Respect the coffee bean. Simple concept but so many don’t do this. Get to know your beans, where they come from what their flavor profile is, and what roast will really bring that out. Experiment with the green coffee. This is what I will be witnessing over at Buona today (Jan, 02, 2012).
So today I went over to Buona Caffe and picked up some medium roast Ethiopian Sidamo coffee and helped roast some of it. It is not cold today, the winter thus far has been as mild as they come for this part of the country. The jet stream has stayed well north of us.
Today I felt lucky as I could stop by on my day off and try to help out some as opposed to pick it up and fly out the door. One of the things you cannot really delve into unless you are there at the roasting is the smell. The smell permeates everything. The warmth of the roaster, the sounds. When the crack goes, you can definitely hear it. The smell and the visual appearance of the coffee as it roasts, as it comes out. This is a very tactile thing. It is not put it in a roaster for x number of minutes, though I am sure that is how some do it. While yes, one uses a timer, to back up the crack, I think this is where the art starts.
Upon arrival I greeted my gracious hosts, John and Pat. I got there at the same time as a photographer from the Augusta Chronicle. Going in john had a batch in the cooler already. It smelled amazing. After greeting Pat she showed me their new coffee toy, an Aeropress. This is a very interesting little device. I think I recall Pat using 8/10ths of an ounce coffee and there is a fill line on the device. After settling the coffee in she pours in the water. When you are doing this you have to watch to get the water line up to the mark, not the top of the foam. Then she stirs with the provided paddle which is followed by the plunger (I think it was 10 seconds of immersion between stir and plunger). The air pressure really moves it quickly and efficiently. I do not recall the time she took to plunge it. If you have young kids this is a great experiment to demonstrate the principles of air pressure by the way. There is a filter at the bottom of the device that the coffee must go through. This made a nice clean cup of coffee. Then I had a heck of a chat with Pat over coffee. This proves their motto: “Good things happen over good coffee”.
Let us get to the roasting. There were a number of people at the roaster that day. So their roaster is the very roaster that started “Land of a Thousand Hills” coffee. This is a tried and true machine. With the roaster heated up we add the coffee. This was sumatra I think it was, that we put in this time. The coffee roaster was heated up and when the coffee got put in the temperature just plummeted. I mean it dropped through the floor. John times this as well as watches and listens. Just about all your senses are require here. It took a little while but you could see through the front glass that the coffee was starting to get darker. After a while John checked it in the little scoop thing on the front that lets you pull coffee out to check while roasting. This is apparently an easy place for coffee to get stuck so it is good to make sure you check it so you don’t wind up with a green bean in your roasted coffee.
John has been doing this for a while now. He new pretty well spot on when to expect to hear that coffee start to crack. Coffee cracking is something akin to a faint popcorn popping. You do not realize you hear it till you do, but then you recognize you were hearing it longer than you thought. Hopefully that makes sense. We were doing this a dark roast (not a bucks roast, actual dark no charcoal here) so the coffee continues on roasting, the cracking subsides and life continues. At a point in here John shut off the heat to make sure that the coffee doesn’t over cook. Soon the second crack starts and once it is well under way (which is seconds) he opens it up to the cooling tray. This stuff looks like dark chocolate chips, it makes you want to reach in and grab some to snack on. Two things about that though. First, these goodies are over 400 degrees hot, and uh, that would be a catastrophically bad idea, tow, they would not taste like you want. Second they would not taste very good. So avoid the temptation! ;p
He does one thing that took me by surprise, when the beans came out of the roaster and were starting to their cool cycle, he sprayed them with water from a spay bottle. I was taken aback to be sure. I asked him why he was doing that would that not cause moisture problems. Well let us thing about this for a moment, how hot were those beans? Yeah, that water just vaporizes instantly, but it does help kick start the cooling process.
After that batch had cooled long enough we started the Ehtiopian Sidamo he wanted to a light side of medium roast on. I have been asking them about a lighter medium and here was the opportunity to experiment. So we go the beans in and too them to the first crack, just barely. Since this is an Ethiopian there is a natural tendency for bean color to vary some. So there are some outright blondes mixed in there too.
This is going good coffee. I tell you, this is a flavorful roast. I had a clever drip of it yesterday and it was wonderful. I will have one in the morning. I would have tonight but I went to help my son with some homework. I went with 30 grams coffee to 340 grams of coffee, that was a good combo.
I have been focusing a lot on SO coffees (Single Origin), next I will try their blends. They have one called Midnight Oil I will try first. They are developing a couple more blends now I think. I hope they will choose to experiment on me. I like Pat’s method for choosing names. I will leave disclosing that method to her.
Coffee roasting is something you must have a passion for, you cannot do it just to turn out product, you have to do it because you want to, because you love it. John and Pat do.
- Ethiopian Sidamo from Buona Caffe (sanitybycoffee.com)
- Buona Caffe – Goodness in a bag (sanitybycoffee.com)
- Full City, Cinnamon Roast, City, Vienna Roast, Spanish Roast, what? (sanitybycoffee.com)
- Starbucks Christmas Blend, does it lead to Yuletide glee? (sanitybycoffee.com)