Well, the green coffee beans I ordered finally arrived. Sweet Maria’s was real quick on shipping them out, but UPS messed up and misrouted the package. So it ended up making a side-trip to Mesquite TX before it found it’s way home. The original shipment was supposed to take 2 days, it ended up taking 4 additional days to correct the mistake. The package finally showed up at 6:59 PM yesterday, and by 7:30 my first batch of home roasted coffee was packed away. Read on for the full story and this mornings impression of the results.
First impression, wow. Green coffee is a MUCH different beast than the roasted beans most people are used to. The smell is very interesting and somewhat hard to describe. Almost a stale smoke smell, though I suspect that may just be the way the box smells – after all SM’s is also a small batch roaster so there’s probably some smoke to deal with from time to time in their building! Upon opening my first baggie of beans though it sure seems that the smell does come from the unroasted beans themselves.
Since I have minimal equipment and time invested I don’t have super fine control control over my roast – nor the expertise to tell just when to stop the roast yet. So rather than get one big batch of beans and experiment with roasting I went with a sampler of 8 1/2lb. bags of various beans – and I’ll try to keep my roasts consistent. Next order I’ll pick a favorite from these 8 and order a larger batch to experiment with the various levels of roast. But for now the selection I was sent is:
- Columbia Huila Valencia “City+ to Full City+ A versatile coffee with great balance, raisiny fruit notes + brown sugar sweetness”
- Indonesia Flores – Bajawa Highlands “At C+ roast mildly floral and nutty with aromatic wood hints. At FC+ roast : Warming spice and chocolate”
- Panama SHB Las Victorias “At Full City: Dark caramel chocolate sweetness, winey fruit and lingering pungency. Hints of banana and anise.”
- Sulawesi Enrekang “Mount Alla” “At Full City+: Choclate (sic), spice and earthiness. Low acidity with pepper and caramel aromatics. Both clean and earthy.”
- Brazil Coromandel – Fazenda Sao Joao “City+ to FC+ Floral aromas, nut-to-chocolate roast tone with honey, aromatic wood, root beer”
- Ethiopia Organic Limu (Indonesia Process) “At City+ to FC: Honey Lemon taste juxtaposed with rustic charachter. Dry mouthfeel with rosehip finish Unusually bright cup. more body than a Yirgacheffe.” (USDA certified organic)
- Guatemala Antigua – Finca Retana Yellow Bourbon “At City to City+ Bright, crist, classic Central cup profile with white grape juice, peach, pear, melon, honey”
- Peru FTP Cuzco Ccochapampa “City+ to FC: Nutty milk chocolate roast tone, with warming spice and herbal accents, waxy mouthfeel.” (USDA certified organic, Fair Trade Certified)
Woah, that’s quite a pile to select from! I ended up picking the Columbian for my first attempt since it sounded like the more “standard” coffee from the selection. Just a nice well rounded cup of very high quality beans. So I grabbed the bag of them, my digital scale, a collander and bowl, the popcorn popper, an oven mitt, timer and some scrap paper and went to the outside kitchen.
I turned on the popper and poured in beans until they just stopped swirling but still moved around. I then quickly dumped them onto the scale before they could get warm and found that 79g will be my baseline for starting roasts. About 1/3rd of the 1/2lb bag in other words – or enough for about a 10cup pot of coffee. I then plugged the popper back in and let it warm up for about 3 minutes (a move I had learned was necessary with this particular popper back when I used it for its intended purpose!) At that time I dumped my beans in and started the timer. Chaff began to blow off almost immediately then after only 2 minutes the coffee was starting to quite visible brown and I heard the start of the first crack. It was a much louder pop than I expected, quite a bit like popcorn in fact. The 1st crack went on for about a minute maybe a minute and a half. The coffee then continued to turn darker brown and started to smell like coffee, right about the 6 minute point I heard what I believe was the start of the 2nd crack, after the 2nd such noise (about 6:30 in) I stopped the roast and started to cool the beans.
I compared the beans to the Full City breakfast blend I had inside, and the colors were very close. So I think I did a pretty good job of hitting the FC roast I was aiming for. The smell was very enticing at this point. I compared it to the grocery store coffee and while they had a number of similarities in smell there were a lot of major differences. The fresh roasted coffee smelled “cleaner” while the store bought had a somewhat chemical/medicinal note. Since coffee should rest for at least 4 hours before being ground and brewed I put it into a glass jar in the cabinet (with the led not quite snug so CO2 could escape) and left it until this morning.
This morning I was treated to a nice “Thwup” as I opened the jar – apparently I had it tight enough that the CO2 build a little bit of pressure and created a seal. I put my water on to boil, warmed and frothed some milk so I could prepare something Amy might also be willing to try, ground my beans and brewed up a batch in my press pot. The results were quite tasty. Amy actually drank most of the mocha I made for her, but requested less coffee in the next one. My first impressions of the cup were that I instantly understood what they mean by a “bright” cup of coffee. Overall the flavors were both more subtle and more pronounced than the commercial coffee.
I know that sounds contradictory but it’s more a matter of muddy flavors being less pronounced and the more delicate flavors being much more forward. The coffee was a bit more acidic than I expected, so next batch of these beans I may try going a little darker on the roast. I’m looking forward to roasting up one of the more exotic beans next and seeing how it compares.
Oh yeah, I’m still working out a few photo issues with the latest version of wordpress…so things aren’t exactly 100% optimal right now!
More chocolate too. I had to let it cool so it didn’t smell like coffee much. Gave me a tummy ache and a righteous headache…
I will still do my hula hoop instead and stop at Caribou for my fix until I see you in AZ.
Hula hoop? Caribou? I’m lost.
The hula hoop comment was rather obscure but refers to her latest exploits (see our blog) and Caribou is a very popular brand of coffee – competitor of the ubiquitous Starbucks.
Ok, the hula hoop makes a little bit of sense now 😀 And I thought I’d heard of a Caribou Coffee…just never seen them. Hey, until a year or two ago the only Starbucks in Yuma was the one in the Barnes and Noble store!
Your problem of an acidic brew is due to your roast finishing too quickly. You need to shoot for 10-12 minutes to mellow out the beans, which will also emphasize the low notes. Unfortunately without some modifications to your popper to limit its heating element you won’t easily be able to accomplish this.
Thanks for the feedback. I’ve managed to slow down the roast somewhat since I posted that by using more beans and a chimney on the popper. It has made a big difference.
Still working on this first batch of beans…but will be ordering some more soon and thinking I may make a few more advanced mods to the popper by then. Really need a better grinder and more than anything right now though.