Roasting Part Two

Back in October, we began our journey with home style coffee roasting and have since learned a thing or two. The first thing we did after completing our research was select a coffee from Sweet Maria’s, a green coffee supplier our of Oakland, California. To stay loyal to our African preferences, we chose a coffee from Ethiopia- the Agaro Biftu Gudina we mentioned in our original roasting post. The way it turned out was actually really surprising, not because of the quality of the green beans, but simply because we have always been blown away by the craft, quality, and precision that roasters so eloquently introduce into the bags they produce. Overall, our experience was a success. Here is how we did it-

First, we reviewed the 10 stages of roasting, and decided that we wanted to aim for a City Plus Roast (level 6) because we knew that our coffee would do well if we stayed between a City and Full City roast (according to Sweet Maria’s). This level allowed for additional caramelization of the sugars and a migration of the oils; it is also the most popular way to roast coffee. {Pro-Tip: When you are home roasting, try to pick a “harder” green coffee, which will reduce the amount of scorching when compared to a softer coffee. For example, African coffees tend to be harder than Latin American coffees.}

Next, we supplemented our roasting session with a video produced by Thompson, again from Sweet Maria’s. We found this video to be really great for several reasons. One, it was done by someone with incredible knowledge about coffee, but also with a serious investment in this particular sector. Thompson is one of the company’s two co-owners and serves as the overseer of the green coffee. By overseer, I mean that he evaluates all of the new arrivals-be it samples or regular batches- and travels to the individual sources that Sweet Maria’s has it hand in. A second reason that this video added value to our experience was because he made it in such a way that we could read our research post about how to roast coffee, and then roast concurrently with his video for a bird’s eye visual of the process and someone to talk you through it.

Once we got started, we realized that it is best to only do half a pound (or 8-12oz) of beans at a time. Keep in mind that we used a 12-inch iron skillet, so this is likely subject to the diameter of your instrument (assuming you are also employing the iron skillet). By doing this, we were able to keep a better eye on each of the beans (or at least most of them) and have an even layer throughout the area within the pan. Additionally, you should really try to keep the coffee moving at all times. To expand just a bit, we used oven mitts and a wooden spoon. This allowed us to keep stirring the coffee, but also keep it the even layer by shaking it (kind of like sifting for gold, but less muddy). {A Pro-Tip we wanted to share with you is that you will want to have your overhead fan/vent on. This will help you for a variety of reasons (all discussed in Tom’s video). Pro-Tip #3, you will want to keep watch for scorching, which takes place really quickly if your heat source is too hot- this is a mistake we made early on during our first 8 oz of roasting. You can see this take place by paying special attention to the bean’s flat side, which will quickly burn if you are not careful. Finally, Pro-Tip #4: keep your ears open for the sound of the first crack. Once this happens it will not be too long before you will be arriving at your desired roast level.}

After completing the roasting process, we poured our beans onto a cookie sheet so that we could spread them out evenly and remove the chaff. {Pro-Tip: The best way to remove chaff that we have found is to use some sort of sturdy paper or a hand-fan that lets you (go outside for this) waft the paper-like shells away from the pan.} Remember that you do not have to discard all of the chaff, but you should aim for most of it. As it was cooling down, we removed the beans we could tell had been either scorched or were just too far outside of our parameters. This took a bit of time but helped raise the overall consistency. To finish we sealed our coffee in an airtight container, and let it sit overnight. If you do this in the morning and want to try it on the same day, you should wait about 4 hours. Now, all there is left to do is give it a try! Stay tuned in the upcoming weeks for our review about our very own Grounds for Travel coffee!

As always, we hope that you found this article to be helpful and if you have any Pro-Tips or tricks for the GFT community, please leave your thoughts in the box below.

Happy Roasting!