Monday, November 14, 2011

Roasting coffee - a do-it-yourself method

We try to grow as much as we can of what we eat; if now grow then buy locally; if not locally available then buy fair trade and organic.  Coffee falls into this latter category.  Some would not consider roasting coffee to be a vital homesteading skill, but we have found it to be quite useful (operating a bed and breakfast and having at least one person in the household who enjoys coffee every day).  There are loads of fair trade, organic and shade-grown coffee brands available at health food stores, Ten Thousand Villages, most cafes, and even some grocery chains by now, and here in town we also have a few local roasteries that provide freshly roasted coffee beans. 

However, we have the do-it-yourself mentality and are always eager to learn new skills, so we set about learning how to roast good coffee (on a shoe-string budget, i.e. without buying an expensive home roaster).  Friends who have lived in various parts of Africa showed us the best way to roast coffee in a cast iron pan over the fire, but about two years ago we came across another interesting way to roast coffee - in the hopper of an electric popcorn maker.  We promptly found a used popcorn maker at the local thrift sore, and tried it out.  So simple, with great results!  Roasting coffee sends chaff flying everywere so it's wise to do it outdoors.  Depending on the roast you want, it can take from about 5-20 minutes, until the beans are crackling, dark and oily.  The smell is delicious!   Our popcorn maker takes a maximum of 110 grams of beans, and you need to stir occasionally to even out the roast.  Then let the beans cool in a collander, and voila, incredible home-roasted coffee.  We buy our beans green through a local friend who is directly involved with farmers in Guatemala through a project called Cafe Justicia.  They also sell their coffee roasted and ground, in various places here in town.

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