Wednesday, February 17, 2010

HOMEROAST! How to Roast Coffee at Home

This blog has a true DIY quality to it (Exhibit: A, B, C, D, E, F, and so forth). Ruby is full of ideas! Our kitchen adventures have lessened with the departure of our industrious vegan housemates (save the mulled wine a reefer deserts at Yuletide 2009), still behold a quick and easy instructional on roasting raw coffee beans at home. Pete found Sweet Maria's website to guide us through our first roast. It covers the gamut of small batch roasting techniques.

This is how we do it:

STEP ONE: Gather raw green coffee beans (found at hippy stores like Rainbow or online - preferably Fair Trade Certified) kitchen scale, hot air popcorn popper (we used a Goldstein Family heirloom), pasta strainer, and a bowl. Open nearby window.

STEP TWO: Measure the raw green beans on scale (4 oz.).

STEP THREE: 4 oz. was too much for our popper so we poured about half of that amount into the machine, as if we were popping corn.

STEP FOUR: Turn popper on (ours has no on/off switch - just plug in/out). Expect smoke! Chaff (flakes of bean skin) will blow out of the popper. It takes about 3 minutes for the "first crack" to sound. Then keep it going for 1 to 2 minutes, depending on desired roast. According to Sweet Maria's, use 4 minutes total for a lighter roast and continue for up to 6.5 minutes for the darkest roast.

STEP FIVE: Pour the brown beans into the pasta strainer and shake to cool the beans and to also filter any remaining chaff.

STEP SIX: Let the beans settle (emit CO2) for several hours. The flavor peeks between hour 4 and 24 after the roast. Coffee will stay fresh for 5 days.

We also made a video (notice the abundant chaff!):

It's funny for me to work with coffee. It has been up in my grill for a while but I had never really thought about it until now. My three best SF buds Christy, Laura, and Shriii each work at major Mission coffee houses. It's all coffee all the time! In 2005 spent three grant-funded months in the outskirts of Bochil in Chiapas, Mexico, working at an indigenous coffee cooperative. I was there helping with preparations for Organic and Fair Trade Certification. 104 local families comprise the cooperative. They work their ancestral land to harvest, roast, and distribute coffee to the developed world. The co-op is self-governed and each member family gets a share of its contribution. Environmental factors compound the tense political, economic, and military conditions, presenting constant life-or-death challenges to the organization. Yet they make it happen with an overwhelming sense of dignity. It was sort of a funny time for me so I tend to stick the experience to the back of my mind. But our roasting project brought back warm memories of all of the friends I made in Bochil. Strange: nothing like a little Sunday morning hangover DIY project to strengthen a gal's interconnectivity with humankind. Sheesh.

I close this post with some never before seen photos of the cooperative:

Heading with some co-op cafeterleros to their mountain parcels for pre-harvest inspections

Each parcel of land has a family behind it and a share of the profits - this was quite the task for your dyslexia-prone, technology-favoring yanki

Each bean hand inspected for quality before roasting

Good beans (right) vs bad beans (left)

Work hard/play hard: every family member chips in to the effort

The schnazzy roaster!

Green beans in....

...Brown beans out

Jaja! (well technically not since '86)

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