It all started with a delayed flight and a long day of travel. I had nothing to read, so I borrowed a book from my husband, "The Coffee Companion, the Connoisseur's Guide to the World's Best Brews." My first thought was, "Well this one is going to be a snooze" but after chapter one, my cheek had a hook in it and I was slowly being reeled into the world of specialty coffee and coffee roasting. This book gave a good overview of the history of coffee, where and how the best beans are grown and much more.
After researching where to buy the best "green" coffee beans (unroasted coffee beans) from around the world, I found some suppliers online who specialize in smaller quantities of green beans for the home roaster, Sweet Maria's and Seven Bridges Cooperative. We ordered several "single origin samplers" of green coffee beans from around the globe. And so our journey began.
My husband, Mike, and I have been experimenting on the best ways to roast coffee at home. While there are many fabulous yet somewhat pricey home roasters out there (hello Santa), we got started by roasting our beans on a perforated cookie sheet. This method is very basic but works just fine for now, however, a drum roaster would give us much more control over the different stages of roasting... city, full city, and full city plus, etc. We have been roasting roughly a third of a pound at a time which gives us freshly roasted coffee for three or four days, about the life for optimal freshness of roasted coffee.
Wow. This is the BEST coffee I've ever tasted! Every origin has its own nuances and personality. I never knew coffee could be so interesting and captivating. The key is not to over-roast the coffee to the point where it has that "burnt" flavor, you know the flavor that Star***** is known for. Once it has been over-roasted, all coffee tastes the same and its subtleties and flavors are lost. You have to show the bean a little more respect.
If you are fortunate enough to live in a town with its own local coffee roaster, ask them about attending a "cupping" or a coffee tasting. It is a very specific way to taste test many coffees at a time and compare the coffees grown from different origins. You will be enlightened for sure. For example, the coffee shown above is Ethiopia Sidema Deri Kochoha. It tasted of black tea, fig bar, dark chocolate, floral notes, great body and amazing mouthfeel. I know, it sounds a bit like wine tasting lingo only it is much more low key. There is no right or wrong only your personal preferences.
After we roast a batch in the evening, I can hardly wait to get up the next morning and open the jar of beans and stick my nose right in and inhale deeply. Ahhh, now I know what fresh roasted coffee truly is... nirvana.
Home Roasted Coffee
Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Take about 1/3 pound of green coffee beans and spread them out evenly on a perforated cookie sheet. Every two minutes quickly stir so as to promote an even roast. At first things move along slowly but towards the end of the roasting process things happen quickly so it is very important to stay right there with the beans. At approximately 11 minutes into the process (depending on the bean) listen for the "first crack." It is a popping sound that the beans make that is not quite as loud as popcorn popping. Your roasting time will vary depending on your oven, the desired roast, and the bean. We like to pull ours out at approximately 15 - 16 minutes and somewhere before the "second crack." If you hear the second crack you are into a darker roast or a "full city plus" roast. Pour the roasted beans into a colander to cool and swirl them around to help them cool quickly as they will continue to cook. The beans will not smell like the fragrant coffee at this point, not to worry it has to rest for You will see lots of chaff flaking off the coffee beans. Just blow on the beans to help rid them of this. Let your beans cool completely. Store coffee in an airtight glass jar after a few hours. It needs to vent off the CO2. Wait 12 to 24 hours for the coffee to attain its peak.
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