I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but we may not have hockey for a while. What’s a blogger to do? You may have seen some of my previous posts about my other hobby, homebrewing. I’ve recently (read: today) gotten into home coffee roasting, and I thought I’d share my experience because…well, why the hell not!?
I bought my coffee roasting setup from the same place I get all my homebrewing stuff. It’s a website called MoreBeer! and their storefront in Riverside is right near where I work. Very friendly and knowledgeable guys. I bought the cheapest starter kit they offer, which is actually just a modified Whirley Pop Popcorn roaster. The only modification is a small hole drilled in the top to fit a thermometer. It’s a very simple setup, and the roasting is done on the stovetop. Here’s a photo of the gear:
I have never made my own popcorn so I had to take just a quick second to figure out the contraption. It’s just got a crank that spins the tines (you can barely see one there inside the pot) so you can turn the beans while you’re roasting them so they don’t scorch. The theory goes it’s an idiot-proof setup, and even a moron could figure it out. That theory was put to the test…
The beans I chose to roast first are “Brazilian Pulped Natural” and the description from the shop is as follows: “Soft fruity vanilla in aroma. Light acidity and medium body. Fruity roundness with a slightly nutty and buttery fullness. Awesome!” I had been reading up on the process and seemed confident enough to give it a try. I was shooting for a medium roast, and started with about 1/2 pound for my first try. Here is the BEFORE shot of the green coffee:
PROCEDURE: I heated the pot to 400 degrees with nothing in there, it didn’t take more than about seven minutes. Then I dumped in the beans and started the clock. I was very surprised that the temperature dropped very rapidly to about 350, and even a little below that, closer to 325. The beans must have sapped A LOT of that heat right off the bat. I had to goose the flame up to just over medium heat to try to get that temperature up to roasting (I was shooting for a roasting temp of 375.) Next time I will probably go to 425 or 450 even before I throw in the beans.
After about three minutes, the temp got up above 350 again. The whole point to coffee roasting is to listen to the “first crack” and “second crack” where the beans actually make popping noises, not dissimilar to popcorn. After about 5 or 5 1/2 minutes I was pretty confident I was at the first crack. The beans were still a little green and I was shooting for a medium roast. I ended up stopping at the 8:00 minute mark. The smell was definitely pungent–it actually smelled a little burned but I figured I hadn’t actually burned the beans…that’s just what the normal smell is. I quickly moved the beans to a strainer and aired them out. Next time I will see what I can do to get the temperature down more rapidly–as in homebrewing, they are at their most vulnerable while they are cooling down like that. Bacteria are most likely to start growing, and oxidation is most likely to occur. I need to read up more on it, but I believe there is a way to sort of just spray water on the beans to cool them down.
All in all, the whole process took around 20 minutes, 30 with clean-up. The pot did not get much of any residue on it, and was very easy to wipe down and then scrub out.
I will be grinding these up starting probably tomorrow morning, so I’ll update this post and give my thoughts on how it tastes. I will be interested in different recipes in the future, this is just a straight roast with nothing extra. My favorite kind of coffee is a vanilla french roast, so I’ll probably try to roast with real vanilla beans sometime.
Thanks for reading, and please follow me on Twitter @Hashtag_Hockey. Here’s a good song to have a cup of java and groove to.