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Roast Coffee - Elf M. Sternberg
Roast Coffee
So, this morning, I experimented with roasting my own coffee. I tried it in a rotary tumbling roaster, also known as a popcorn popper-- a good use since I no longer use the popcorn popper to make popcorn, having discovered the joy and power of actually making popcorn the old-fashioned way, in oil.

I put the green beans into the cool popper and turned it on. They started tumbling and then the smell started. And I got worried. The first thing I learned was that it makes things much hotter than the popcorn does. I'm not sure why. The plastic of the horn felt soft, and the glue holding the top to the body of the horn actually softened enough that it came loose.

After three minutes, the skins of the beans started to fly off and into the paper bag I had set up as a receptacle, and then I heard the beans crack. They started to darken. At four minutes, they started to smoke and I could smell a slight burning. At five minutes, I turned it off, turned the beans out into the grinder, and then put it into the French press, and added water fresh off the boil.

It was... weird. Significantly stronger than ordinary coffee, it was both more bitter and more smooth. By the time I had gotten to the end of he first cup, I felt that I had figured out the coffeeness of it. And all of those "chocolate hints" coffee folks talk about were there is full force. At first I was a bit dubious about it but by the time I'd finished my first cup I understood why this was such great coffee. The beans were Nicaraguan. I don't know how much of a difference that actually makes to the whole thing. Maybe I'll try Ethiopian beans next. Still, given the fact that I only get to do this on the weekends, it's entirely possible that the half-pound bag I bought will last me for a couple of months.

Current Mood: caffeinated

7 comments or Leave a comment
slutdiary From: slutdiary Date: September 19th, 2004 03:46 am (UTC) (Link)

Home roasting

I've been doing it for a while. I get green beans by the baggie-full at the local Ethiopian mart on 85th near Greenwood.

I haven't picked up a Value Village popcorn popper to try yet. I've got an old 10" wood handled wok style frying pan that I have dedicated to home roasting. You have to pretty much stand there and stir - I use a wooden spatula - frequently through the entire process. I pour the roasted beans into an aluminum collander with fairly big holes to shake the fluff off. I find that it works best for me if I mix them with a larger quantity of a dark roast. By themselves they're a bit overwhelming, but one part home roast mixed in with two parts of Sumatra or French Roast or such works pretty well for me.

I use a Melita #2 one cup filter system.
elfs From: elfs Date: September 20th, 2004 11:55 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Home roasting

Does that make a lot of smoke? It sounds like something you should do outdoors, given the amount that came off in the popcorn popper... Someone pointed out to me that the reason coffee is hotter in a popcorn popper than popcorn is that popcorn gives off steam, which transmits the heat out of the popper efficiently, whereas the beans retain it while they roast and the chamber can be significantly hotter as a result.
From: technoshaman Date: September 19th, 2004 08:00 am (UTC) (Link)
Five minutes? This is in what, a hot air popper?

Hey, maybe Mike Callahan's instant uberfresh irish coffee machine will work after all!

Although I imagine decaf is not something you'd get in green beans... but it would be great for the full-octane folks..
elfs From: elfs Date: September 19th, 2004 10:18 am (UTC) (Link)
Yes, in a hot-air popper. And you can buy specialized tumbling mini-roasters that will do just one or two cups of coffee at a time, complete with digital temperature controls and all that. They're basically really expensive popcorn poppers turned on the side. I doubt you could do decaf in them, though.
fallenpegasus From: fallenpegasus Date: September 19th, 2004 10:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
Shoot an email over to docorion and drop my name, to get advice for home roasting coffee.
slutdiary From: slutdiary Date: September 19th, 2004 11:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for the inspiration. I hadn't roasted any in a few weeks but spent a goodly while today roasting some up.
From: (Anonymous) Date: September 21st, 2004 10:21 am (UTC) (Link)

Food Science

As usual, the Good Eats Fan Page brings further enlightenment:

7 comments or Leave a comment