I *heart* roasting
Pierre and I met because of coffee. We spent a month emailing each other talking about coffee and only coffee. From favorite coffee shops to our then leaky coffee machines. It turned out that he was much more hardcore about coffee than I ever was. Not only did he make a fantastic and beautiful coffee at home that, I boast, would trump many Seattle coffee shops, he roasts his own coffee beans as well. I started learning how to make coffee from him. Last week, since he went out of town and the snow just kept on falling since he left, I decided that roasting my own coffee was the only way to get some roasted beans.
I had watched Pierre roasting. He made me read the Dietrich roasting instruction manual from front to back. After three hours of careful study, despite all the questions unanswered, I decided to take a first crack at it. What is the best way to learn other than making some real mistakes. Well, not all mistakes. I made sure that I wasn’t going to burn the house down so I read the safety tips several times, had a fire extinguisher nearby, and my cellphone on hand so I could dial 911.
The basic idea of roasting coffee is fairly simple, a bit like making popped corn. Constantly stirring is necessary, which is done by the rotating drum in the roaster, to given even heat to all the beans. Like corn, green coffee beans have a hard shell on the outside. Applying heat caramelizes the sugar in the beans. The chemical process of caramelizing sugar gives off CO2 and water (in steam form). At some point, enough heat builds up and cracks the shell of the coffee. Caramelized sugar is not as sweet but roasting is important to get rid of the bitter flavors of coffee. However, too much roasting masts the natural flavor of the coffee and sweetness. Under roasted coffee would taste baked.
So in the end, I didn’t burn down the place. I had a pound of fragrant blend of Ethiopian and Robusta. I only knew that espresso is a blend of different beans but I didn’t know blending happens after roasting, and Robusta is at most about 10% of the blend. Oops.. The roast didn’t taste that great but it was drinkable. I was thrilled to have made a cup of coffee from green beans. The result was more than satisfactory. I enjoy roasting more so than making coffee actually. With so much to learn about different coffee beans and their characteristics, I look forward to a fun-filled journey ahead of me. I can’t wait to share my roasts and coffee with my friends.