Coffee Roasting (expt 1)

Sumatra (decaf)
I started roasting coffee recently. Click here for the larger size; very cool shot. Unfortunately, looks better than it tasted. I chose a Sumatra decaf green bean from Yeah, me too on Indianola (Columbus, OH) for starters. For roasting equipment I used an unmodified Hamilton Beach Poppery II (scored for $2.99 from Ebay) and roasted 1/2 cup of green beans for 10 minutes.

I conducted this outside at about 50 deg-F for a timed 10 minutes. Despite the satisfying color of the roasted beans, I think I under roasted them. After roasting them, I cooled them in a cast iron pan (to dissipate the residual heat; halting the roasting by removing residual heat is supposed to be effective) and waited a couple hours before grinding them for a cup of brew in my drip machine.

The final coffee had nice color, reasonable taste, but was a tad winey-tasting. I suspect they were a tad underdone. I also spoke to some friends about my results and they agreed the ambient outdoor temperature* was too low to get a good rich roast outside in only 10 minutes.

I'll be trying this again soon. It's fun, Frankie likes to watch and the final results are never wasted. I think I just need a more reliable endpoint to shoot for. The first crack was faint and barely detected and I don't even know if I made it to the second crack.

Results will be disclosed as experiments continue.

*I did this outside because of warnings from friends about big plumes of smoke when the beans start to achieve a dark roast. I never noticed this. Again, possibly indicative of too cold an environment to get the full roast.

Update 08-Jan-07
I repeated the roasting indoors (ambient temp ca. 64-deg-F for a full 12 minutes. I was hearing the second crack when I stopped the roasting (first crack around 5-6 minutes). Dumped the batch (1/2 C) into cast iron and it was all shiny and dark. Here's the final product. Tasted as good as it looked.


Come hither our victim

Sadly, it's winter and the end of fresh herbs from the garden (sage seems to be surviving still). We saw this cool mini-christmas-tree looking rosemary plant the other day at Whole Paycheck Foods and decided to take it home.

And subject it to a slow, mold-induced death.

Ideally, we'd like it to thrive indoors until spring and maybe even have some to harvest for our focaccias and roasted roots. But, we don't have good luck with these things. They generally look ok for a couple weeks. Inevitably, mold sets in and it's just a matter of time from that point.

So, if anyone has luck wintering these things, shoot me some advice via the comments. I'll keep you posted on its "progress". Currently, it's a week old and it has a surprising amount of new growth. I'm afraid to water it.

Time of death, early december.


Pizzas: Kneadless Expts.

In a previous post, I tried some focaccia dough using a kneadless technique to make the dough. It's from this book No Need to Knead and I thought it was a perfect application for a focaccia dough.

This night, I decided to take the same dough, divide it into two 250 g lumps and make pizzas out of it using 9" cake pans. My usual pizza prep involves fairly extensive kneading of the dough. But, I'm a wicked busy parent and looking for any possible way to get good food to the table in a shorter amount of time. I thought this expt. would be pretty fun too.

I made the dough as in the previous focaccia, post, divided it, plopped each lump into a 9" cake pan (dark, non stick), topped them with pureed tomatoes, oregano, good mozzarella, salt, pepper and tossed them in a 450-deg-F oven (middle) for 15 minutes.

Crust was, like the focaccia, soft, not too chewy, cooked well all the way through (kind of a thick crust), and tasty but far, far from the robust crust of a well-kneaded dough.

My next foray into this kneadless stuff will be tonight when I apply the method to our night's baguette; a very lean dough (it's bread, cheese and salad night in our household). I'll post results.

Now vote, damnit.


Roasting soon

I'm racing up the stairs from lunch the other day and mention to a guy who I know who roasts his own coffee that I'm going to start doing the same soon. First words out of his mouth was a recommendation to get green beans from Sweet Maria's.

The web will never cease to amaze me in it's breadth, but in every niche, there's a surprisingly limited vocabulary that's used. Almost everyone who does this sort of thing knows Sweet Maria's and also knows the Hamilton Beach Poppery II is one of the best hot air poppers to use as a primitive roaster and it does a darn good job. And, there's about a million people who've modified these things to fine tune the roasting process ... another post.

I also got a tip that in some way, the proprietor of the Columbus coffee shop Yeah, me too (on Indianola) is in someway related to Sweet Maria's and their beans pass muster with the best of them.

All I need now is a burr grinder and I'm ready for coffee heaven.