Friday, July 9, 2010

Roasting Green Coffee - Keepin' Em Guessin'

There are some perks to parenting.

When the kids are babies you can make them wear goofy hats that amuse you.

A little older, and you can sucker them into things like matching up all the socks in the white laundry load.

You call it "The Match Patch Game"  and the guy who matches up the most pairs wins... a nickel! Woohoo!

Still  older, and you can do things that keep 'em guessin'

When Collin came home from school a few weeks ago he walked into our kitchen one morning and said two things.

The first was "What is that?"

It seems he was not well acquainted with an air popper.

We've always been oil and an old pan for popping corn kinda people.

I did try once to convert the guys.

It didn't fly.

No amount of persuasion could convince them that they were better off with popcorn that tasted like cardboard. 
Really, I tried.

The second thing Collin said was accompanied by a sympathetic shaking of his head.

"You just never know what you'll find when you come home.  Really guys?  Popping your coffee?"

So of course we sensed an opportunity and went for the...

"Well ya!  Of course!"

Like duh.

Gotta keep em guessin'.

I've always been inordinately amused by doing the unexpected.

Ask my mom.

She'll tell ya.

I found Sweet Maria's and their plethora of coffee nerd stuff.

There's a whole coffee library where you can waste  spend hours educating yourself about coffee, coffee roasting, and equipment.

Fast forward to a few months ago and we could resist the nerdiness no longer.

This was our latest order:

The differences in color and flavor are fascinating.

One of the really cool things about Sweet Maria's is that you can read about each coffee and the farms they come from.

I love that.

This time around we ordered (from top to bottom)

We have an amazing amount of fun learning about the differences in climate, roast recommendations, and flavors.

Go ahead and be sad for us if you want.

We understand.

Sweet Maria's recommends storing green beans in cloth bags that can breathe.

We take the labels off the plastic bags they ship in and tie them on so we can easily choose what variety we want to roast up.

The simplest (and cheapest) version of roaster is an air popper.

Our first one croaked but I easily found this one at a thrift shop.

There seems to be some difference in roasting time.

We're not sure yet whether that was due to a different heating mechanism or the different beans we roasted.

More testing will be needed.

Anyone for a coffee tasting?

The main thing to look for according to the information sheet (some listing of brands there too) is this sort of interior venting on the popper:
Don't even try this if yours has the screen thingie in the bottom as most of them do now.  It won't work.

There are even web pages by people who modify their poppers.

It's a crazy coffee nerd world out there.

Be very afraid.

Today we are roasting the Ethiopia Organic Shakiso Sidamo "Maduro"

We generally roast about a third of a cup at a time.

Get the popper heated up and dump.

We replace the butter cup with this little glass bowl for two reasons.

1) We can see better.
2) We're not partial to the smell of heating plastic.

We like to roast near the sink and just let the chaff blow into the sink but this new popper doesn't have a long enough cord so we have to use a bowl to catch the chaff during the roasting.

There are also information sheets about roasting levels.  We do it by sound and color.

I would never want to be too scientific about it.

That takes away some of the magic for me.

I just watch for color and go with it.

Rich, however, loves scientific perfection.

He sets timers, listens for the first and second "crack".  The whole deal.

His, of course, are much more consistent.

But I'm sure mine are magical....somehow.

The description for this Ethiopian variety said we should look for "quakers" and remove them after the roasting.
So I had to Google "quakers" to find out what exactly we were supposed to be finding.

They are apparently unripe beans that do not turn dark when roasted.

You can see a few there on the pan that we picked easily enough.

They say you should leave the roasted beans exposed to air in order to vent the CO2 for about the first twelve hours and then store them in air tight containers. 

It is recommended to roast no more than about 5 days' worth for the best flavor and freshness.

As it turns out, this is all way more entertaining that I thought it would be.

Which may or may not mean that I am way more nerdy than I thought.


Contemplating nerdiness and the wonders of keepin' em guessin',


Friday, July 2, 2010

Summer Garden Update

This is my favorite part of the gardening year.

More plants than weeds.

AND I have babies!  Lookeee:

Even though I still feel guilt over the whole green plastic thing it seems to be working well.

The zucchini already looks much happier than last year.

And I have high hopes for these Tigger Melons.
I had to replant one batch cause the greedy slugs completely decimated them.

So those will be a little behind.

But still...I have hope people.

How cool would it be to eat garden melons on the Oregon coast?

Chives are flowering and getting thrown into something daily, and the potatoes are about to flower too....yippee.  Almost time for a potato treasure hunt.

Good thing too.  I promised some nephews, who helped plant them, they could help dig them when they returned.

We've got about a week to go before they plan to find some potatoes in those mounds.
Baby Rubine Brussels Sprouts comin along on the right there too.

We pulled the water on the garlic and it's heading toward harvest time as soon as those tops die down a bit more.

Here's a new one for us this year....edamame.  I'm assuming they will look a lot like bush beans.

And another new one...celery...inter planted with lettuce.  
It looks pretty happy but what do I know.

The pole beans seem to be the troublesome crop this year.

This is a replant and waay behind schedule.

Notice the netting? 

Welllll the first batch completely disappeared.

And at first we blamed it on the slugs.

Cause they are usually the big culprit in the garden.

But then we saw a Blue Jay fly over and pull one.

So we apologized profusely to all the local misunderstood slugs (I lie, we never ever apologize to the stooopid slugs) and replanted and netted the pole beans.

They still don't look great but we should have some anyhow but I wouldn't plan on the deluge we had last year.

One really strange thing is that they didn't touch any of the bush beans right next to the pole beans.

Anyone wanna take on that mystery?

Sugar pod peas are goin off.

We pack them in our lunch every day.

And I'm so, so happy to see the sweet peas blooming.

One of the perks of Oregon living is the wild flowers that pop up and claim some territory.

Sometimes they pop up inconveniently and we relocate them. 

But still... I love these even more than the flowers we get in packs and plant.

They all feel like little gifts from God.

Love em, love em.

Got some berry action too.

These are new plants this year and the raspberries still bear the scars of the spring hail and snow and we have to race the blue jays to claim our berries but we are super happy to be seeing these raspberries and strawberries.

Summer is here for reals when we have to put the shade covers over the spinach and cilantro.

And in general things are lookin good.

We always run out of room to plant though.
As soon as the potatoes and garlic come out we'll start up the winter stuff.

And in the greenhouse....

Tomatoes are in our near future.

We go out and encourage them every day.

And infant habaneros:
The stuff that looks like concrete is diatomaceous earth it's our first line of defense this year against the aphids that plagued our greenhouse last summer.

It's an abrasive, pumice like powder that we mix with water and spray on. It basically cuts up soft bodied insects.

So far we are winning. 

I'll keep ya posted.

Cucumbers are a bit behind.   They got the axe the first time around from the slugs so this is a replant.

And the fruit trees....

fuzzy baby peaches...

baby apples

and a few baby Asian pears....they look pretty sparse again this year. They get fussy about late hail.

Our early blueberries didn't take to the harsh spring weather very well either but these later types are doing well.

I hope you all have big plans for the holiday weekend.

I for one, will be livin it up.

Putting in a new back door...OK holding stuff for Rich while he puts in a new door,  getting the house ready for a new coat of paint,  picking peas.

I know....I'm tryin not to make you all jealous here.

But hey... my glass is totally half full so it's gonna be a great weekend.

It will absolutely involve ocean views and red wine so how can that be bad?

Whatever you do with yours live it up eh?