For the Love of Coffee

Green beans from Sweet Maria'sI recently wrote about things I have learned from taking a part time job in retail. However, something very important was left out of that post, because it’s a topic so large there are several websites, books and documentaries dedicated to it. I’m talking about coffee.

Working in a coffee shop with high quality standards meant that I was sent to Stumptown Coffee Roasters for training. Having been a passionate consumer of the brown brew for years, I used to make home espresso (until I wore my machine out, got it replaced and wore it out again), and I’d even experimented with roasting my own a couple of times. But now I was getting some professional training, along with knowledge about how the coffee bean behaves during roasting, storing, grinding and brewing.

Suddenly, I felt my interest in coffee surge. I had to know more. I started with Google, read articles at first, about regions and processing methods. Then I lurked in online forums, where other newbie enthusiasts were asking the same questions I had. Finally, I found myself reading reviews of home roasters. To be completely honest, I went so far as to begin reading about commercial roasters, before realizing I had gone too far.

Really, I just want to learn how to do it right, and come up with a few blends that tickle my tastebuds in just the right ways. It’s the kind of thing that takes both studying the beans, experimentation and practice.

Here is how I did it the first couple of times: first, I put the beans into a pre-heated oven, and stirred them up as much as possible without losing too much heat. I would wait for the “first crack” to end, pull the beans and cool them off. Embarrassingly primitive as this technique is, I did get some decent (if very unevenly roasted) cups of coffee out of it. Obviously, if you want a perfect, evenly roasted cup (which I do), this is not the way to do it.

Actually purchasing a roaster is a bit outside my reach at the moment (this is the kit I want). That said, I was so enthused by doing all the research, that I ended up ordering a couple of bags of green coffee beans I want to taste. I can’t wait to get started, and to share some of my experiences, successes and failures in coffee roasting.

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