Experiments

Home Roasting

Firstly, I’d like to be clear that I make no claims to coffee snobbery, or faux sophistication. I am not a chemist. I am not a connoisseur. I’m a guy with an interest, an oven, and some days Folgers just doesn’t cut it. Even a brief foray down the rabbit hole of gourmet coffee will lead to discussion of home roasting.

As you may be aware, coffee is a bean – referred to as green or raw prior to being roasted. This does a couple of things such as drying – important for stability – and generating a flavor profile. Depending on how serious one cares to get, a roaster machine can run into the thousands of dollars.

Small scale coffee roasters

As an engineer by trade, I notice that the true function of such a machine is to automate the actions of heating and turning. I reckon this becomes more worthwhile at a commercial scale, but for one guy messing around in his kitchen, I’ll do it by hand.

June 2021 – Experiment 2

After I inadvertently smoked out my house and kitchen with the Bali batch, I was determined to figure out an alternative means of getting my roast on. The gas grill made the most sense. Sticking with the baking pan for the beans I set for low-medium heat.

As with my oven method, I initially checked progress every 5 minutes but reduced that to 3 minutes after the first crack. To my surprise, the direct heat of the burner was much slower than in the oven, despite the relatively high temperature reading on the grill thermometer. Progress was more uneven as well, and I had to mind a few hot spots.

I wouldn’t necessary trust the number on the dial, but it will serve as a value for repeatability purposes. In the end, I think this was a success. No smoky house. Takes a little longer, but that should give me more fine control of the roast.

A review of the resulting brew will be featured in another post.

June 2021 – Experiment 1

Most commercial coffee – especially that which you are likely to find at the grocery store – is not only roasted but also ground. Finding green or raw beans can be a challenge – if you care to shop in person – but I was able to find a supplier in my state. Close enough.

For today’s experiment, here’s what we’re going with:

Bali Organic Blue Moon
From the seller’s description: A shade grown coffee with a medium body and a rich aroma brings out the deep milk chocolate taste with a hint of classic Indonesian undertones.
REGION: Oceania
LOCATION: Kintamani Highlands
ELEVATION: 3,600-4,800 feet
VARIETAL: Typica, Catimor, and Bourbon
GRADE: Strictly Hard Bean
PROCESSING: Sun Dried
CERTIFICATION: Organic
FLAVOR NOTES: Milk chocolate notes with classic Indonesia undertones.

Okay. That sounds delicious.

Here’s my process for the roast:
-Spread beans out evenly on pan
-Set oven to 475F (first 5 min)
-Bake for 5min
-Agitate, increase temp to 500F, then return to oven.
-Repeat 2x times (total of ~18-20min roast time)
-Remove from heat, agitate and cool
-Package

Bali Blue Moon. 1lb.

After maybe 12min, I heard the first crack. Sort of like popcorn. By this point, the beans appeared to simply be drying and changing color… then the smoke started. In fairness, I was warned about this, but I underestimated just how much to expect. For 1lb of beans, it seemed like a lot.

With this initial foray, I was unsure of my method as well as how roasty the beans should appear so I erred on the lighter side. After getting a feel for my process with this round, I would be more comfortable making a darker roast – which I generally prefer – for the next batch.

Fortunately, it was a nice day, so I cooled outside – and ventilated the house. It was enough for the kids to ask if they should evacuate…

Lastly, I poured the batch into the vacuum pouch and we’re done.

The tasting review for this batch will be posted here when it is available.

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