Clear Lake Coffee Roasters: Industry Insider Series - What is Toll-Roasting? Also known as 'Slot Roasting' -- Everything You Need To Know About Toll Roasting To Get Started - Jan 15,2022


The concept of toll-roasting or 'slot roasting' is simple. Someone has a large amount of unroasted green coffee beans that they need to roast. They may not have a roaster, or they may have a roaster that is not big enough to roast all of the coffee that they need roasted to meet a purchase order within a specified timeframe. This is when hiring a toll-roaster or slot roaster can come in handy.

Toll-roasters are third-party roasters that probably have their own coffee brand or company ( e.g. Pulley Collective ]) but are willing to roast coffee for others as well. Toll roasting benefits both parties because the roaster is able to make use of the big capacity of their roaster, while the client is able to get their coffee roasted much, much faster than if they would try to roast it themselves on a smaller roaster.

Although starting your own roastery can be rewarding, it also presents a substantial financial risk. The start-up costs alone can take years to recoup, while ongoing expenses such as fuel and rent can quickly add up.

For those who want to create their own coffee brand without the significant costs involved, “toll roasting” has become an increasingly popular alternative. Also known as “slot roasting”, it involves purchasing green beans and sending them to a roaster who will roast them to your specifications.

Not only does it limit your financial risk, it allows you to spend more time sourcing high quality green beans and putting together a strong brand identity. It can also give you time to improve your knowledge of roasting before spending money on equipment of your own. We, at Clear Lake Coffee Roasters, offer a 'slot roasting' program at competitive pricing, contact us for additional information. Feel free to email us at


Setting up a roastery can be complicated and expensive. To be successful, it requires substantial capital, as well as in-depth knowledge of the coffee roasting process.

Once you’ve established your roastery, generating consistent profits year-on-year can be a constant battle, and you may find you’re spending more time on the business side than you are on the roasting.

Toll roasting offers an alternative for those who are passionate about coffee but don’t have the means or time required to set up their own roastery. In its simplest form, it involves sourcing green beans and sending them off to an established roaster to be roasted to a set of specifications.

Once roasted, the beans are packaged and sent back, after which they can be distributed and sold under a different label. A “toll” is usually taken as payment, with the exact amount calculated by how much coffee is roasted. 

Toll roasting has become particularly popular among café owners who want to sell their own branded coffee but lack the means to roast it themselves. It offers a great opportunity to expand reach and market their brand without investing in a roasting facility.

In some cases, toll roasting is used by other roasters who have taken on orders much larger than the capacity of their roastery allows. If this happens, they may decide to send off a certain number of beans to be roasted elsewhere instead of hiring new staff or increasing the size of their roaster.


The market for home coffee has taken off in 2021-2022. This has produced a higher demand for coffee sold online direct to consumers, and e-commerce coffee businesses have risen to meet that demand. One of the ways that e-commerce coffee brands, without their own coffee roaster, are getting their coffee to market is with a toll-roaster.

A toll-roaster helps those who want to start their own coffee brand by doing the coffee roasting, while the business owner does the branding for the coffee business and markets their products. This is also considered private-label coffee.


Sometimes a coffee shop may need a toll-roaster as well. Whether they roast their own coffee or not, there may be a big order or some reason why they need to roast a lot of coffee at once.


Offering A Toll Roasting Service

For some specialty coffee roasters, offering a toll roasting service is an attractive prospect.

For one, it’s an opportunity to share coffee roasting expertise and deliver quality coffee for a range of different companies. Developing the skills required to become a roaster takes years of hard work and it can be very rewarding to put these skills to use beyond their own brand of coffee.

It also offers an additional source of income for roasters who have the time and capacity. If demand dips for their own coffee, they can use the spare time to roast coffee for other businesses or individuals.

For toll-roasting one needs to have a big coffee roaster to make the most of the time that they are roasting. A 70-kilo roaster will roast much faster than a 10 or 15-kilo roaster. Some coffee roasters may use a smaller roaster that does the job very well. If they get a big order in, they may need to utilize the services of a toll roaster so that they can get the coffee roasted in time.

There are many other benefits of toll-roasting that can help people in different sectors of the coffee market. Toll-roasting specialty coffee is less common and is something we do at US Roast. If someone has specialty coffee that they need roasted, our 70-kilo Loring can roast up to 600 pounds of coffee an hour with incredible flavor profiles. If you need coffee roasted for your e-commerce brand, cold brew company, or coffee shop, contact us and we would love to give you a quote!

The Impact Of Covid-19 On Toll Roasting

As the effects of Covid-19 continue to be felt around the world, the way people buy coffee has started to change. 

Online orders and coffee subscriptions have increased considerably since March 2020. In the US, coffee subscriptions sales have risen by an estimated 109% in the last year alone.

As a result, many coffee businesses, including cafés, have set up ecommerce shops to offer their own brand of coffee in this thriving market. However, without the facilities to roast their own coffee, toll roasting has been the obvious answer.

“The market for home coffee has taken off in 2020,” writes US Roast. “This has produced a higher demand for coffee sold online directly to consumers, and e-commerce coffee businesses have arisen to meet that demand. 

“A toll-roaster helps those who want to start their own coffee brand by doing the coffee roasting, while the business owner does the branding for the coffee business and markets their products.”

This has been phenomenally helpful for café owners who may have missed out on income due to the impact of Covid-19 lockdowns. It has helped keep their brands at the forefront of customers’ minds without the need to splash out on their own roastery or expensive marketing.

It has also been beneficial to micro roasters, many of whom have experienced huge surges in demand since the start of the pandemic, as customers increasingly consume their coffee at home

Toll roasting services have allowed them to fulfil large orders in a short period of time, putting many of them in a strong position to expand their own roasteries further down the line.

Toll roasting has become an increasingly popular service in recent years. 

Whether a café looking to promote its brand, a micro roaster fulfilling large orders, or simply an individual with a passion for sourcing quality coffee, toll roasting offers all the benefits of roasting without the high costs.


Whilst you're here are 6 reasons for making Clear Lake Coffee Roasters - CLCR - your go-to coffee roaster:

☕️ We are a local family-run business located in the heart of Clear Lake, Iowa.

☕️ We go to great lengths to find only the finest and ethically sourced coffee around, from the top 2% of coffee beans in the world.

☕️ We only source 100% certified Arabica coffee beans, carefully hand-selecting each coffee based on specific quality and taste attributes.

☕️ Our roasting process has been refined over the years and each roast profile is individually designed to complement the nuances of the coffee we source, from Cup of Excellence (COE) award-winning producers.

☕️ By roasting in smaller batches, we can ensure our coffee is ALWAYS fresh, in fact, we roast your coffee only after you place an order - the same day your order ships out.

☕️ At CLCR, we are dedicated to a single mission: the unyielding pursuit of coffee perfection in every cup.

We would give you more reasons, but rather than reading it's better if you visit our website, purchase a bag or two, and experience a unique caffeinated or half-caff journey for yourself 😊!
Explore goodness. Click. Buy. Smile.

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