A nice, fresh, hot cup of flavorful coffee. For some people, it’s a prerequisite for a good day; they can’t get going without their morning cup of joe. I enjoy a good cup of coffee, but it’s got to be good, otherwise it just isn’t worth drinking.
In the year 2000, I started roasting my own coffee. Prior to that, I purchased whole beans and ground them myself – a definite improvement over coffee that comes in a can. Buying green coffee beans and roasting them yourself is the next step in the journey toward the ultimate cup of coffee. There are some excellent online resources for purchasing green coffee beans: Sweet Maria’s or Coffee Bean Corral are a couple I’ve ordered from.
One of the advantages of roasting your own coffee is the level of roast that you can achieve. It’s in your power to decide whether you want a full-city roast or a french roast or whatever. The different levels of roast bring out different flavors in the coffee. Another advantage is the many varieties of coffee beans available to you. I enjoy exploring the differences between South American, Indian, or African coffees (and the differences within regions). The flavor, though, is the most important advantage. Freshly roasted and freshly ground, the coffee tastes much better. Life is too short to drink bad coffee; you’ve got to make it good.
I roast my coffee in an old hot air popcorn popper. I’ve actually been using the same one for the last eight or nine years. My mom gave it to me because she wasn’t using it. It still works great, although it looks like I’ve been using it for eight or nine years. I discovered early on that I get better roasting results when I place the popper inside a bucket during the roasting process. This helps to make sure the hot air is hot enough. If it isn’t quite hot enough, the beans will not fully roast (they have to reach about 400 degrees internal temperature). With the popper in a bucket, the air coming into the popper is preheated.
There is a fair bit of smoke associated with roasting coffee beans. I roast mine in the garage. The smell of the smoke is pleasant to me, but not everyone wants to smell it in the house for several hours after roasting.
After roasting, I place the beans in a wire strainer. This allows them to cool more quickly than putting them in something the air cannot pass through. They come out of the roaster quite hot. Generally, the flavor from the beans will improve if they’re allowed to age or mellow for several hours after roasting, but it’s not necessary to wait. They make great coffee immediately after roasting (I don’t always want to wait).
I roast a handful of beans at a time. That’s about as many as the popper can handle. It’s also sufficient for several cups of coffee. The fresher the roast, the better the coffee. Roasted coffee will begin to lose some of its flavor as it gets older, after a week or so, through the process of oxidation.
My newest coffee maker is an Aeropress. It makes some really great coffee. I purchased it after reading the reviews on Amazon. So far, it has lived up to all of my expectations. It makes a flavorful, full-bodied cup of coffee in a very little time, and clean up is simple and easy.
My process for making coffee with the Aeropress is:
1. Grind roasted coffee beans (one tablespoon for one cup of coffee – fine grind)2. Heat water to approximately 180 degrees (in a teapot)
3. Put grounds in Aeropress
4. Add hot water (to the 2 or 3 mark on the Aeropress)
5. Stir for about 10 seconds
6. Press the plunger down to force the coffee through the grounds (takes about 20 seconds)
7. Add fresh cream (a couple spoons full)
8. Add more hot water to fill the cup
I don’t find a need to use more than one scoop of beans per cup of coffee. I like my coffee fairly strong, and this amount seems to achieve my desired ends. Some people make espresso with the Aeropress, but I’ve not tried that yet. I’ve also used the same filter for several cups of coffee. I just rinse it outwards and let it dry so it’ll be ready for the next time. Works fine.
Some people don’t like coffee. I can understand that based upon some coffee I’ve tasted (and did not drink). But I find that when it tastes like it should (meaning, good), the flavor is enough to make me anticipate the next cup. I’m already looking forward to my next cup. . . .