Do Shared Roaster Spaces Work?


Sean Edwards

8/1/20234 min read

In my global travels I have seen several shared roasting spaces and can understand the benefits of merging with a fully developed coffee space versus the capital outlay of building your own bricks and mortar roasting facility.

It’s nice to own your own infrastructure but when you are starting out cash flow is king and there are lots of hidden costs in starting a roasting business.

Things like local government approval, setting up power and gas, and food safety regulations all cost money before you even consider equipment. Waiting times on new roasting equipment can be up to 2 years as the smaller roasters enter the market.

I have been very interested in roasting cooperatives and have visited many good setups around the world.

The first one I saw was the Pulley Collective in New York City and I was very impressed with the concept and the infrastructure and what could be used at the facility. The Red Hook site had fully equipped cupping rooms, bean storage and packing machines, and an array of different size coffee roasters. The setup has recently moved to Los Angeles and is hosting a couple of Australian brands. Version two of this clever system is working well. I have also visited and used the event spaces at other outfits like Buckman Coffee Factory in Portland and the California Roasting Collective in San Diego. All these cooperatives have good concepts and members get to utilise the support from the facilitators’ coffee experience, which is vital in brand development. Having professional mentors assists enormously in the early stages of starting a coffee business.

Brisbane-based Coffee Commune began two years ago, they researched well and created a very usable 2000m2 shared roasting facility, which not only allows for roasting but also offers well needed business support from global coffee leaders to its members.

Coffee Commune have positioned themselves to be a one-stop-shop for any size coffee roasting business and have heavily invested in all new brands of state-of-the-art roasting and packing facilities. Most members book in time at the facility and use the roaster that will best suit their production capacity. They have also helped many roasters to catch up with their stock levels when there has been a breakdown or a long-haul maintenance project. This relationship was once unheard of in this competitive marketplace, but Managing Director of Coffee Commune, Phillip Di Bella, was once on the other side of the fence and wished this solution had been there for him at the time it was needed.

The Coffee Commune has a purpose-built event space with a fully operational cafe on site which has about 200 customers a day enjoying great food and coffee. The cafe also caters for event functions that members of the commune have utilised to conduct workshops, seminars and even personal parties. The inhouse chefs can create special menus to suit the event, using quality fresh products.

The fifty plus contract roasters using The Coffee Commune roast for over 850 cafes around Australia. The Commune not only supports the members with roasting assistance, but they can also help with green bean procurement, education, and networking via the regular business events they hold. The space also has an office area and hot desks and hosts 15 in-residence businesses which gives members some direct links to specialty suppliers, like packaging to legal support.

Over 2500 reciprocal and affiliated members, partners and collaborators are part of The Coffee Commune network and this is growing. Becoming a member is easy and gives you real insight on how the coffee industry works by creating great contacts and learning from experienced operators.

Coffee roasting is a business and it’s not just about turning green bean brown, it’s about being knowledgeable in all facets of business and understanding future trends. The Coffee Commune was a long-term project for Phillip and Gianna Di Bella. It was many years of running other successful coffee businesses around the globe and combining the best practices which resulted in the starting of The Coffee Commune. Phil has always shared his knowledge throughout the years being on a constant speaking circuit and he is now practising what he’s been preaching – that is, helping small businesses grow into profitable entities.

The Coffee Commune recently took out overall winner in the first ever World Series Coffee Roasters Competition final which was hosted by Golden Bean, in Hawaii. Master Roaster, Raihaan Esat of The Coffee Commune won the competition beating the best one hundred coffee roasters in the world. Raihaan’s skill of roasting and coffee procurement helped him style his winning coffees to the latest on-trend profiles.

For more membership information and how you can be part of this network;

Sean Edwards

Managing Director Sean has been involved in the Australian café industry for over 20 years. Originally owning several regional café businesses he became passionate about the growth of the world coffee and Australian cafe industries.

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