Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Adventures of Coffee Roasting

I drink a lot of coffee. I have a coffee pot in my office and it gets used on a daily basis. I used to drink Starbucks but they are expensive and why should I pay someone to do something that I can burn myself. For Christmas I was gifted with a whirley-pop, thermometer, timer and green coffee selection from Sweet Mara's. ( If you want an excellent place to begin to gather information and necessary materials on roasting Sweet Maria's is it.) Home roasting with the Whirly-Pop method is actually one of the cheapest and hardest methods. It's really hard to manage the heat and the learning curve is pretty brutal. You basically have to accept off the cuff that the first 6 or so batches of coffee have the distinct potential to be undrinkable as one attempts to nail amount of time necessary, temperature adjustment, how fast to crank, etc.
I am also blessed to be friends with Jon Beall who, by many accounts, is typically a fairly jovial man but very serious and knowledgeable about the process of understanding and roasting coffee. He also uses the Whirly-Pop method, is on his third 'popper' and roasts about 6 lbs. of coffee a week.
FIRST BATCH: (Sat 3/21/10) Roasted 12 oz of . After talking with Jon and looking at the images here I realize that I actually have just about every single color of bean after Full City+ though there were not too many fully burnt but the expresso roast was in evidence. The major reason for this is that I roasted straight through first crack and pulled the beans right as second crack was beginning. Second crack is for really dark roasts which the Whirly Pop doesn't do particularly well. (Click here for a glossary of roasting/coffee terms) Thankfully the coffee is not that terrible actually. It's just not great.
Images follow:

Apologies for the very dumb serious expression. Instead focus on the T-shirt. Yes that is the official gear of the amateur/fanboy coffee roaster.

First roast still green

The setup:

Beans just out of the popper into the colander. If you click on the picture you can zoom in and see the different textures of the beans-bah.Finished Product:
Cracking this jar open for the first time has an uncomparable smell-amazing.

SECOND BATH: Wednesday 3/24/10 Roasted 1 lb. of Columbian. I preheated to 400 degrees but when I poured the beans in the temperature dropped to 250 which is a really big step backwards and I didn't get first crack until about 8-9 minutes and I kept the beans on the heat until about 11 minutes and that was too long. I have a more consistent roast this time as more of the bean fall into the Full City range but there' s a lot more in the Full City+ range and a little beyond.
Need to preheat hotter next time. I definitely did not hit second crack though which is good. I also used a fan to 1) cool the beans and blow the chaff away.

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