Friday, August 24, 2007

Try, Try Again

"For the last thirty years, he'd been alone but for his dogs, yet he had not become eccentric as did most people whose primary relationships were with their pets." -from Twilight Eyes, Dean Koontz
ACK! Direct hit! Losing cabin pressure! Taking on water! Aaaaggghh, I just read this yesterday!! And by a guy who gives the hero in almost every one of his, what, fifty books, a golden retriever so that he can assign multiple pages to praising these dogs. The pot is calling the kettle black, but it doesn't mean the kettle ISN"T black. There is no denying it. But I can stop if I want to! See, no kitty pictures at all today!
I was thinking the other day about wine connoiseurs. I just don't know how they can tell what's a good wine and what's a wine that comes in a cardboard box. In a blind taste test, I mean. And then I realized: I am a GIANT coffee snob! I can tell if it's been sitting for over half an hour, if it was made in unclean equipment, if it's burnt, and of course if it shared a container that was EVER used for that flavored crapola. I can tell you that a french press makes a fabulous brew, and that hand poured through a single serving filter has to be done very precisely: pour half cup of hot water through for the "sweet", then the other half for the bitters, and you have yourself a hell of a cup. So, wine drinkers must really dig the stuff, and while I enjoy it, it's far from an everyday thing like coffee.
Then I started thinking about how the fresher the roast, the better, and I really ought to give home roasting another shot. Plus I'm cheap, and green coffee beans cost half as much. So I gave it a whirl, and it went much better this time. Still not perfect, but, well, practice and all that. It's funny, I thought you would bake the beans, but actually you fry 'em.

The beans, when green, keep as well as rice, so you can store them a long time. Good to know in case I'm ever stocking a bomb shelter, 'cause you KNOW I aint closin' the hatch with out my coffee! This is how the pionneers did it, and that just makes it even cooler (green beans, not bomb shelters, HA!). However, attempting to get your campfire to 475 degrees would be trying. Especially since you wouldn't have had your coffee yet. I have an electric stove and I had trouble, sheesh. I started at 6, but by seven minutes the crack hadn't happened, so I turned it up to 7, which I think I'll start it on next time.

The crack is when the beans suddenly start popping, like the sound of a pencil snapped in two. Perhaps named after the "crack" of dawn by grumpy settlers? Oh yeah, and you have to constantly stir them, seriously, DON"T STOP. This is to try to get an even a roast as possible.

The beans start shedding a papery skin, called chaff, and within a minute or three after the crack, when they're what ever color you like, they're done. Less time makes lighter, more acidic roasts, longer makes darker roasts. I should warn you, when you hit the crack, haha that sounds funny, these suckers start SMOKIN'. Heavy, billowy smoke, so you'll want the kitchen window open and the hood fan on. Unless you're at your campfire. At this point it starts smelling a lot less like hay. That's what they smell like when green. Weird.

Now, when the beans are the color you like (this is maybe medium light) and you turn the stove off, you're gonna want to cool them off fairly quickly, or they will keep cooking. And you'll want to get rid of the majority of the chaff. This was fun for me, and it's quick and easy. I turned on a fan outside (you don't want this stuff blowing through your house) and poured the beans back and forth between the pot and a colander, in front of the fan. The chaff blew away after just a few transfers, and the beans were cooled. Like threshing wheat, cool, huh. Now, you can grind them right away, but it's recommended that for optimum flave, and that's sooo what my snobby taste buds are after, that you wait for 24 hours for the excess CO2 to dissipate. Yeah, that's what I'm gonna call it next time I pass gass. My CO2 was just dissipating. Not that I do that.

One other thing: set aside a special pot for this. I got some sweet Cuisinart pots for my birthday and wasn't going to designate one for coffee, so a nine dollar Kmart pot will have to do. Unless you like that flavored stuff. Then you might as well use your top ramen pot, make some new kinds of flavored coffee. Yeeek! Well, there yah go. Didn't even mention my kitties (that so doesn't count).


jill said...

Anyone who can write five paragraphs about roasting coffee AND use the word crapola in a sentence, is a friend of mine. And I'm still so happy Maggie came home. Oh, and, I am a certified wine snob and I still like wine in cardboard boxes. I had a wonderful red (cab/shiraz blend) from TARGET tonight that was fabulous!

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Teryn said...

I so want to do that. I was reading about using an air popcorn popper to roast coffee the other day -- have you tried that? Fresh coffee sounds so yummy -- I wish coffee didn't make me crazy(er) :)

Anonymous said...

love the CO2 dissapation thang!!!!!!!!! wish i could drink more than 1/4th cup o jo with out going coo-coo (like teryn), cuz it sure is a wonderful thing....

i said hot damn in play practice yesterday, oooopppppsssss, they forgive me for some reason, guess they know i'm not very well tamed.... good thing i can keep a lid on the g n f words!!!!!!!!!!

see you soon sweetthing, lov mum