Saturday, August 25, 2012

coffee roasting aka smoking up the house

We're starting to get the hang of roasting small batches of coffee beans at home.  I've done it about 6 times now.  The first time was so exhilarating.  You can read about our stove top technique here.  Since then, we've tried a few different things to get the best roast with our equipment (i.e. stove and pot).

Ethiopians like to wash their beans before roasting so the husks all come off in advance.  We tried this method and it was great not needing to blow the husks off periodically into the sink.  But, the end result provided a drier looking bean without the oily sheen that we like.  The oils give the beans so much flavor.  We haven't washed them again.
Watching the women at The Four Sisters Restaurant in Gonder perform the coffee ceremony and roast the beans right in front of us was a great tutorial for me.  I used to be so nervous toward the end of the roasting session that my beans were going to burn or that I was roasting them too fast.  Traditionally they roast the beans over a fire that has no temperature control. It takes them 15 minutes tops to roast the beans so I've stopped worrying.

The smoke at the end from the roasted beans is a good thing.  Roasted beans are supposed to smoke.  Inhaling plumes of the coffee bean smoke in Gonder rid me of my concern over the smoking process.
smoking beans is a good thing
I used a cast iron skillet for this latest roasting session.  I wasn't thrilled about the darkening of the inside of one of my sauce pans that we were using to roast.  Hence the change. Plus, the cast iron skillet holds the heat nice and evenly.  I preferred the larger diameter skillet so I could roast a larger amount of beans.

I use a combination of tossing the beans by agitating the skillet and stirring with a wooden spoon.

At the very end when I think the beans are done, I keep roasting for just a few more minutes.  That extra time really produces a nice dark bean.

No matter how much I stir and agitate; the beans are still not roasting perfectly even.  Some of the beans have a nice almost black side and then you flip them over and the back is a dark brown.  It's really hard to get a good even roast with the stove top method.  We're OK with that.
At the very end I bring out a bag of pre-roasted Ethiopian coffee beans for comparison. When most of my beans are as dark at the pre-roasted stuff I take my beans off the heat.  They continue to roast a tad after pouring them into a bowl to cool.  My goal is to get them as dark as the beans we purchase.  We're getting there.


Anonymous said...

This sounds so, so amazing. What a cool Christmas gift idea too! Home-roasted coffee from Ethiopia? It's a whole new level of DIY cookery!!

Sara said...

Every time we do this I wish I could give a bag to my parents. It's tough to mail with pouch so I think we'll have to send it home with visitors who come our way!