...gonna kick the darkness 'till it bleeds daylight... musings of a hungarian in texas

©2003 by Annamaria Kovacs. All contents of this blog are the property of the author. Use with written permission only.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Coffee Roasting

I meant to blog about this a week ago, but what with family moving to town and such, I didn't quite have the time.
Simply, I got fed up with the stuff stores and the office tries to pass out as coffee these days, and after doing some extensive research and calculations regarding investment in time and monies versus quality and eventual return, I went ahead and ordered a home coffee roaster, complete with 8 different types of 1/2 lbs. green coffee, each single origin from different and very exciting corners of the world.

This stuff is fun; it takes me about 20 minutes every 3rd day or so to roast my own coffee fresh, and let it stand for 24 hours; sometimes more, so I always have 2 different types running; that way I have fresh coffee all the time. Then I grind right before brewing in the morning and in the afternoon when I get home from work, and either use the drip coffee brewer, or the French press, and transfer what we don't drink at once into a thermos. You would NOT believe the difference. We already have our favorites:we both really liked the Brazil estate coffee I roasted the first time, and the Mokha Java mix I made out of 50-50% Sumatra Mandheling and Yemen Sana' ani mellowed out after 48-72 hours to a very powerful and yet rounded blend that is excellent in the morning.
SO--here is the process of coffee roasting on my Nesco Coffee Roaster.
This is the roaster before pouring in the beans:

This is the roaster with 4 oz. Peru Norte Especial in the roasting chamber, ready to go. Once you plug in, you select the roasting time (on this machine it included 5 minutes of cooling time when after the roasting is complete, a high-speed fan switches on and starts rapidly cooling the beans so they don't overrroast. After setting the roasting time, you press 'Start' and it is a go. You can add or subtract minutes during roasting if you realize you set it too dark or not dark enough:
On the picture below the roasting process is at about 4 minutes, and the beans start to smell like warm hay. This is good. The Nesco has a very effective smoke eliminating filter, but I still had to disconnect the smoke detector in the kitchen while roasting. However, by all accounts I read, this is still the best that there is, and you actually cannot see the smoke at all. See how the beans swirl? There is an agitator in the chamber that spins them around while heating, and it makes the roasting very even:

Here below the color definitely started to change. This setting for this bean was a light-to-medium roast at 22 minutes (that's 17 minutes roasting plus 5 minutes cooling fan time). Generally, when you roast to a light to medium roast, the characteristics of the origin are much more pronounced and the differences between the coffee beans can really be felt. Now I am NOT yet at the stage where I can definitely feel all the nuances the coffee professionals describe these beans (and let me tell ya, they are just as poetic about it as wine tasters are...), but there are definitely differences that you cannot feel when everything is French roasted to death:

And on this image you can definitely see (despite the blur) the color..this was about 13-14 minutes into the roasting time, when the coffee starts to go through what they call 'first crack' expanding and releasing water, essential oils etc. This marks the time where, once completed, the roast can be stopped any time. The fluff in the chamber is the stuff called chaff, and it comes off the green beans as they roast. There is a LOT of it, but thankfully the Nesco's chaff collector is rather good, so the majority of it I can just shake from the collector on top to the compost crock after emptying the roasting chamber. There will be some on the counter inevitably, but it's easy to wipe up:

After the cooling cycle is complete, this is what it looks like:

Pretty isn't it? I just empty the beans into a stainless steel colander with a plate beneath (to catch the chaff remaining in the chamber), and stir vigorously for a while to cool down:

After all that, when the beans are room temperature, I transfer to an airtight container (the one with a rubber gasket seal around the rim, a mason canning jar is perfectly fine actually), and leave it open for 12 hours so th beans can outgas CO2. After that, seal, and store for 12 more hours before enjoying it. Some beans need more time to fully develop, but right after 24 hours when you open that jar, it really hammers it home just how much better it is.

I actually drink less coffee now that we have the roaster because the less is more intense, and frankly, after having freshly ground coffee at home, restaurant coffee is just horrid. I tried. I'll stick with tea from now on when I am not home.

The fun part of it is the my brother-in-law has a La Pavoni espresso machine, so as long as I roast the beans, he'll have fancy beans to make into lovely doppios and cappuccinos for us...hee-hee.

The bad part of it is that now I want a burr grinder, a new drip pot, and an espresso machine for myself. How long is it till I got my summer bonus check again?



At 12:40 PM, Blogger coffespaz said...

That is really amazing!! I LOVE coffee, but I would never have considered trying to roast my own beans. Very nice. You'll have to experiment with different mixtures and let us know what they taste like. :-)

At 1:16 PM, Blogger Annamaria said...

Well, I had no idea you could do it either until I stumbled on the website of the company I linked to...and this being Dallas, we don't have many companies who roast their own beans here, so I lucked out sourcing my coffee there. Mail ordering freshly roasted coffee is rather expensive on the long run, so this was the cheapest option on having really high quality coffee while not bankrupting one's household in the process. After drinking this stuff for a week, when we tried restaurant coffee this weekend we could feel our tooth enamel starting to decay...

At 1:21 PM, Blogger coffespaz said...

Ewww.... :-)

I bet it is probably still cheaper (and no doubt tastier) than buying cups of coffee from coffeehouses.

BTW..you mentioned you do french press. What grind do you use for your beans. We have a little four cup press that we use more than our electic pot, mainly because we love the taste. I usually get a lot of extra dust in the coffee though. Right now we use a medium-coarse grind, which seems to work but the coffee comes out a little bitter.

At 2:46 PM, Blogger Annamaria said...

You will always get the dust with a french press. It does not bother me at all, maybe because I also eat coffee beans out of the box before grinding? I grind in a cheap Proctor-SIlex grinder now, hopefully upgrading to the burr grinder next month (one at a time...), and I find that short bursts of about 8-10 seconds are better to gauge the fineness of the grind than one long push. I do medium grind as well for the presspot, then pour the hot water from the Zojirushi hot water pot on it, stir vigorously, cover, and let brew for 3-4 minutes, then press. Every single cup I ever made had some powder at the bottom, and after scouring the 'net I fouind this is totally normal.

At 3:54 PM, Blogger coffespaz said...

Okay, thanks. I'll try the short bursts, that might help! :-)

Mmmmm.....coffee!! :-)

At 6:21 PM, Blogger Kiki said...

That is... awesome.

As a full blooded Colombian, I salute the hell out of you.

When we have you guys over to see the baby (we're still in super duper tired anti-social mode), you are welcome to bring some. And by 'welcome' I, of course, mean you will be turned away at the door w/o it.

At 8:43 AM, Blogger Annamaria said...

Well, I might just order some Colombian for you and roast it, provided they arrive by that time, this stuff is seasonal as heck, just like other crops.
Oh, just checked. They have an Organic Narino from San Lorenzo from the January 2007 crop...for me the Colombians were always a tad on the acidic side, but the more I learn about really good coffee, the more I realize that it is the question of quality, and the acid can actually be a good thing. I just had a Tanzanian roasted two days ago, that has acid but it only brightens the fruity notes as opposed to takes the enamel off your teeth...:-)

At 3:55 PM, Blogger Kiki said...

So jealous...
Yet secure in the knowledge there is no way I will roast my own coffee. Okay, I'm adding it to the Retirement List. When I've retired, I'm roasting my own coffee.


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