How to Become a Professional Coffee Roaster
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A large percentage of Americans start every single day with at least one cup of coffee, making coffee big business in the United States and abroad. But before coffee can be ground up for use in the home coffee pot, the beans must be expertly roasted to bring out flavor. People passionate about coffee and looking to change careers, may be interested in learning more about becoming a professional coffee roaster.
Invest in a professional grade coffee roaster. Whether or not you receive on the job training, enroll in coursework, or you learn the process through self-taught mechanisms, a professional coffee roaster will allow a personal hands-on experience. Many small batch coffee roasters use a 25-pound roaster. Purchase a new machine, or one that has been seasoned and reconditioned. Coffee roasters can be found at restaurant supply companies, at online auctions or purchased directly from manufacturers and vary in price range starting at $149.
Enroll in a school or certification program. There are many coffee roasting courses available for training. These programs vary in prices from $650 to $1175 and upwards depending on the level and length of the course.
Apply for on-the-job training. Many specialty coffee roasting companies provide on the job training for coffee roasters. Find job openings by using the search term, "coffee roaster job training."
Practice at home. Many professional coffee roasters are self-taught and then find work in the field or start a specialty coffee roasting business. Coffee roasting is not difficult, but does require skill and attention. Insert beans into the hopper compartment above the roaster. When the roaster reaches an ideal temperature for heating the beans (often around 200 to 225 degrees Fahrenheit), the beans are dumped into the rotating roaster. Check the bean's progress as they roast. Pull out the tray to collect a small sample. Confirm the beans are roasted to the desired darkness (the amount of time depends on the particular roast), remove the beans to a cooling tray. After the beans cool, grind for coffee.
Start a specialty coffee roasting business. Offer local cafes, restaurants and bakeries free samples of roasted beans. If these businesses enjoy the beans, offer to sell roasted beans by the pound.
Cultivate relationships with coffee bean wholesalers. This will aid in purchasing the best beans possible (usually Arabica coffee beans) in order to produce the most flavorful coffees. Bean wholesalers are found through local listing searches or via an Internet search.
Experiment with beans from different parts of the globe. Beans have different flavor profiles, so try beans from different sources to experience the unique taste of each region. Alternatively, purchase beans directly from coffee plantations, although this may involve global travel to meet and develop relationships with these growers.
Create flavored coffees. Many coffee roasters produce flavored coffees in addition to regular offerings. Popular flavors might include vanilla, hazelnut, praline or caramel cookie. Purchase flavorings from a food retailer or wholesaler or create proprietary flavoring blends using natural ingredients.
Taste-test the coffee. Taste the coffee beans after roasting and prepare tasting samples for friends, family and colleagues to get feedback on the product.
Tucker Cummings is a freelance writer based in New England. She holds two Bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of New Hampshire and is a member of the Association of Professional Business Writers. Cummings is also a food writer and curates the blog, Brave New Breakfast.