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September | October 2021

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IN THIS ISSUE OF ROAST, you will find our 2021 Roasting Business and Salary survey. Although it is our fourth time conducting the survey, it is our first since 2016 (the first survey was conducted in 2008). It provides quantitative results, giving a view into our collective industry, as well as qualitative results to add a personal voice that is critical to contextualizing the data.

I hope you find the categories and responses thought provoking, rather than simply a collection of results. As we all know, statistics can be dangerous animals; one can invent multitudes of universes based on the same data and, with pretzel twists of logic, can justify their existence quite easily. For instance, by simply skimming through and selectively combining the largest buckets from the survey charts, it could (unreasonably) be concluded that the roasting business is dominated by wholesale roasters, with a single inexperienced owner/roaster working on one machine, raking in over $1 million in business each year while attending trade shows and cupping most of the time. To quote a favorite movie, ‘Truly, you have a dizzying intellect.’

It’s human nature to view the data through a lens that reinforces preexisting prejudices. This is where both the quantitative results and comparisons to previous surveys provide critical context to aid in finding trends in the statistics, providing insights that enable us to evolve and adjust course in our own businesses.

With the aforementioned risks in mind, here are a couple of thoughts on the results for consideration. Some of the results are surprisingly stable given the time and changes that have occurred in the world between this survey and the previous one. Our industry still reflects people who are passionate about what they do (or at least generally satisfied), despite the reality that many feel underpaid for their level of responsibility. Given the increase in the percent of businesses doing more than $1 million per year, perhaps consolidation is having an effect? Lastly, could comparing annual revenue to the number of employees or the number of roasting machines to floor space possibly tell the story that roasters are more efficient than in the past? Or maybe you are all just working more?

I am curious to hear how the results align to your experiences and what thoughts and trends you pull out of the survey. For the next survey (and the next and the next), I hope the numbers continue to reflect our passion for the job.

With regard,

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