Monday, January 30, 2012

Roasting Coffee

The photos from my bread making were so fun I've been itching to do it again! So here are some pictures of how we roast our coffee beans. When we buy them they are in their raw form - which is green and doesn't look or smell at all like coffee!

In fact I'd bet you'd turn your nose up and walk away if you didn't know that a little heat would transform them into something wonderful :) By now I can hear you asking - why on earth do you buy your coffee beans raw? Isn't it just easier to buy them already roasted and just grind them yourself? Or better yet, buy the pre-ground stuff?

And the answer is . . .

1. We've been buying beans for our whole marriage. TR is the main coffee drinker in our house and he likes to grind them himself for the best flavour.
2. We were buying the PC bags of dark roasted coffee beans, but then they discontinued them and we were on the look out for some new favourite coffee.
3. We've heard and read a lot about the way coffee is exploited and being mis-farmed. How they're tearing out trees and planting big fields. How the workers don't get paid much and the big kahunas are taking all the profits. One day while TR was at the drugstore picking up some other health food we buy there he saw these bags of coffee that were Fair Trade and organic. Something like $11 a small bag - but anything is worth a try once right? It was AMAZING! Super duper wonderful coffee. He loved it so much that he tried to ration it - only to discover that the amazingness wears off after the bags been opened. So then he had the freedom to drink the bag as fast as he could :)
4. Okay - here is the biggest reason. I say all that to say this. We just couldn't go back to the other kinds of coffee. Not only was this Fair trade and organic. It was also really good coffee. But it was expensive. While I was searching for some other food online I came accross a store in E that sells the green beans. They were still fair trade. Still organic. But about half the price of the stuff we were currently buying. So when my sister was heading that way we asked her to pick us up some.

Okay so here is in a nutshell: Fresh roasted coffee tastes better. It's Fair trade and organic. And it's even fun to roast it!

So here are my instructions :)

Pour some beans into a cast iron skillet. It needs to be clean and dry (no oil). Turn the burner on medium heat.

Once they start getting a little brown they need to be slowly stirred constantly. I say slowly because if they escape the pan they are HOT! And it is not fun to put them back in!

After about 11 minutes they are starting to look a lot more like coffee!

Starting to smoke pretty good - although it is hard to tell in the picture . . . A good fan above the oven would be really good right about now!
And since our fan was not working very well . . . we had to open the door! It was so smoky in our house it was crazy! And after a little while it was cold too :)

You can see the smoke a bit in this picture. It smells a little like coffee - but it's not a very pleasant smell at all.

It's been about 19 minutes now - and it is definitely looking like coffee beans! And the smell is getting better too. More like coffee - but still really smoky. The oils are coming out and I can feel it is a little sticky.

The finished product at about 20 minutes. The beans are really hard to roast evenly so some are much darker than the others. It looks like it would taste a little burnt because some of them are even black - but it doesn't. It just tastes wonderful!

While they are roasting there is a little shell that comes off of the beans. It's just little pieces of flakes that need to be removed. Similar maybe to removing the hulls of of oats and wheat. Anyway - we put it in this colander and swirl it around and they fall out of the holes. Right now the beans are really really really hot! You can't hardly touch the sides of the colander!
I just sweep this up with my hand and dump it in the compost :)

And there you have it! Let it cool, then grind and enjoy!

Before and after. Maybe after I've been doing this for a while it won't be quite so exciting . . . but right now I think it's pretty cool! It's so neat to watch it transform! And it actually makes me want to drink coffee!

A few interesting facts:
  • The raw beans are smaller in size. When they're roasted they swell almost double (don't quote me on that - I'm just guessing, I haven't actually measure, just eye balled it :)
  • Our favourite right now is the Nicaraguan. Our least favourite is the Brazilian.
  • Going through all this effort for coffee makes it a real shame to waste any. So I'm looking for ways to keep that from happening. We compost all our used grounds (we were doing that before so it's not really different) I save the leftover coffee to water the houseplants sometimes. We do pour some down the drain as I don't think my houseplants want that much coffee. Right now I'm thinking I'll start freezing the leftover coffee for icecaps next summer.
  • I wrecked a couple of batches when I was trying it. I took it off too soon and TR said it didn't taste very good. I was so scared of burning it! When TR (who has done it a few more times than me) was watching he told me to keep it on way longer than I originally thought!
  • We paid $18.70/kg for the coffee.


  1. Wow! That looks so good! I need to comE over for coffee!


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