Profile: Renegade Roasters Design Group

in Buying Coffee, Coffee and You, Coffee Gear

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I always love hearing a business story that combines a lot of dedication and a little bit of luck, to create something brand new.  That’s the story of Cheryl and Boyd, of the Renegade Roasters Design Group in El Cajon, California.

For 20 years prior to 2000, Renegade was installing and servicing coffee roasting equipment.  At that time, they were the company helping install Krispy Kreme‘s coffee roasting plant.  Boyd was getting increasingly frustrated with some of the common design features of coffee roasters.  He truly felt as though he could design something that better fit the needs of the coffee roaster industry.

While they were doing their work for Krispy Kreme, Cheryl and Boyd asked if they could be provided space on the production floor for Boyd to tinker with different ideas he had.  It was then that the Renegade roaster was invented.  Fourteen years later, it is available in at least three different sizes depending on the amount of coffee that needs to be roasted.

Since then, the company has sold roasting machines throughout California and all over the world.  While I visited them, Cheryl told me about a local roaster that I’ve been to before, that has been roasting for 25 years.  When they needed to expand production by buying a new roasting machine, they turned to Renegade.  They liked their trial of the Renegade, and if it fits in with their business, Renegade will be their future provider of roasting equipment.  And this is a company that’s been doing the same thing successfully for 25 years.  There’s always room for improvement.

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     So, why the name Renegade?  Simple.  Because the big established roasting equipment manufacturers don’t like them.  They have taken a step back from how coffee was being roasted conventionally, and re-thought the model.  In re-thinking the model, they have identified ways to better customize how coffee is roasted to bring out the best in it, and how to make the coffee roaster’s life easier in the process.  For instance, Cheryl showed me how easily a Renegade can be cleaned and maintained, versus the conventional machines.  When a big company has had the good fortune to do things the same way for so many years, it’s the companies like Renegade that reconsider how things are done, invent something better, and force the much slower-moving big companies to change.

Just as customer service is a must for the coffee roaster, so too is it for Renegade.  As Cheryl pointed out to me, “we answer our phones seven days a week”.  When the coffee roaster is working, Renegade is working.

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