Roast Yer Own Coffee

Burnt and not-so coffee beansI’ve done it twice now. Third time’s a charm.

All it takes is some green coffee beans. I got mine at Sweet Maria’s.  And something to roast them with.

You can easily pay $1k for a drum roaster. Or go to discount store and find an air popcorn popper. Look for the kind with vents around the sides of the chamber instead of a screen across the bottom. The former ones work great, but the latter can more easily catch fire.

Friday, I filled my popper up to the “Don’t go past here” line. Then I went out to my laundry room, which is in my garage. I plugged the popper in and turned it off. Soon the room was filling with smoke.

This is normal. This is why you don’t do this in your house. Unless you don’t have smoke detectors, then it’s OK, except for the smell and the fact that you might die in a fire in your sleep. So get smoke detectors and change the batteries regularly!!! And don’t roast coffee beans in your house.

Most Americans prefer a Full City Roast. Or so all the websites tell me. Also the voice from my dishwasher. For a Full City Roast,  you must just get into the 2nd crack. Which means you’re completely past the first crack. Which is really easy, because it sounds like you forgot to put coffee beans into your popcorn popper, and instead put popcorn! Crazy YOU!!!

So Friday, I got past the first crack. All the popping subsided. I waited for the 2nd crack. It’s not supposed to be so loud. So I put my head down near the popper. Smoke was still pouring out. From about five feet above the floor all the way to the ceiling was full of smoke. It’s not really coffee smelling smoke. More wood chippy.

For most folks, somewhere along in here a fine spray of ashes should have blown out from the coffee beans. Originally they’re covered in a paper thin husk, and this gets burned off early and makes a big mess floating around and getting all over everything. But if you really want to do this in your house, be sure to put the batteries back in your smoke detectors when it’s all over. Because I was using water method decaf beans, their husk was already pretty much gone. No ashes for me! Hooray.

So I’ve got my head down near the popper, waiting for the 2nd crack. The fumes are getting kind of thick. The smoke is really billowing. My throat is burning. My eyes are — Oh my Goodness the popper is melting!!! The top of the lid is no longer dome shaped, but drooping down like a bowl. I hear the sound of distant rain on a tin roof. It must be 2nd crack!

I grab the molten lid and remove it. Thankfully, it doesn’t remove any layers of skin. I dump beans into a metal colander, turn off the popper, and start shaking the beans to cool them off. I walk outside so the air will be cooler. The screen door slams behind me. I turn to see smoke pouring out of the doorway, like a water fall aiming upwards.

Now comes the fun part. You have to wait 72 hours for all the mutagenic gases to escape from the beans. Otherwise it won’t taste so great. So we wait.

If you run the popper a long time, parts of it may melt. Including the heating element. If you’ve got the kind of popper with the screen on the bottom, it might catch fire and shoot flames out the top. Even if it’s not the screen-bottomed kind, it might still erupt in flames and engulf your living room. So don’t roast coffee in your house! And check the batteries in your smoke detectors. By the way, do you have carbon monoxide detectors? They’re a little spendy, but really worth it if you consider the alternative.

Of course, I couldn’t wait 3 days. By Saturday morning the smell of coffee permeated my kitchen. I’d dumped the black beans into a ziploc bag, but left open and unzipped. By Sunday afternoon, I couldn’t restrain my anticipationary tendencies. I grabbed some beans and ground ’em up ,and dumped ’em into the coffee making thinger. The hot water dribbled through, and soon the house was smelling like a fire in a furniture factory. The air was thick with the smell of burning turpentine. And a slight bouquet of Mt. St. Helens.

I must have let it get to 5th crack. It was so far past Starbucks’ espresso roast as to poke your eye out. On my tongue it felt like a crushed charcoal briquet.

Once I came to, I realized that I’d have to try again.

With the lid all melted, I had to make a replacement. I chose a tall chimney design. I thought that I’d use a silicone cookie mat rolled up into a tube, but couldn’t find one. So I tried an aluminum oven tray. But it had it’s own ideas. So I ended up taking a #10 steel can (that I got from Honeyville Foods with a load of freeze-dried strawberries) and forcing it into place with some metallic automotive radiator tape. It worked like a charm.

This time I didn’t go into the laundry room. There was still enough smoke floating around inside there. I stayed outside. I turned the device on and waited. I didn’t really notice any smoke at all. But you can do it inside your house if you REALLY want to. Soon it was 1st crack! Once that was over, I aimed my flashlight into the roasting chamber. I watched the beans turn happily brown, and without even waiting for any alleged 2nd crack, dumped the whole bunch into the colander.  Better safe than sorry.

I’m thinking this is officially a light City Roast. It smells good! It doesn’t look espresso beany. But you never can tell.

I’ve got 48 more hours to go till the coffee bean train pulls into the station. Got creamer?

About Lyle Verbilion

I'm just wanderin' around lookin' at things. Wow.
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