Three Cups, Three Origins, One Winner

Three Cups, Three Origins, One Winner

There’s learning to be done here. If the roasts weren’t everything I hoped they might be, at least I might try to figure out why. And — to keep things interesting and to keep myself honest — I included a control: the latest batch of beans from Tony Konecny’s spiffy flash-sale like bean business at Tonx.org.

Make Mine a Mokha

Make Mine a Mokha

It’s unreliable, unaccountable, frequently unattainable, and I love it so. It, in this case, is Yemen Mokha, the stuff of heirloom varietals grown in village gardens and courtyards and tiny greenspaces carved out of the walls and warrens of ancient Arabian cities like Sana’a and Ismaili, where folk have tread for more than two and a half millennia. I savor roasting and tasting Yemeni coffees for the same reasons that commercial roasters despise them — they’re a complete crap-shoot. Yemen coffees are either left to dry on the tree, or dried — whole, cherry and all — on flat, sun-drenched rooftops. Dried coffees are stored in the husk and traded through a seemingly endless series of middlemen, mixing crops from untold numbers of family coffee gardens. The resulting beans tend toward the misshapen and bent, and are — by the standards of clean-as-a-whistle wet processors the world over — an unseemly mess. Oh, but what a lovely-tasting mess these coffees can be. I recently completed three roasts of a single lot of Yemen Mokha — back-to-back — making every reasonable effort to eliminate stray roast variables. Regardless, the results of each of those roasts is unique. Each cup is arguably unique. All are to one degree or another earthy, with notes of leather and dust; richly hued with wine-toned fruit, or tawny port, or sour strawberries, or apricots. This one has aromas of pitch pine and cherries; that one’s all peat moss and smoke and that one yonder, it’s got a bit of musty goat-skin in it. (Yeah… I skipped that cup, too.) And the final cup on the...

Coffee Roasters: How Not to Become a Stupid Statistic

It’ll never happen to you, right? Annabell Ramirez said it all started with a small fire in a coffee-bean roaster. She said she tried to put it out, but the glass shattered and the fire spread quickly. “Before I knew it, flames were coming out of the window…” Whether you’ve got the latest in commercially-available coffee roasters, or your own, custom-built rig, it’s important to remember that when you’re roasting coffee, you’re playing with fire. Every professional roaster I know has a story to tell about either a full-on roaster fire, or a damn close call. Every. Single. One. It’s only a matter of time. Here’s my top five tips for home-roasting fire safety. 1) Get a fire extinguisher. Even if you never roasted coffee, a fire extinguisher is the best insurance you can buy for less than 20 bucks. If you’re a coffee roaster, it may just be your best friend. Choose a fire extinguisher intended for kitchen or garage use… more specifically, a dry chemical model that’s rated for oil, electrical and wood fires. 2) Mount that extinguisher near your roaster. Note that I don’t say *above* your roaster, but *near* it. You’ll want to be able to grab that extinguisher without having to reach over a burning roaster. Better still, get two, and place one near, and one on the other side of the room. (While I’m not exactly paranoid, I have three extinguishers strategically located in my garage where I do most of my roasting.) 3) Never leave your coffee roasting unattended. Never — ever! — walk away with a roast in progress. I’ll admit...
Roasted ’til the Bitter End

Roasted ’til the Bitter End

Science Daily reports that chemists have identified those chemical compounds largely responsible for coffee’s bitterness. More, their findings suggest that most of the bitterness is introduced during coffee roasting. “Everybody thinks that caffeine is the main bitter compound in coffee, but that’s definitely not the case,” says study leader Thomas Hofmann, Ph.D., a professor of food chemistry and molecular sensory science at the Technical University of Munich in Germany. Only 15 percent of java’s perceived bitterness is due to caffeine, he estimates, noting that caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee both have similar bitterness qualities. “Roasting is the key factor driving bitter taste in coffee beans. So the stronger you roast the coffee, the more harsh it tends to get…” This isn’t news to anyone who’s roasted coffee that they know to be exceptional, and ended up with something that could grow hair on a wildebeest’s chest. (And yes, that includes me. Er… as the roaster, not the wildebeest.) The bit that leaves me scratching my head, however, is this: “We’ve known for some time that the chlorogenic acid lactones are present in coffee, but their role as a source of bitterness was not known until now,” Hofmann says. I have a number of books on coffee — books that have been popular references for years — that, I believe, speak at some length to the links between chlorogenic acids and bitterness. Maybe I’m missing something here. Or maybe there’s more to come still from the...
Bourbon Pointu: A Roaster’s Nightmare?

Bourbon Pointu: A Roaster’s Nightmare?

One more quick point (hah!) on Bourbon Pointu. It would appear that this coffee’s pointu (or, pointed) appellation is well earned. I’ve roasted any number of long-bean coffees, but this is something else, again. (Click the image1 to get a zoomified look.) Given that any long-bean coffee takes a certain amount of care in roasting to avoid tipping — scorching the exposed ends of the bean — I have to think that roasting Bourbon Pointu would be something of a nightmare. Still, I’d love to give it a try. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Image source, Ueshima Coffee Co., Japan....
Page 1 of 3123

Pin It on Pinterest