Sunday, October 16, 2011

Further Musings on Roasting Coffee

I have roasted about eleven pounds of coffee now, usually a third to a half of a pound per batch, and I'm getting it fine tuned. I have accumulated a few more helpful accessories along the way.
One of them is this really good book from Powell's. I highly recommend it.

I've been keeping notes of each of my roasts in my special notebook. The notes are a bit messy because I tend to get wrapped up in the process. It gets kind of hectic getting the beans out of the oven and cooled. My old digital timer has helped me keep track of the general times for first crack and second crack of each variety. (Coffee beans make a pop like popcorn does when they reach a certain temperature, that's called a "crack"). I am hoping the records will give me a basis for later experimentation. 
I mostly go by smell and color though, since just about every type of bean I have roasted has been different, which makes going by time difficult. Luckily my homemade roaster has a glass door so I can see the beans really well and the heat gun is not very loud so I can hear what's going on with the beans.
My dad found me this awesome copper colander at an estate sale. It has really helped me with cooling the beans down faster. The owner of my new favorite shop, Mr. Green Beans in PDX, was kind enough to help me out with a few subtleties like slowing the roast for a couple of minutes just before the first crack to really supercharge the flavor. I told him I wanted to try to roast a whole pound but didn't want to use a pricey bean just incase my roaster couldn't handle it. He gave me a great deal on a pound of Brazil Peaberry. Later the roasting went fine. It was the cooling that I was not equipped for. The beans kept cooking while I desperately shook them from pan to pan. They were at the brink of undrinkable by the time they got cool. Live and learn.

I have a couple ideas for cooling contraptions, (I am making an evil scientist face as I think about it)  but for now I have started weighing my green beans on a digital kitchen scale before I put them in the roaster.
I've found ten ounces is the most I can get cool in the proper amount of time with my current cooling methods, cold pans.
I have started making tags that I can keep with each type of bean as I go along since I usually roast two or three types at a time and they are hard for me to tell apart once they get roasted.


I am also certain at this point that I will not be roasting indoors if I can help it. It's pretty smokey, there is a lot of chaff blowing around and I always end up spilling a few beans at some point.

Mr. Green Beans also gave me some cloth bags to put my beans in to let them breath for a day or two after I roast them.

Our favorite blend so far has been 50/50 Sumatran Mandheling and Ethiopian Yirgacheffe.  All in all it's been really fun, has saved us a lot of money and we've never drank better coffee. For a Homestead hobby that's hard to beat!
Here is a little video of the process for those who would like to see how it goes. Too bad we don't have Smell-o-vision.

1 comment:

  1. That is so neat. Lee is getting where he is really good a making a cup of coffee. I expect it's only a matter of time before he starts trying to roast his own beans. We go to the store about every week as it is now for fresh beans.


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