All this talk of home-roasters and roasting in one’s very own kitchen has got me waxing nostalgic. And so I dug around the roasting bench in the garage and excavated my very first coffee roaster — the FreshRoast — and after a bit of dusting and inspecting to make sure that all was in apparent working order, I started roasting coffee. The neurotic golden retriever — a creature who’s memory is clearly better than I’ve had any reason to believe — ran for cover. Fortunately (at least so far as the dog is concerned) while I did fill the house with the aroma of roasting coffee, I did not set off the smoke alarms. Honestly, when you’re roasting about 2 ounces of coffee at a time, you’d have to really throw yourself into it and put some serious dark on those beans to create a lot of smoke.

My first batch, an Antigua that I’d noted as having lots of brown sugar and some lovely orange zest notes (I know this ’cause I attach my tasting notes to the bags of green beans,) despite a very promising fragrance just-ground, proved woody and dull and lifeless. I checked the date on the bag… and found none. That means that the coffee in question arrived before I’d got clever enough to date all of my incoming beans, which was sometime in 2004. So, no wonder.

A second batch — a remaindered sample from the latest Ethiopia eCafe Gold auction — yielded lots and lots of chaff (natch, it’s an unwashed, dry-process coffee) and roasted incredibly uneven… some beans were entering second crack while others were only just thinking about first. Ack! Thpt!! Try again.

After dumping the chaff collector, and with a slightly smaller batch, my third attempt yielded gold. Incredible fruited fragrance of peaches and cherries and a whole market of exotic spices, tastes of dark cocoa and raw honey and a sweet, lingering burnt sugar aftertaste. Yum. The roast was still fairly uneven — point of fact it was pretty damn ugly — but the cup was wonderful.

The FreshRoast set me back about 60 bucks when I bought it some time in — gosh, 2000? 2001? — and it still can make for a pretty spiffy cup. At least 30% of the time… 😉

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