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Making Up for Lost Time

Making Up for Lost Time

Considering the Complexities of the Coffee Roaster Supply Chain
and How CoffeeTec Can Help

By Scott K. Plail, President & CEO, CoffeeTec Roastery Development

It’s no secret that as coffee roasters, our community is involved in one of the most complex beverages on the planet, from seed to cup. Numerous variables can greatly impact the outcome of coffee, from farming practices to the final product. And, the fact that there are approximately 850 flavor constituents in coffee compared with roughly 200 in wine only furthers this complexity — and this carries over to buying coffee roasting equipment. 

Having spent the majority of my 30 years in coffee on the roaster-retailer side of the business, now as President and CEO of CoffeeTec Roastery Development, I’ve noticed that many members of our community equate the purchase of coffee equipment to acquiring equipment for other businesses or goods and services. 

While making a big investment in large equipment for any industry comes with its lists of business considerations and logistical factors, I believe these are easily magnified and multiplied when purchasing equipment for your coffee roastery. One need only look at all of the supply chain and logistical variables at play with the time it takes for coffee roasting equipment to arrive, get installed, commissioned and ready for production. Many of these variables are dependent on the size of the roaster you’re purchasing, whether it’s used or new, and where it’s manufactured. 

Let’s take a look at some of these variables as they apply to new and used coffee roasting equipment, how our current online ordering culture skews our fulfillment expectations, and how CoffeeTec can help.

New Equipment: Time, Location, and Size

If you’ve made the leap of faith to buy a brand-new coffee roaster, pat yourself on the back. As someone who’s been there, I know you had to consider a million factors just to make this decision. We’ve even written an eGuide about how to navigate the coffee-roaster buying maze. Now that you’ve placed your order, we can count the ways how this waiting game can feel more like a slow roast than a quick brew:

  1. Wait Time:
    Most new equipment manufacturers are backed up on production due to demand outweighing supply. Wait times can range from 3 months to 8 months or longer. These wait times may be shorter if you purchase domestically or if you’re buying a smaller sized roaster.

  2. International Purchases:
    If you purchase from outside your country, then you need to factor in another 20 to 30 days for ocean transport, plus clearing customs (at their discretion) and ground transportation to your location.

  3. Installation Considerations:
    Depending on the size of your roaster, installation — including filing for AQMD permits, commissioning, setting up utilities and related equipment like afterburners, destoners, and more — can add anywhere from ten to 60 days or more. 

Used Equipment: Top 4 Logistical Factors

Many of the same factors affect used equipment as with new; however, there may be even more complexities. Again, the size of the roaster can have a direct impact on the amount of time before you receive your roaster. Unlike new roasters, additional variables affect the timing of purchasing a used roaster:

  1. Disassembly: Most of the time, a used roaster requires disassembly. This can take from a few days to as many as 30 days or more for larger roasting plants.

  2. Crating: After disassembly and any other work required on the roaster to prepare it for sale and shipping, it needs to be crated. Finding an individual or company to crate the roaster can be a difficult task in itself. Once a crating service is found, it can easily take up to a week to get your roaster crated and prepped for shipping.

  3. Transportation: If the roaster is from outside your country, delays can occur in locating an available ship, clearing customs, and even potential hold-ups at the port of entry with the unloading of cargo. Once your roaster is on home soil, add on time for ground transport, unloading, and uncrating at the roastery. 
  4. Installation: Again, size matters. A smaller roaster or min-plant is fairly fast to install, but larger roasters with batch sizes of 440 kg and above can take upwards of 30 to 45 days.

How Our Online Ordering Culture Skews Expectations

When it comes to ordering anything these days, instant gratification is upping the ante for everyone across the board. Customers, including those of us purchasing coffee roasting equipment, want what we want on the spot, no questions asked. E-commerce leaders like Amazon have become the benchmark for driving this instant gratification phenomenon, and many other online retailers have followed suit — especially in the areas of improving delivery times and return policies — to stay in the game. 

 Understanding that purchasing large equipment versus products and the delivery times of each can help set correct expectations for the delivery and installation of your roaster, whether it's new or used. Further, having a solid understanding of what goes on in the roaster supply chain can help you and your business properly plan for the arrival of your roaster and possibly eliminate some potential frustrations.


CoffeeTec Can Help

Our goal at CoffeeTec is to make this purchase process as painless as possible and help you stay focused on your coffee business. We’re here to help you navigate this process — from offering our consulting and roastery design services to providing you with used equipment, offering input on crating options, and more. The same holds true with helping you sell your used equipment, and managing expectations about how long the purchase cycle can take. 

I like to say that CoffeeTec is the “Amazon” of the coffee roasting equipment industry. When I say this, I’m mostly referring to the fact that we are the largest online retailer of “everything coffee equipment” globally. But, as I’ve already pointed out, time is not on our side in this industry. 

While we may not be able to deliver roasting equipment to you in two days, we hold ourselves to high service level standards to get equipment to you as fast as we possibly can. We do everything we can to make up for lost time because we know the clock is ticking.

Final Thoughts

When you start adding up time frames for buying or selling new or used coffee roasting equipment, it’s easy to realize that you can be looking at weeks and months of anticipation. I offer these helpful tips from an industry veteran:

  1. Don’t get discouraged. You just need to plan for it.

  2. Make the most of your time. Productivity doesn’t always mean playing fast; it can also mean playing smart.

  3. Communicate, plan, and track. If you’re lucky enough to work with a team, I recommend sharing this timeline with everyone so that you’re all on the same page. Designate yourself or one of your most logistically competent team members to project manage your roaster delivery timeline and all the action items that need to be accomplished. 

Finally, know that you’re not alone. Ours is a tight-knit, collaborative community, and CoffeeTec is here right with you every step of the way. Still, as complex as coffee is, I’m not sure many of us would trade it for any other profession!

Do you have thoughts on this topic? We’d love to hear from you and connect. Feel free to contact us at to keep the conversation going and see how CoffeeTec can be of service as you work to build the coffee roastery of your dreams.


About CoffeeTec

CoffeeTec is a global coffee roastery development company that provides equipment, financing, consulting, and education services to coffee roasteries, coffeehouses, and coffee-related businesses worldwide.


CoffeeTec President and CEO Scott Plail is a 30-year veteran of the coffee industry and has been on both sides of the coffee community in manufacturing and coffee equipment. His extensive experience in consumer goods development and brand management with Fortune 500 companies provides him the ability to identify industry trends, product development opportunities, and marketing for coffee brands and roasteries globally. He is passionate about relationships throughout the coffee industry, from the indigenous coffee peoples to executives of large coffee corporations. He and his team are here to serve you.

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