What Size RK Drum is Right for Roasting Coffee for Profit?

So, you’re interested in roasting coffee for profit? It’s a rewarding business that’s easy to get into and easy to grow. One of the benefits is that almost everyone is a potential customer. In a recent article from Reuters, the number of daily drinkers continue to rise, with about 62% of Americans drinking coffee daily. Another benefit is that is a very inexpensive business to start, with no prior experience required to be successful. All you need is a supply of green coffee, a method of roasting coffee beans, a method of cooling, bags and labels, and a plan to get your coffee into your customers’ hands.

If you’re considering starting a microroastery, one of the biggest decisions is what coffee roaster to purchase. Furthermore, if you’re just starting up, you likely can’t afford an automated commercial roaster, which can start in the 5-figures. In contrast, RK Drums offers an affordable roaster that produces coffee as good as, or some would argue even better, than expensive, commercial roasters.

But, what size RK Drum Coffee Roaster is right for your new microroastery? 

When roasting for profit, we recommend roasting with at least a 6 LB RK Drum. The 2 LB and 4 LB RK Drums are oftentimes quickly outgrown, even as early as 60 or 90 days.

One important consideration is that the finished weight of the coffee will be less than the starting weight of the coffee. The reason for this is that the coffee beans lose moisture during the roasting process. This fact will have an impact on your bottom line, so you’ll want to take this fact into account when deciding how dark to roast and calculating your profit. While we want to stress that roasting a particular coffee to its ideal roasting point is important, we don’t want to roast unnecessarily darker than we must.  The darker you roast, the more water weight you lose, and the more coffee you have to provide to the customer to make up your indicated weight.  For this reason, when in doubt, always roast to a well-rounded medium where it’s easier on your pocketbook.

The 6 LB RK Drum

One important consideration is that the finished weight of the coffee will be less than the starting weight of the coffee. The reason for this is that the coffee beans lose moisture during the roasting process. This fact will have an impact on your bottom line, so you’ll want to take this fact into account when deciding how dark to roast and calculating your profit. While we want to stress that roasting a particular coffee to its ideal roasting point is important, we don’t want to roast unnecessarily darker than we must.  The darker you roast, the more water weight you lose, and the more coffee you have to provide to the customer to make up your indicated weight.  For this reason, when in doubt, always roast to a well-rounded medium where it’s easier on your pocketbook.

The low cost and easy-handling of the 6 LB RK Drum makes it a great choice for a side hustle or a budget-conscious first-time business owner.

The 6 LB RK Drum

The 6 LB RK Drum is the smallest drum we recommend for roasting for profit. With this drum, you will be able to roast 6 lbs of coffee every 20 minutes, or a max of 144 lbs for an 8-hour day. Standard coffee bags generally hold 12 oz of coffee, so 144 lbs of coffee will fill 192 coffee bags. Assuming $7 profit per bag, roasting for just a half day could make you $672. The 6 LB RK Drum is also lightweight enough for a teenager or small adult to handle. The drum itself weight 11 lbs and measures 18″ long by 8″ diameter. Fully loaded and assembled, it weighs around 20 lbs.

With any RK Drum, you can easily make back the money you invest in equipment, but this is especially true with the 6 LB RK Drum.

The 8 LB RK Drum

The 8 LB RK Drum is the next size up from the 6 LB RK Drum. With this drum, you will be able to roast 8 lbs of coffee every 20 minutes, or a max of 192 lbs for an 8-hour day. Filling coffee bags with 12 oz of coffee means that we can fill 256 bags with 192 lbs of coffee. One thing that you gain with each larger drum size is efficiency and less labor for the same amount of coffee. For example, to produce the same amount of coffee with the 8 LB RK Drum that it would take all day to produce with the 6 LB RK Drum would only take 6 hours. For approximately $100 price difference between the 6 LB and 8 LB RK Drums, the savings in labor could be invaluable.

The 8 LB RK Drum is larger and heavier than the 6 LB RK Drum, and that could be a factor in your decision. The 8 LB RK Drum weighs 15.5. lbs and measures 24″ long by 8″ diameter. Fully loaded and assembled, it weighs about 27 lbs, 7 lbs more than the 6 lb drum when it is fully loaded and assembled. At this size and weight, most adults should feel comfortable handling and working with the 8 LB RK Drum. 

The capacity of the drum makes it suitable for not just a side hustle, but also a full-time business venture.

The 8 LB RK Drum

The 8 LB RK Drum is the next size up from the 6 LB RK Drum. With this drum, you will be able to roast 8 lbs of coffee every 20 minutes, or a max of 192 lbs for an 8-hour day. Filling coffee bags with 12 oz of coffee means that we can fill 256 bags with 192 lbs of coffee. One thing that you gain with each larger drum size is efficiency and less labor for the same amount of coffee. For example, to produce the same amount of coffee with the 8 LB RK Drum that it would take all day to produce with the 6 LB RK Drum would only take 6 hours. For approximately $100 price difference between the 6 LB and 8 LB RK Drums, the savings in labor could be invaluable.

The 8 LB RK Drum is larger and heavier than the 6 LB RK Drum, and that could be a factor in your decision. The 8 LB RK Drum weighs 15.5. lbs and measures 24″ long by 8″ diameter. Fully loaded and assembled, it weighs about 27 lbs, 7 lbs more than the 6 lb drum when it is fully loaded and assembled. At this size and weight, most adults should feel comfortable handling and working with the 8 LB RK Drum. 

The capacity of the drum makes it suitable for not just a side hustle, but also a full-time business venture.

It is the perfect balance between capacity and handleability for the serious microroaster.

The 12 LB RK Drum

Our largest standard sized drum is the 12 LB RK Drum. This drum can produce double the amount of coffee as the 6 LB RK Drum, that is, 12 lbs of coffee every 20 minutes, or a max of 288 lbs for an 8-hour day. Or, conversely, it can produce the same amount of coffee as the 6 LB RK Drum in half the time. The large capacity makes it ideal for a full-time business, or for someone that wants to spend less time roasting. There are, after all, many other aspects of running a successful business, such as promoting and delivering your product, which will require your time and attention. The 12 LB RK Drum weighs 18 lbs and measures 24″ long by 10″ diameter. Fully loaded and assembled, it is around 34 lbs.

The 12 LB RK Drum

Our largest standard sized drum is the 12 LB RK Drum. This drum can produce double the amount of coffee as the 6 LB RK Drum, that is, 12 lbs of coffee every 20 minutes, or a max of 288 lbs for an 8-hour day. Or, conversely, it can produce the same amount of coffee as the 6 LB RK Drum in half the time. The large capacity makes it ideal for a full-time business, or for someone that wants to spend less time roasting. There are, after all, many other aspects of running a successful business, such as promoting and delivering your product, which will require your time and attention. The 12 LB RK Drum weighs 18 lbs and measures 24″ long by 10″ diameter. Fully loaded and assembled, it is around 34 lbs.

14 lb rk drum

It is the perfect balance between capacity and handleability for the serious microroaster.

Custom Drum Sizes & Special Requests

Think you want an even larger drum? Have something special in mind? Planning on putting your RK Drum in a re-purposed pizza oven or over a fire pit? In many cases, we are able to accommodate your unique roasting setup with a custom drum designed just for you. Contact us to discuss your idea.

What Size is Right for Your Microroastery?

No matter what size you decide on, you really can’t go wrong. Fresh roasted coffee is an in-demand product that mass-produced coffee just can’t compete with. Get people to try your coffee, one way or another, and they will continue to come back.

If you buy a smaller drum and decide you want a larger production capacity later, you can purchase an additional drum and use both of them. With a 20 minute window for each batch from start to finish, it’s easy to run staggered roasts at the same time. While one batch is roasting in one drum, you can empty finished coffee and measure and load green coffee in a second drum. This actually allows you to develop a nice rhythm, once you get the hang of it.
What factors are you considering to decide on which drum to purchase for your microroastery?

No matter what size you decide on, you really can’t go wrong. Fresh roasted coffee is an in-demand product that mass-produced coffee just can’t compete with. Get people to try your coffee, one way or another, and they will continue to come back.

If you buy a smaller drum and decide you want a larger production capacity later, you can purchase an additional drum and use both of them. With a 20 minute window for each batch from start to finish, it’s easy to run staggered roasts at the same time. While one batch is roasting in one drum, you can empty finished coffee and measure and load green coffee in a second drum. This actually allows you to develop a nice rhythm, once you get the hang of it.
What factors are you considering to decide on which drum to purchase for your microroastery?

Author: Shane Lewis

Shane is the founder of the green coffee exporter Old Spanish Main, Ltda. in Bogotá, Colombia, having practiced under the renowned grader & cupper Lelly Espitia. He is a cultivator of a #14 Colombian Cup of Excellence coffee. Shane currently designs & manufactures coffee, cacao & grain roasters with RK Drums.

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