Friday, May 27, 2011

Taking It to the Next Level

I love coffee. I like feeling the heat through the ceramic mug. The scent spirals in steam against my face. The nuances of dark chocolate and Cabernet that flavor the taste. Yes, it is almost a sacramental experience.

And I have all the right equipment. Two coffee grinders. One is an old-fashion hand-cranked mill that makes perfect coffee. The other is our every day electric grinder. I have an insulated stainless Bodum French press that allows the oils of the coffee to remain and coat the tongue in a lingering finish.

But I’m lacking one thing. I’ve never roasted my own beans. A few weeks ago, a friend (thank you, Julie) sent us a bag of green coffee beans. I giddily opened the bag and took a whiff of green beans. I scowled. Green coffee beans stink. I spent time on Google, researching how to best roast the beans without a big money investment. It turns out that the most practical, cheap method of roasting is a popcorn popper. And it turns out that ours is the “highly recommended” brand. (Though I wonder if our popcorn will have a coffee flavor from here on out.)

So we (Ariel, Matt, and I) took the popper outside, having read that clouds of coffee smoke would set off our smoke alarms. Sadly, there were no clouds of smoke, though there was enough to keep the mosquitoes away. (The other day I got seven bites just while I was putting food in the pond for the goldfish. I’ve now assigned my kids to feed the fish.)

Coffee bean chaff floated through the air. And it smelled fantastic. We went for the dark roast, which our directions said would take 6.5 minutes. But it wasn’t dark enough. So we went to 8 minutes before we stopped the roast because we didn’t want the beans to burn. The roast isn’t as dark as we normally drink. We’ll do darker today.

The coffee had a delicious woodsy flavor with absolutely no bitterness. I’m hoping a longer roast time will bring out the deeper flavors and more of the oils. Our directions said that the beans should be glossy with oils and our beans didn’t get that way. Any suggestions from experienced roasters?

Here are some photos.

Dark beans after roasting compared with green beans.
 Here are the beans in a metal colander--they have to be shaken to cool properly.


  1. *Coffee is serious business.* It's true.

  2. Whew! I'm glad we're not coffee drinkers, although I love the smell in the coffee aisle. And I know that if enough chocolate is put into anything, it will taste terrific. For us, it's easier to just turn on the faucet and get a glass of nice, cold water.

    I wonder if the coffee fog will chase away your mosquitos?

  3. Wow, I'm impressed. (and my hubby used to call ME a coffee snob!) Can't drink it anymore, but just reading your post, I could almost smell it. ahhhhhhh

  4. I wonder how coffee was invented. What guy went through all the right steps just to get the first cup of coffee. First he had to go pick these stinky beans. Then he had to roast them, shake them, grind them and then boil them. Who thought that this order of steps would make a good drink? Did someone go around doing this and other combinations to every type of bean they found?

  5. That sounds amazing. I love coffee, but I will admit I am nowhere near that level of devoted. My favorite part is the smell. It's divine.

    I like eating chocolate covered espresso beans too! :)

  6. You are a dedicated coffee drinker! I don't even grind my beans. But I do love coffee.

  7. @David

    Apparently people believe coffee started in Ethiopia which then spread through the traderoutes to Yemen and Egypt. Be that as it may, the first recorded occurrence of coffee was in the Sufi Monasteries.

    (..I bet all the monks drank coffee to keep awake as they copied out those scripts and writings late into the night.) :D

  8. We roast our own coffee beans when we get the chance. I tell ya, that makes the best durn cup of joe

  9. That was quite interesting.
    I'm fascinated with the use of a popcorn maker for roasting beans.

    I have a Nespresso Machine - I saw them a couple of years ago on a trip to Austria - when I got home I ordered one. I've never looked back.

    I do grinned my own, but I've never done what you have - sounds terribly exciting and now I will have to go about finding green beans!

    Oh...I only grinned my beans if I'm using the drip/cone method, otherwise I use capsules for my machine (not the kind you can refill).

    Happy coffee drinking,

  10. I had to come back and take ownership of some very bad typos.

    I definitely "grinned" at how I wrote "grind" - at the time it seemed wrong even though spell check had no problem with it, but my mind was obviously out having coffee - hence the miss!

    Cheers, Jenny