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',


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