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What Is a Coffee Roastery?

By Susan Grindstaff
Updated May 16, 2024
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A coffee roastery refers to a business or enterprise where green coffee beans are roasted. In many cases, roasteries are very small scale, located within a restaurant, coffee bar, or even the home. Large coffee manufacturers have roasting facilities that are very large, able to generate tons of coffee in a very short amount of time. Regardless of the size, the methodology for roasting coffee beans is similar.

Probably the most important tool within a coffee roastery is the roaster itself. These machines are designed to take the green coffee beans through the various stages of roasting, until they are ready to be packaged or ground. Both home use and commercial grade roasters operate on a system that allows the coffee beans to be in constant motion while they are being heated. This perpetual motion is typically accomplished by forced air or tumbling.

The first step in the roasting process is probably the slowest. The green coffee beans are allowed to dry within the roaster until they turn a light yellow color. Most experts agree that the more slowly this is done, the more flavor the roasted bean will eventually have. After the beans have reached the yellow stage, the heat inside the roaster can be increased and the beans may be roasted to the desired depth of color.

There was a time when the term “coffee roastery” applied almost exclusively to large commercial coffee manufacturers, and restaurants or groceries that offered on-site roasting were quite rare. Almost all coffee consumed was shipped pre-ground from Columbia or Peru. Eventually, consumers began to demand fresher taste, and grocers began to offer roasted beans and grinders on site. This was an improvement, but since the beans were roasted days or even weeks prior to grinding, they still lacked the flavor of a fresh roasted bean. This ever increasing demand for flavor opened the door for the localized coffee roastery.

A local coffee roastery typically operates very much like a small café. In addition to offering coffee that is roasted on the premises, these operations often serve pastries and sandwiches. Fresh brewed coffee is served in a variety of roasts and flavors. Customers can also purchase coffee beans by the pound, either ground or whole.

Coffee consumption throughout the world began to explode during the 1980s. It is reported that during 2010, coffee shops represented the fastest growing trend within the restaurant industry, and the most successful of these shops offered on-site roasting of coffee beans. Nowhere is the popularity of the coffee roastery more evident than in the United States, where statistics indicate the population consumes in excess of 399 million servings of coffee each day.

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