Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Coffee Time

Buck, June, Jake and I have, over the years, forged a tradition of "coffee time". It has become a family ritual to sit down, regardless of what we are wrapped up in or where we are and make time to come together and have a moment of pure togetherness. This has even extended to times when we are in different places, states or countries, whether we Skype each other to have coffee in cyberspace together or text a simple "Happy Coffee Time!" on our cell phones.

When we are together, Coffee Time only lasts about 30 minutes, at the end of which
we usually have to jump up and continue on our way, but it is the most joyous half hour one could hope for. We usually have a little sweet thing to go with our coffee or tea and cut it into several small nibbles to share.

In the beginning it centered around the actual consumption of good coffee. We have compiled quite a list of favorite coffee shops. We have ourselves practiced and perfected many styles of coffee drinks ourselves with moka pots and a couple different espresso machines. We are all proficient at cappuccinos- dry and wet, lattes, soy lattes, short pulls, long pulls, "what am I doing wrong?" pulls. But over time "coffee time" has morphed through different dietary needs and practicalities of the moment, into being less about coffee and more about a family ceremony of being fully present, appreciative of the small joys in life and basking in good, loving company.

Lately I have been looking into widening my coffee independence. I recently found this great old hand cranked coffee grinder at the thrift store and I have adjusted it to produce a very decent espresso grind.

 It has inspired me to see how far I can take the Homesteader spirit when it comes to our coffee. I have decided to try roasting my own coffee beans. It will be a very fun science experiment and it is also much more economical. Green coffee beans can be bought for about $2.50 a pound and the shelf life of green coffee beans is about two years, as long as they are not roasted. I don't know if I will get to be an expert but I'm sure I can, with practice, produce a  roast we will  be happy with. Although I have to admit that my one and only attempt at roasting coffee about a year ago, ended up being the top mulch on my potted lemon tree.

I know a lot more now and I am doing more research before I waste anymore beans. It was good to try though, because afterwords I had a better idea of what I was up against.

I grabbed up my camera the other day and filmed a friend of mine roasting his coffee with a heat gun and bread maker. It is very economical albeit a little loud. Here is a little impromptu video of his process.

After a lot of research I will buy some more green beans and begin the practicing. I haven't chosen a method yet but I have a feeling I will go with the lowest tech method I can find. I would like to keep things simple. Off the grid would be even better.


  1. I absolutely love this. What a great tradition. Really, I think we all need to take a break and regroup on a regular basis. And what better way than with coffee.

  2. I've slowly convinced Robin to join the dark side and drink coffee. Making a time and tradition for it sounds like a great idea for couples.

    As I've become more of a coffee drinking I've become interested in starting further up the chain too. Roasting your own beans would be really cool. I've always heard that thrift store hot-air popcorn poppers are a cheap way to get started, but in the summer in Oregon I'd love to have a solar roaster. You can see the concept here: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2005/11/solar_powered_c.php Home Power issue 105 has more complete plans.

  3. Lee, I finally had time to look at that solar roaster! Wow I would love to do something like that. I love the idea of solar in general but the start up cost is what always gets me. I know that theoretically it pays for itself, but then what if a limb hits the array or some problem pops up that I can't fix and I have to hire a repair person...
    I did buy a popcorn popper for modding and trying to roast but it turns out you can only do about a 1/3 of a pound per batch. That will never do. I need a way to do a pound a week.
    I think for my coffee roasting I'm going to try the BBQ or fire pit and a rotating basket or something. Maybe I could train the dogs to turn it?


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