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Favourite things – Part 2

Okay folks, it’s the second exciting installment in the “Reasons My Life Rocks” series! When I’m munching my oats, those oats can take many permutations; but there is one non-optional accessory. Coffee.

Hot and steamy time:

Bubbly bubbly

Savoury, dark, strong nectar of the morning (and mid-afternoon, usually). Divine brew of the roasted seeds of the berry of the Coffea genus, how you turn my crank. I was a very late arrival to coffee: I dabbled with milky instant for years, with the occasional cappuccino, and never made the connection between milky coffee and lactose-intolerant me feeling ill (yeah, I know…I’m not proud). So for ages I thought I just didn’t like coffee — an assumption never really challenged since instant was my coffee of choice. But little by little, I started experimenting with plunger coffee: not bad at all. Then I borrowed M’s Aeropress and that changed things again. Step by step, the love flourished.

Then I learned how to use the Moka pot (pictured above, brewing for two at breakfast), and that made me rethink the matter once again. And then M started roasting his own coffee. Holy cow was that a mind-blower. Since we share the coffee-drinking responsibilities around here, it seemed appropriate that we share the coffee-roasting responsibilities too, so I learned how. It’s awesome; a small batch only takes about twenty minutes, so we usually do a batch or two on the weekend or after work  — and we always have fresh roast beans in the grinder. (Look, I said this was a post about how awesome my life was. You can’t blame me if you’re feeling too jealous to read on.)

We get green (unroasted) beans from Coffee Snobs, a Victoria-based roaster, blender and distributor of coffee beans, tea blends, cocoa, and coffee-related paraphernalia. Completely awesome: they’ve got an extensive and dedicated coffee-peepz forum, the dude who owns/runs it is committed to sourcing his cocoa, tea and coffee from ethical distributors endorsed by FairTrade, UTZ-Certified and the like, PLUS they have a setup called “Fair Crack”, where a certain amount from each purchase goes towards buying processing equipment and sponsoring communities that rely on coffee production for their livelihood. It rocks.

Here’s where we start: bag o’ green beans.

Mexico Yeni Navan Typica (apparently)

You take about a glassfull (150g) and put it in your mighty home roaster…

Secret weapon from the mighty horde of eBay

…ah, the Brevile CraZy PoPpEr. The machine of choice for the discerning coffee enthusiast. A little electric popcorn maker is ideal for small batches of coffee: it’s designed to keep things hot and moving around quickly so that all your popcorn/coffee gets cooked at the same time. We’ve modified ours so it can handle more beans by shoving a foil-lined (empty) (clean) tomato tin into it as a chimney.  Here’s the green beans at the bottom of the chimney, waiting for me to flick the magic button.

Stage 1

Round and round they go, heating quickly and bounding around:

Stage 2

Darker and darker…for once, the blur is not my shaky photography — these are zippy-moving beans:

Stage 3

Just as I took this photo, the beans reached the second crack stage, so named because of the crackling/popping sound created as the beans cook (the first crack is apparently the water in the beans steaming and popping out). I let the second crack stage go on a bit because I like dark roasted coffee.  Then tumbled the beans onto a flat tray.  In case you were wondering, you should roast outside if you can:


Smoking good times. The smell is incredible. It’s a gorgeous smokey, dark, savoury coffee smell: sexy and robust and mysterious and oooohh…I beg your pardon. I need a moment to compose myself…

Cooling my shiny beans (if you know what I mean)

Here I’ve spread the beans out on a tray in a single layer, so as to cool them as quickly as possible and halt the roasting.

The glistening finale

And here I’m experimenting with the macro setting on my camera. Scuse that. But aren’t they seriously sexy? All shiny and warm and savoury. Beautiful

I have been told that coffee beans are at their optimum in the period starting 24 hours after roasting and ending about a week later, so I usually try and roast a batch of coffee just before we run out of the previous batch, allowing the new stuff a 24-hour rest before it is ground.  But there’s no point being thingy about it: even after a few weeks, you’re still talking about my delicious beans, baby. I’m certainly not about to chuck a load of roast beans in the bin just because they’re nine days old or whatever. Nosir.

I’ve used home-roasted beans as the basis for chocolate-covered coffee beans (melt dark chocolate in microwave, add beans, spread on baking paper to set), and I’ve used it ground up in mocha-flavoured baking too.  But frankly, there’s no greater joy than the dark savoury shot to go alongside breakfast.  And if M has recently made a batch of flaky pastries of any description, so much the better.

Man, I need a cup now.

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