Small-batch roasting is a necessity if you are serious about being in the coffee business. This weekend, when I was working behind the bar, I had my decaf espresso tank on me. Instead of the golden crema coming out of the portafilter, a rancid blackness brewed (but still tasted better than the big boys). After adjusting and cleaning and what not, I had to conclude that the beans themselves had turned. Since decaf is such a small part of our overall sales, we don't get beans very often. Thankfully, I had recently gotten a much fresher bag and was able to switch them out. But, I have three (yes, three) old bags that are worthless--but I've already made the capital investment in them. Sigh.
I love the espresso that The Commonplace roasts for us. They are an inspirationg to us, including the concept of small-batch roasting. Now I need to make the long odyssey of learning how to master this art/science so that I can take care of all my bean needs in house. What a great business this is.
Also, if you haven't caught it, please read TJ's article about Arabica beans, which even the worst gas stations are "proudly" offering. As always, Caveat Emptor.