The Roastery Startup Equipment Guide You Need

The Roastery Equipment Startup Guide You Need

New Roaster Setting Up Shop? CEPros Has Your Start-Up Equipment Shopping List Covered

By Jamie Cattanach

Opening a roastery of your own is probably the culmination of a years-long process, so if you’re reading this Roastery Startup Equipment Guide, congratulations. Not everyone is so dedicated to bringing their roasting dream to life.

Of course, it takes more than a dream to make decent coffee. You’ll need vision (check!), artistry, a scientific mind, and the right tools for the job. Luckily, on that last front, we’ve got you covered. 

For the purposes of this guide, we’ll assume you’ve already done your homework—and footwork—to get the basics for your space and green bean inventory squared away. (Think: space planning, permits, water treatment.) We also recommend budgeting money for smaller roastery accessories—coffee scoops and buckets, coffee packaging, cupping lab supplies, wet-dry vacuum, etc.

So, with those other start-up factors accounted for, let’s dive into the major equipment must-haves you’ll need to set your roastery up right, right from the start.

1. The Coffee Roaster

This one’s pretty obvious—the word “roast” probably even features in your business name in some capacity. And that’s exactly why choosing a high-quality shop roaster (3kg to 15kg) should be the first item on your to-do list.

But when it comes to picking a “good” coffee roaster, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. While relying on reputable brands with good customer service is always a smart choice, the specific option best suited for you will depend on your business goals, roasting needs, personal preference, and, of course, budget.

Size is one major factor—and one that the footprint of your roasting space may physically limit. Larger roasters may, obviously, take up more space (which could be used for other purposes, like storage) and rack up higher installation costs, but they also offer higher potential output and could potentially reduce labor hours since larger batches can mean less roasting time. 

Some experts suggest choosing a bigger roaster than you think you need, which builds in some room to grow. That said, a small-batch roaster can offer more flexibility to experiment without copious amounts of waste. 

You’ll also need to decide if you’d prefer a gas roaster or an electric roaster. While they’ll both get the job done, they do have significant differences: 

  • Gas roasters excel at speed and flexibility. Think of how a gas stove operates as compared to an electric one—you can finesse the flame with just a flick of your wrist, which may allow for greater experimentation in the roasting process. However, they do require a gas line, which your location may not already have, and they may not offer the same level of consistency and uniformity as an electric or air roaster.

  • Electric roasters are best for those who want very precise control and the ability to get predictable results each and every time they go through the roasting process. Depending on local fuel and utility prices, they may be costlier to operate than gas roasters, but thanks to the lack of gas fumes, they’re also greener and healthier for roastery professionals to be around.


A quick word about sample roasters: You might already have a sample roaster; after all, that’s where a lot of roasters get their start before opening up shop. If you don’t have one, it can be a good idea to add one to your roasting arsenal. They offer a lot of bang for their buck, as they help you evaluate the quality of green coffee beans, experiment with new blends, and refine roasting profiles on a small scale before committing to larger batches. Of course, all of this leads to improved efficiency and customer satisfaction.


NOTE: In addition to a roaster, you’ll need to plan for any related equipment needed, like an afterburner (depending on your roaster type, local laws, and neighbors), ductwork, roast profiling software, and so on.


2. A Portable Destoner

Nobody would argue with the fact that harvesting and processing coffee is hard work. Given its repetitive and monotonous nature, harvesters do a great job of ensuring that what ends up in your bag of beans…is beans.

But at a grand scale, it’s impossible to avoid some level of error. And when the error is a pebble that could damage a client’s grinder (and ruin your reputation as a roaster), it’s important to have some protection by your side. 

That’s where a destoner comes in. As its name suggests, a destoner is designed to find and remove stones and other small, hard, coffee-bean-like objects (that, in fact, are not coffee beans) from your supply. It does so by giving your beans a magic carpet ride of sorts: In a process known as “fluidization,” the destoner floats roasted beans on a current of air that’s not powerful enough to lift denser objects, like stones. 

A portable destoner, in particular, offers the flexibility you need to destone your beans wherever in your shop makes the most sense. It also takes up less room than a classic model. It’s also often available at lower price points, which makes it an accessible (and important) piece of equipment for any roastery startup.



3. Quality Control Equipment

A destoner is one of the most important pieces of quality control equipment—but it’s not the only one you need. Other worthwhile additions include a coffee bean analyzer, which can help you determine the precise level of roast you’ve achieved, and a moisture-density analyzer, which can help you determine how much you should roast a given bean in the first place.


Many moisture-density analyzers will work for green beans as well as cherry and parchment, allowing you to get a high level of detail about the coffee’s potential before it ever hits the roaster. On the other side of the process, a coffee bean analyzer can help ensure you’re giving your customers a consistent experience across batches. After all, every bean is different, so sometimes the same roasting process could lead to subtly different results. A coffee bean analyzer helps mitigate that problem.



4. A Great Shop Coffee Grinder

Sure, you could focus on whole-bean sales to start—but plenty of your potential customers have yet to invest in a coffee grinder of their own, which means they’d skip right over your offerings. And even those who do have their own grinder might not have the high-quality burr grinder it takes to ensure they get the very best taste of your roast in their cup. 


Think of
shop coffee grinders as the all-important “middle man” that transforms your precious roasted beans into just the right grind to extract the aroma and taste best. A great shop coffee grinder is built with speed (without overheating your beans), quantity, quality, and convenience in mind. You’ve also got choices to make: Are you roasting for more espresso/specialty or brewed coffee drinks? There are different shop grinders for that.

So, we suggest you get ahead of the game by investing in a high-capacity shop grinder (or two) right from the beginning. A great grinder can be one of your best investments because it can be as reliable as the days are long. You’ll unlock new audiences and make sure your coffee is experienced exactly how it was intended every time. 


5. Coffee Bean Scales

From weighing out how many green beans are left in a burlap sack to ensuring a precise portion makes its way into each retail bag, commercial coffee bean scales are a must-have for any roaster—and you may even need several. At the very least, one that can handle larger loads and one that offers more precision for smaller amounts might be prudent. There are scales on the market that can measure up to 1,000 pounds and those that max out at two kilograms, so the world is truly your oyster.


Look for a scale that offers precise measurements in small increments, can handle the maximum weight of the coffee beans you typically roast, and is made from sturdy materials that can withstand a busy roastery environment. You'll also want to consider the scale's portability and size. Other nice-to-haves might include a tare function, a timer, calibration options, and a clear, easy-to-read display.



6. A Net-Weigh or Weigh-Fill Machine

It may not be as sexy as roasting coffee, but as a roaster, packaging is a big part of your job—and one that can get old fast, especially as your business scales. A semi-automated or automated weigh-fill machine takes the gruntwork (and guesswork) out of your day, saving your body (or your employees’) as well as ensuring each bag gets a precise and perfectly measured fill. 


You might think this is a piece of equipment that you can purchase later, and you certainly can. After all, this is a
startup guide. But if you have the budget, you can pick up a good option for around $7,000 that will help you introduce efficient, streamlined operations to your shop from the start.



7. A Coffee Bag Sealer

And now, for the finishing touch! Most roasters’ worst nightmare is going through the entire labor of love that is roasting up a perfect batch…only to have it reach your customer’s cabinet stale thanks to an imperfect seal. A coffee bag sealer makes sure that excess air is removed from each bag of beans, prolonging its shelf life, before adding the perfect crimp to keep those beans safely locked inside their airtight sack. Some may even add nitrogen or another gas to the bag to help keep whole beans even fresher.


You can add a good direct-heat or continuous coffee bag sealer to your operations for under $1,000, and you’ve got options. For example, a simple
portable handheld sealer will run around $200, while a foot-operated unit will cost around $600. Tabletop direct-heat sealers and band sealers run between $800 and $1,000. Any of these should suffice for a start-up roasting operation.



So How Much Does This Cost? 

No doubt about it: Opening a small roastery or roastery-retail location requires a significant investment in ancillary roastery equipment beyond your roaster. And just like any big endeavor, start-up costs can vary widely depending on the scale and ambition of your operation. The story behind the numbers in the chart below illustrates just how much choice you have in the equipment you purchase—especially when you consider the quality pre-owned roastery equipment available.

At CEPros, we believe in the “measure twice, cut once” principle. Think carefully from the very start about the equipment you purchase. Decide where you can buy new or used, and consider how all the equipment will “flow” and work together. This up-front effort can yield significant returns in the long run.

And don’t forget: With our competitive financing and bundle-and-save options, we can make the equipment purchasing process more manageable.



Let’s Get You Set Up!

We put together this startup guide to give you a jumping-off point, but we get that sometimes it helps to talk to a real person. If you need additional support in making these important purchasing decisions, please contact us. We’re happy to advise based on your specific needs and even connect you with others we’ve helped set up shop.

Also, if you’re seriously considering quality, pre-owned equipment, make sure to bookmark our used ancillary equipment and used coffee roaster collections. They’re constantly changing based on current inventory. Better yet, subscribe to our mailing list to receive our FIRST LOOK email notifications when hot inventory hits our website!

A well-equipped roastery is like a fresh palette of paint: It gives you everything you need to let your creative mind wander. Of course, instead of a lovely landscape, you’ll be crafting the perfect cup of coffee—which, at least we here at Coffee Equipment Pros would argue, is even better. So, let’s get you set up!

RuffRuff App RuffRuff App by Tsun