The Trials of a Micro Roaster

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Before we started Tap Dancers Specialty Coffee, we wrote our business plan, vision statement and mission statement. These documents have been the foundation to all our decisions concerning the business. Whenever we consider an idea, event, product or anything that involves our resources (time and money) we weigh them against the aforementioned documents.

First and foremost is the selection of coffee. I will not bore you with the lengthy criteria we have, but just know ethical business practices and transparency are just as important as taste.

We announced that we will be running out of one of our better selling coffees in February. Also, we are committed to finding a decaffeinated coffee worthy of our label. When I talk to the different coffee brokers I give them the taste profile I am looking for and they send me samples. At this point the wholesale price is not discussed. The reason I do not ask is because I do not want to be influenced by the price.

In my current search I allowed a new broker to send me some samples. Before I could tell him not to give me prices he quoted them to me. They were at a 50-60% discount to the prices I normally pay. A red flag should have gone up and I should have told him not to bother sending the samples. The capitalist side of me screamed “try it you’ll like it”.  Alas, when we cupped them, Max and I could not spit the coffee out of our mouths fast enough.

We found two great candidates for replacing the Wata Dara from two different brokers. The first one I pursued was close to 40% less than what I paid for the Wata Dara.  As I was doing my due diligence however, I found that this coffee did not come from an estate, coop or farm. I was unable to verify who the grower was and how much they got paid. Yes, I am sad to confess I spent too much time arguing with myself about compromising the foundational documents for more profit. But the statements won the debate as they ALWAYS will and I walked away from this first coffee option. This process took about a week.

I then called up the other broker who had a wonderful replacement for Wata Dara which passed my due diligence test and told him I wanted to buy his coffee.  Sadly, I was told that he just sold all he had a couple of days before I had called.

In our quest to find the replacement for Wata Dara and a decaf, we soon came upon a wonderful exciting new discovery. There is a new coffee from Ethiopia from the Yirgacheffe region which is famous for producing great coffee.  The coop is called Konga. The coffee will arrive in a couple of weeks. I do not want to over-hype it but let’s just say that Max is having trouble helping me to contain my excitement about this coffee.  We hope it will arrive in time to have it for everyone to taste at the Omaha Lawn, Flower & Patio Show at the Century Link Center on February 7th – 10th.