Phillip and I have decided to take our love of joe to the next level.
We bought a roaster from Sweet Marias. OK, so it’s nothing major, but we dropped a little dough and bought this little toy to try our hand at home roasting. We purchased a sampler of green beans with it. Friends and family, if you are interested in “testing” our new roasts, leave a comment. ;)
First, a note about home roasting and the value of Sweet Maria’s website. It is an exceptional site full of information for home roasters! I mean, just look at this menu!
Pretty cool, huh?
Sweet Maria’s guides you through all the ins and outs of coffee roasting. After some roasting, I looked into how to make coffee blends, because it seems like that’s what every coffee roaster does. Here’s what I discovered (long quote, but worth it):
“Blending is done for several reasons. Presumably, the goal is to make a coffee that is higher in cup quality than any of the ingredients individually. But high quality arabica coffee should be able to stand alone; it should have good clean flavor, good aromatics, body and aftertaste. So one reason coffees are blended in the commercial world might be the use of lower-quality coffee in the blend. Another reason might be to create a proprietary or signature blend that leads consumers to equate a particular coffee profile with a particular brand image; consumers don’t often call Starbucks by the origin names used in the coffee but simply as “a cup of Starbucks” as if the dark carbony roast tastes were somehow exclusive to that brand. Coffees are also blended to attain consistency from month to month and crop year to year. This is done with major brands that do not want to be dependent on any specific origin flavor so they can source coffee from various (or the least expensive) sources and attain a consistent flavor. Such blends generally reduce all the coffees included to the lowest common denominator.”
So, I don’t think our goal is to create coffee blends at all, just to stick with learning how to roast single origin coffee the best we can.
We purchased the Fresh Roast SR500. It’s small, similar in size to a coffee pot or a popcorn maker. In fact, it functions just like a popcorn maker, using hot air to roast the beans. Larger, more industrial style coffee roasters are often gas powered and now even using infrared technology to roast the beans.
The next most important tool, so I’ve read, but not actually tested the difference yet, is your grinder. I’ve written about the importance of using a burr grinder in an earlier post.
Phillip and I are both avid coffee drinkers, but for some reason neither of us has ever learned the difference between coffee origins (like Guatamala versus Sumatra) and the different roasts (French and Italian). I used to scan the selection of beans from Trader Joes and not know what I was looking for, other than a coffee that was dark and full of flavor. I’d imagine it’s easy to go your whole life without ever knowing the differences.
Our love affair with coffee, fed by the fact that it is a common interest between the two of us, has bloomed into an ever increasing search for knowledge about the second largest traded commodity in the world next to oil. It’s been encouraged along the way by things like the Chemex, to which I was introduced by a good friend and single origin coffee, thanks to Ritual and Four Barrel in San Francisco, two local roasters we visited in San Francisco on our honeymoon. Slowly but surely we’ve gotten here, to buying our own home roaster and seeking to understand all there is to know about coffee. Along with our roaster, we also got a variety pack of green beans from Sweet Marias. We’ve been making our way through the different beans, roasting to different lengths and looking for flavors.
Below is a picture of a peaberry. Normally a coffee berry has two beans inside, but once in a while only one will develop into a bulb shaped single bean with no flat side. This is a peaberry.
When I make a pot of coffee with my Chemex, this is how it makes me feel.
Like brewing beer or drinking fine wine, there are always gadgets and gizmos galore! How much you want to geek out about coffee is up to you. Phillip and I have definitely chosen the coffee geek path. We have a number of other coffee purchases on the horizon. One being Chemex’s new best friend, the Kone. Only, it’s $60! What? Did I just say $60? OK, it will be a while before we are able to buy this…
Another great product is the Clever Coffee Dripper. Might I say, a much more affordable product too.
“It differs from a normal filtercone by way of a stopper added to the bottom: water only drains once the filtercone is placed onto a cup. This design features more durable plastic, and is easy to disassemble for cleaning. In essence, the Clever Coffee Dripper combines the best features of French press and filter drip brewing, eliminating the drawbacks of each. With French press brewing, you have control over steeping time, but heat loss and sediment in the cup can be a problem. Brewing with a paper filter is easy and convenient; the problem is lack of control over steeping time (i.e. the coffee begins to drain immediately). By adding a stopper to the filtercone, the Clever Coffee Dripper combines control over steeping time with a sediment-free cup. We call this a “full immersion brewing” method.”
It seems that coffee culture is blooming, pun intended, and I’m really excited that Starbucks is finally taking a back seat. It will always sell a ton of coffee, but now really great freshly roasted coffee is soon to be had everywhere! Similar to the home-brewing movement, knowledgeable consumers will seek out good cups of coffee.
We didn’t know about this farmers market when in San Fransisco, but this would definitely be worth the stop. Pour over coffee and everything! http://jessgibbsphotography.com/2008/cities/ferry-plaza-farmers-market-san-francisco/