Sunday, July 27, 2008

Green Coffee Beans

Sorry for the delay folks. Posts have been written, rewritten, and subsequently trashed. I blame it mostly on culture shock and boredom. The street food is lacking, I'm trying very hard to not turn this into a restaurant review blog, and many posts I've written turn into long winded rants critiquing the food culture in America. Another day perhaps.

M called the other night with news that he had picked up green beans in San Francisco. A roasting would commence on Saturday. I had been looking forward to this for over a year.

Coffee roasting can be as easy or as difficult as you like. First, you need the beans. There are a number of options, but for the first time I don't think it's very important. We used Guatemalan beans.

From there, you've got some serious choices. You can use a wok, a pan, a popcorn popper, or even a special roasting machine. We used a cast iron skillet because that is what we had at our immediate disposal.

The first trick was to get the skillet up to about 500 hundred degrees. We never had confirmation on our temperature, but boy did that skillet get hot. Once your beans are in it gets tricky. You want them to brown, but you want them to roast evenly. We tried using a shaking method to keep them evenly roasted. Our first batch proved very labor intensive. For our second, we just stirred with a spatula.

You want to hear the beans make popping sounds. I think this sound coincides with the husks popping off.

As total novices, we really had no idea how long or how dark to roast our beans, so we just eyeballed it. We settled on a lighter roast. We could do a darker one the next time around.

Once the beans are out of the skillet, you need to continue stirring to prevent over roasting.

Once the beans were no longer dangerously hot, we could grind them up.

Our chosen method of brewing was the french press, also lovingly and jokingly referred to as the Freedom Press.

The result? Not so good. We more or less under roasted our beans leading to a sour tasting coffee. Not really bad, just not as good as we'd hoped. A delicious fresh scone made it all better though.

Our second attempt was much much better. We simply roasted our beans longer, leading to a darker color, just to the point where the oil starts to show.

Do I recommend roasting your own coffee? Yes, of course I do. But if a perfect cup is what you're after, it might take some practice. It really is a lot of fun. Get together with friends, make a day of it, and then stay up all night.

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