Thursday, January 13, 2011

My First Coffee Roasting Experience

Imagine the Talking Heads' "Burning Down the House" playing.

The coffee beans and grinder arrived on Tuesday. It was dark and snowing by the time I got home from work. Knowing that I would need to roast the beans outside, I decided to wait and be patient. Yesterday the snow was gone, replaced by lots of rain. Still not good roasting weather. My husband suggested I roast them in the basement, with the door open. When I got a break at work I ventured home and set about gathering all my equipment into the basement. The husband was busy on the computer, upstairs, so I didn’t bother him. I set up a table in the basement doorway, plugged in the popcorn popper, and added some raw beans. They were swirling away as I replaced the plastic top to the popper and set a bowl underneath to catch the chaff. Sure enough, after just a few minutes the chaff came flying out of the chute and landed (mostly) in the bowl. And still the beans swirled, getting steadily darker. Not long after, I heard the first crack. Pop, pop, pop. Similar to popcorn. I had my ear down next to the popper, trying to listen for the second crack. The beans were getting nice and dark and I was fearful of burning them. As I’m listening intently, suddenly the smoke detector goes off. There I am in the basement, at a crucial stage of the roasting. I don’t want to unplug the popper, and the smoke detector is steadily blaring, making it difficult to listen for the second crack. Then my husband makes his way to the basement, looking for the fire. I explain that I am just roasting these beans and can’t quit right now. Mind you I am in the basement doorway, with my little set up. He insists on squeezing past to reset the alarm. At this point I realize there is too much noise and commotion. I give up listening for that illusive second crack and unplug the popper. I remove the top and peer in at my newly roasted beans with slight disappointment. They don’t look nearly dark enough. Oh well, I’m sure they’ll be drinkable. I pour them into a metal colander and begin bouncing them around to bring them quickly to room temperature.

The following photos were taken in my kitchen, after the fact. Here is the redneck roaster and the bowl of chaff.

Much of the chaff swirled out when I was carrying the bowl from the basement into the house, but you get the idea.

And here are side by side comparisons of the beans, pre and post roasting. The beans swell up quite a bit during the roast.

Once cooled I placed them into a glass jar and set the lid on, loosely, to gas off overnight.

I couldn’t wait to grind some beans for today’s morning coffee. I lovingly washed the coffee pot, then got out my brand new Krups grinder. The moment of truth. But how much to grind?

I started with 3 scoops (regular coffee scoop) of the beans for my usual 10 cups of coffee. This is the amount I normally use with commercially purchased pre-ground coffee.

Unfortunately this was not enough coffee. My first batch was weak. But definitely drinkable. I am going down to prepare a second pot and will hope to present the husband with a nice cup of coffee when he wakes up.

Update: Just brewed a fresh pot while feeding the chickens. Much better. Still needs to be roasted more, though. Next time.

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