Sunday, July 27, 2014

Tostada Granos y Bliss

Here is my first post about one of my most rewarding hobbies: coffee roasting.

I started drinking coffee in college. I tried coffee as a teenager, but never really liked the stuff that my parents would buy from the store. Mostly this was your regular low quality brand. Sometimes they would buy Kona blends, and almost always they bought decaf. A lot of people like Kona, but I don’t, and it wasn’t until much later that I developed a taste for other coffees.

Because I had never really enjoyed coffee, I mostly stuck with mocha drinks if I went to coffee shops with friends. But, somewhere along the way I switched to just drinking regular black coffee. The more I payed attention to it, the more I enjoyed it. I think that is part of why I enjoy it - to fully appreciate coffee it takes time, patience, and focus.

A few years ago I started roasting my own coffee at home. I found an online store that fortunately had a physical store-front in my city.  That store actually specialized in home-brew beer kits, but they also sold coffee for home roasting. I purchased their introductory kit online, and went to the store to get some green coffee beans.

The roasting kit is actually very simple. It is a stove-top whirly pop popcorn maker and a thermometer. That’s it. I punched a hole in the top of the popcorn maker with a corkscrew so I could insert the thermometer. The thermometer itself is actually pretty special - it goes up to 500 F. I’ve never seen one in a store, although they must exist. If you look for a thermometer like this you will probably find candy thermometers, but that isn’t what this is. This one is thin and more like a meat thermometer that goes up to 500 F. It’s actually quite important for the process.

Anyways, I ended up getting some green coffee beans from that store and I dumped them into the popcorn popper pot and started roasting. The first thing I noticed was steam! Lots of steam! And then smoke! Lots of smoke! and then chaff! Lots of chaff! It was a bit of a mess. And it was delicious. The aroma of freshly roasted coffee is intoxicating.

Since I started roasting my own coffee I have learned a lot more about what goes into a good cup. I bought a book and started reading it; although I still haven’t actually finished it. I may write more about coffee roasting in the future, including my dreams for running my own cafĂ©, but this time I just wanted to say . . .

I miss coffee roasting!!!!

Since living in Chile, I haven’t been able to roast my own coffee. That’s mostly because I don’t know anyone who sells green coffee beans. There is one decent coffee roaster here in Concepcion, and he wouldn’t sell me green beans. I was/am very disappointed. There are many things I miss about the US, and coffee roasting is probably number 3 on the list (the first two being a person and a cat).

You can probably already tell that I enjoy coffee from my chosen background image for this blog. Although, I have to say that that is a sorry-looking batch of roasted coffee. My coffee comes out much more evenly. You can see in the background image that some beans are barely roasted at all, while others are charred. tsk tsk.

I’ve included an image of some coffee that I roasted a long time ago (and subsequently ground up, soaked in hot water, and drank to my delight). Le sigh. I miss good coffee. Also, I am including an image of an antique coffee grinder that I saw in an historical German house outside the town of Frutillar in the south of Chile. Both are original photos, so . . . copyright me?

Until next time, chao!

Kyle D Hiner

Coffee-Roaster Extraordinaire

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