This past weekend I took a home coffee roasting class at the Institute for Domestic Technology. The name alone is enough to love the place…then you walk through the incredible villa front doors, out onto a few young orange trees to find a handful of beautiful bleeting goats. That is where the kitchen is, it could hardly feel more pastoral and perfect for making food. Or coffee roasting for that matter…
First, we had a cupping ceremony. You could call it just a lesson, but with all the detail and care you could hear in the instructors voice it was hard not to feel pulled into coffee lore. Ian, our instuctor du jour, explained such coffee vitals as “Act like it is opposite day! Get close, be loud, put your face almost in your food!” It was a belly laugh and a hard moment of truth when I realized THAT is not opposite on any day for me.
The thing is coffee roasting at home, at least in small batches is incredibly unbelievably easy–and FAST! For small batches you don’t need an industrial roaster but you will need a Whirley Pop. This once house hold item is making a comeback for small batch home roasters. We roasted a pound each in class. The process the bean under goes in the heat is the rapid release of its moisture and the breakdown of starch in the beans. Sugars are released as a result of this caramelization process, resulting in the dark robust brown we associate with coffee beans. In coffee roasting at home it is also preferrable if you have a gas stove (but even if you don’t) you will want your stove set as high as possible. This is a smokey endeavor.
HOME COFFEE ROASTING:
Turn stove top to highest heat and warm up empty Whirley Pop.
Pour green coffee beans of your choice into Whirley Pop.
Keep turning the hand crank the entire time you are roasting.
About 5 mins in you will hear First Crack, which will sound like popcorn! NOW we have coffee!
Any more time spent in the roaster will now be affecting the roast level. The lighter the roast the more flavor will be present from the oils and acids in the bean, these will be distinct based on origin. Therefore origin coffees! The darker the roast the more acrid it will become due to the build up of carbon.
SO IF YOU CONTINUE:
Frist Crack will settle down after a bit.
Then will come Second Crack, which sounds more like your childhood bowl of rice krispies. Now we are starting to get really dark roasts of coffee.
I am told when your house fills with smoke and the Whirley Pop almost lights on fire you may have a Fine French Roast!
AT WHATEVER STAGE (AFTER FIRST CRACK) YOU WANT:
Pull Whirley Pop from heat and dump beans onto a cookie sheet.
Use a spoon to spread them out quickly in a single layer so they can release their heat fast.
Allow to come to room temp.
Seal in airtight one way valve bags or tins. You want air to escape but not get in. (Wish I could find an eco-friendly solution here…)
Leave at least 48 hours to allow flavor to mellow.
THEN, well then you will enjoy the best cup of coffee ever. Possibly the first one that you truly love. Because you made it! Now, this also depends on your ability to brew it properly. And here is the art form. Ian showed us tricks with spoons, the proper temperatures to drink different coffees at to really appreciate their full body and flavor, different ways of pressing and mixing. You may say, well coffee is coffee and I would have agreed with you prior to class, as it’s been 4 years since I have had anything but a cup of the darkest roast available in any city the hubby was in. But I gained a world of knowledge and delighted in tasting the different roasts. This was truly the magic of the class. We received tons of information as to where to get coffee bags and beans. The best place: Sweet Marias. We were also sent home with a pound of green coffee beans to continue our roasting adventures at home. I am hoping to teach the hubby this week, cross your fingers the house doesn’t burn down because he will be going for the darkest of dark.
OH!!! There was also fresh goats milk. A massive ball jar full of goats milk fresh from this morning. I am not ashamed to say I drank the whole thing. Then they brought out another. And I drank that one too.
This is the kind of meal that sticks with you in your dreams: coffee, fresh goats milk, dark chocolate, milk chocolate and fresh cheese made at the Institute as part of their Milk Crafting series. They also have preservation classes whose focus changes with the season and a whole food crafting series! I can’t wait to go back. And if you are in the Los Angeles area, and want to learn way more about coffee than you should head to the Institute. Address is provided upon registration.
Also, I LOVE this goat. Thank you for the milk goat!