Friday, February 26, 2010

Coffee - Roast Your Own Coffee Beans

I love coffee. I have to say that every time I write here. Why? Because I really do love coffee. I love it so much I want to keep learning more and more about it. And one of the lessons I am learning now is how to roast my own beans? Why? Because green coffee beans can keep for years in that form, but once roasted their flavor peaks after just a few days. Ever wonder how long those cans of coffee have been sitting around in the grocery store?

Can you say, forever? I can. And even though the product is vacuum packed there is a loss of the freshness of the ground beans. I want my coffee to be as fresh as I can get it. And that requires me to learn how to roast my own.

The first step is to get some green coffee beans. And that leads to another group of questions. First, what kind of coffee do you like to drink? A milder brew, a strong brew, an espresso? Different growing regions produce different flavored coffee beans. If you know you like mild coffees, you may want to focus on Central American or Island coffees. If you drink mostly espresso, then try an espresso blend or use Brazil as single origin espresso. If you know you like darker roasts and coffees with lots of body, you may want to check out Indonesian or Brazilian coffees; these tend to have more body, less acidity and take a dark roast well. If you like bright flavorful coffees, then try Kenyan coffees which can tend to be more acidic, more citrus, or Ethiopian coffees which can be fruited or bittersweet chocolate.

Once you have your beans chosen, you can start the process of roasting those babies.

The first method we are going to talk about is the frying pan/wok method:

What You Need: Any lightweight skillet with a good tight lid, or a heavy skillet for a real aerobic workout. (You might also try a Wok and agitate with a wooden spoon. With good technique, this method can produce fine results.) Gas or Electric stove. An oven thermometer . A big spoon, a big bowl or metal collander for cooling, and oven mitts.


  • Turn on your stovetop exhaust fan, or open a kitchen window. Have all your supplies within reach.
  • Measure out about 9 ounces of coffee by weight, or 12 ounces by volume for a large skillet.
  • Preheat skillet over low flame / medium electric burner setting with the lid on. An Oven thermometer placed inside can tell you when you have reached 500 degrees. Stabilize at 500.
  • Remove the thermometer, toss your beans in there, put the lid on tight, and armed with oven mits, start shakin'.
  • This is the most intuitive, rough and tumble (literally) roasting method. Keep the beans in motion. Listen for the "first crack" and smell for smoke around 5 minutes. Wait a minute and lift the lid to check the color.
  • It's easy to scorch the coffee by using too much heat, so it's better to taper off a little after the crack. Check color every minute or so.
  • You want to pour the beans out of the skillet into the collander when they are a tad lighter than the color you desire, since roasting continues until beans are cool.
  • Agitate beans in metal collander or bowl with a big spoon until they are warm to your touch. You may need oven mitts for this. You may want to walk out to a porch to aid cooling.
  • If beans have light colored chaff still attached to them, simply agitating them in the collander should remove it. If you blow lightly on the beans the chaff will fly off, but do this outside or over a sink to avoid sweeping the floor.
  • Coffee should be stored out of direct light (and not in a fridge or freezer) in an airtight glass jar, but with a fresh roast, wait 12 hours to seal the jar tightly; it needs to vent off C02.
  • Warm, fresh roasted beans are wonderful, but the coffee attains its peak 4 to 24 hours after roasting. If you store it as recommended, we'll call it fresh for 6 days. When you open that jar in the morning, you will know what fresh coffee truly is.
This method is the easiest on two sides. It is easy to do, but it is also easy to muck up. The beans have to be turned constantly, with the lid on the frying pan or else they will scorch. Scorched coffee beans do not taste good.

Next time we will talk about another method.

Coffee - It Does a Body Good

I love coffee, and I love finding out that something I love doing can actually be helping my health. Surprisingly enough, coffee other than tasting like the nectar of the God's is also helpful. Read on, dude. Read on.

Reduced Gall Stones

The Harvard School of Public Health recently published a study indicating that drinking caffeinated coffee on a regular basis can dramatically decrease the incidence of gall bladder disease and gall stones in both women and men.

Reduced Risk for Alzheimer's Disease

Two studies, one published in the European Journal of Neurology, have shown that individuals who drank about 2 cups of caffeinated coffee per day were less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease than individuals who drank no coffee or a small to moderate amount.

Reduced Risk for Parkinson's Disease

Studies have shown that the amount of coffee and caffeine consumed could be inversely related to an individual's likelihood of contracting Parkinson's disease. This means the more coffee you drink, the lower your chances are for developing the disease.

Antioxidants and Cancer-Fighting Properties

Coffee is a powerful source of antioxidants - agents that combat cancer-causing free radicals. Coffee is chock full of the compound methylpyridinium, which can't be found in many other food items and not at the level available in coffee. You can get antioxidants from both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee as long as the beans are sufficiently roasted.

Increased Cognitive Ability

Studies have shown that regular coffee drinkers frequently score significantly higher on cognitive ability tests, spatial awareness exams, IQ tests, and short term memory studies. I am positive proof of this because after a couple of cups of coffee I am an absolute genius.

The effects of coffee on an individual's cognitive ability appeared to be more pronounced in elderly study participants and women.

Bowel Stimulation

Coffee is a stimulant and also a laxative. This is proven to be true by me also, my morning poop comes right after my first drink of coffee. Sometimes just smelling the coffee brewing is enough to get things moving.

However, because coffee is also a diuretic, it can cause constipation in some individuals.

Reduced Risk for Gout

A large study of over 45,000 men that was conducted over a 12-year period showed the amount of coffee consumed was inversely related to their risk or likelihood of developing gout.

Remember, everything should be practiced in moderation, and health concerns should always be discussed with a medical professional. So, while a moderate amount of coffee has its benefit, an excessive amount can also cause problems. Heavy coffee drinking can lead to irritability, anxiety, sleep deprivation, cardiovascular problems and higher cholesterol levels.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Coffee Rules

I am a true coffee addict. Of course, in this day and age, who isn't? Coffee gives you that pick up that all of us need in the morning. It helps soothe our jangled nerves. Of course those nerves are most likely jangled because of your consumption of coffee, but who's paying attention? We need that boost in the morning to get us through the meetings, and whatever else we have going on.

At least I know that I do. I am a coffee purist. I don't put anything in my coffee. Black is how I like it. No cream, no sugar, nothing but caffeinated goodness. In a nice big cup with a sturdy handle. The morning paper would be nice with it, but that isn't necessary. I can enjoy a good cup of coffee with just the sounds of the world waking up around me. Everyone has the way that they like their coffee. But what the heck is this stuff that we look up on as nectar from the God's? Just what is coffee?

What we commonly think of as coffee beans are actually seeds. Did you know that? I sure as heck didn't. I remember the tv commercials from the 60's that showed Juan Valdez walking around with hands full of what looked like beans to me. But they aren't. What Juan had was seeds of the coffee cherry. Coffee cherry? That is is just craziness if you ask me.

After the cherries are picked, the outside husk is removed, and the beans are washed, then dried. After drying, they are roasted. Roasted coffee beans are how coffee is usually sold, though some beans are sold for home roasting. Interestingly enough, a lighter colored roasted coffee is higher in caffeine, and has a stronger flavor. Darker roasts have a smoother taste. I would have thought that it would have been the other way around.

After all that has gone on, it is ready for you and I. Either we buy it from some coffee shop or we buy to brew at home. Either way we do it, the coffee is ground and mixed with hot water and out comes that elixir that we all crave.

I do so love coffee.