.

    We do provide training in the areas of coffee storage and handling, coffee and espresso preparation and some light equipment maintenance. In those areas we are very thorough. Also I encourage my customers to attend our cupping sessions and take advantage of the educational benefits these sessions can provide.

    We understand we are only as succesful as our clients and work closely with them to help to insure success, after all it’s a relationship.