Monday, June 3, 2013

Off Topic #1: Home coffee roasting

There's often an overlap between coffee geeks and shaving enthusiasts (and wristwatch collectors, but that's another post). I think the common point between the two hobbies is often the desire to get more involved, in a very hands-on way, with something most people already do but put little thought into. Most men shave, even if not all of them do so regularly, and most people consume coffee products of some kind. For many, cartridge razors and big chain coffee are enough-perhaps they channel the effort I put into shaving and coffee into other hobbies; but a few of us feel the need to get a little more connected with our daily rituals.
I took up traditional wet-shaving back in college, out of a combination of sheer curiosity and outrage at the price of razor cartridges, but my interest in coffee didn't really kick off until I graduated and coffee became a luxury rather than “dissertation fuel”. I started out, as most aspiring Home Baristas do, by finding some local roasters, tracking down the best espresso machine and grinder for my dime and playing around with French presses and Moka pots. However, in the last year I've been reading about the history of coffee, and correspondingly eschewing my espresso machine for simpler ways to brew my morning drink.
It turns out that one of the most rewarding ways to get involved and hands-on with coffee is to try roasting at home. My first attempt was on Sunday night, which took nothing more than half a pound of green coffee (Rwanda AA from www.greenbeanery.ca), a saute pan, an oven thermometer and some good ventilation. Although the results of my first attempt were visibly uneven, this morning’s coffee was one of the best cups I've had in a while, and I can’t wait until I become actually good at roasting.

If you’re the kind of person that likes to take your daily rituals to the next level, say, stropping your own straight razor in the morning, then you may find roasting your own coffee for your morning brew to be well worth the effort (you will need a way to grind the coffee before you brew it- there are some cheap hand grinders available). If you are already a coffee geek and have access to a suitable grinder, I also highly recommend giving Turkish coffee a try at some point.