Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Coffee and the crisis
The two reasons I've just started home-roasting coffee are:
1. It's way easier on my wallet - even taking into account electricity use.
2. Green beans keep a lot longer than roasted beans. (I've read that if stored well, green beans can keep for 2-4 years with little loss of quality.) I'm keen to start storing coffee in case imported supplies become unreliable. Given how long they keep, it makes a lot more sense to store the beans at the green stage.
Of course I could solve all the issues in one fell swoop by giving up coffee, but I'm not quite ready for that!
I used this website's instructions to get started.
I buy green beans - Ethiopian Yirgacheffe - from People's Coffee.
I roast them in our little old electric popcorn maker.
The first time I did it, it took eight minutes.
Now I've got it up to nine.
Dan, one of the lovely People's Coffee barristas, says the ideal amount of time (for a dark roast I think) is about 16 minutes. If you roast too fast it doesn't taste as good.
Apparently electric popcorn makers can sometimes roast coffee much, MUCH too fast, but Dan seemed to think that 8 or 9 minutes was pretty respectable for one of these appliances.
A few notes:
I was relieved to find that the smoke produced during the process wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be.
As the beans heat and puff up, they crackle and pop a bit. I put a bowl under the popcorn maker just like I do for popcorn, and during the roasting, when any beans come flying out and land in the bowl, I quickly drop them back into the popcorn maker.
The husks that fly off have to be cleaned up afterwards, but it's really not that bad.
I'd like to try roasting beans in our cast iron frying pan. That way I could do it over the woodburner in winter and avoid electricity use. I think I'd get a more uneven result, but I might be able to control the overall speed of the roast better.
Ultimately I'd love a proper stove-top popcorn maker to use.
I've just found out that Sharon and her family roast their own beans too - have been doing it for ages. Hopefully I can pick up some tips and ideas from her.