Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Behmor Drum Coffee Roaster: My First Roasts

When my roaster arrived, I was so excited that I decided to roast right away. It came with nine different coffees (7 one-pound samplers plus two coffees that I had ordered, including the Espresso Monkey Blend).

I chose to christen the roaster with a half pound of Colombia Huila Valencia. I figured that I didn't want too start with anything tricky, difficult, or too exotic. I wanted a coffee that was easy to understand and enjoy, and to me this means Costa Rican or Colombian coffee. Sweet Maria's had shipped me both; I found the bag of Colombian first.

I placed the roaster on the stove under the exhaust fan and roasted my first batch with the defaults: P1/A, which computes to 12 minutes at the factory programmed "P1" roast curve (recommended by Sweet Maria's for beginners).

The machine's button layout is not intuitive; you have to press one of the top buttons, then one of the ones in the bottom-middle of the panel, then on of the ones in the top middle, optionally followed by one or two presses of the - or + buttons in the very middle, followed by START at the very bottom. This is a minor complaint but it's something that can be improved in the next model.

The machine runs extremely quietly. I initially ran it without the exhaust fan turned on so I could hear the cracks. This was a mistake, as the smoke alarms went off at about -1:50. Thus I was distracted from the roast for a while as I ran to turn on the fan and open a door. However, in later roasts, with the exhaust fan on, I was able to roast without any alarms. The Behmor's smoke suppression system is imperfect, but there is far less smoke than with the iRoast. Also, since it does not use any kind of forced air, I can clean the brown coffee residue from the exhaust area over my stove without worrying about it coming back!

I heard first crack at about -2:34. I ended up boosting the roast time by a couple of clicks at the end of the roast, and hit cool at the first sign of 2nd crack. The cool cycle is far longer than the iRoast's and not as immediately effective; you need to stop your roasts a little early because they continue into the cool cycle for quite some time.

Unfortunately, I think I hit the Cool button prematurely; after a day of resting, the coffee had a slight but unmistakable sourness characteristic of under roasted beans.

My next roast worked about much better: I roasted 1/2 a pound of the Espresso Monkey on P4/D - for a starting roast time of -14:50. First crack arrived rather quietly at -2:48, and I ended up hitting + twice (++ in my shorthand) and then stopping the roast with -:10 on the now-adjusted clock, which was precisely 10 seconds into second crack.

I roasted this bean to make espressos and this roast was much better than my first! The espressos were delicious, with plenty of crema and a natural sweetness and chocolate flavor that was simply awesome. I hope my next batch of the Monkey is exactly the same!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

My New Life

Previously, this coffee roasting journal had been about my old life. Then the blog went quiet for a while, as I settled into a steady rhythm of roasting 165g of green beans on my iRoast's preset #1, generally for 6:45 - 6:55 seconds, depending on the beans and the cracks. I bought a stainless steel Bodum French Press for use on days when I work from home (which I do a lot now), and added an electronic scale to my array of equipment, but other than that I just coasted along, happy and suitably caffeinated.

Then my world was shaken. At first it was just a bit of a shudder, but eventually everything turned upside down. It started when I upgraded my grinder to a Capresso Infinity Conical Burr Grinder. My old grinder had broken, and only worked on one grind setting. Fortunately this setting was perfect for the French Press and worked pretty well with the Chemex, too. But I eventually broke down and replaced it, and the new grinder opened my taste buds.

Soon, I wanted to test the capabilities of my new grinder, and what better way than to use it to make cappuccino? So I ordered a DeLonghi EC155 Espresso Maker as a way to dip my toe into the world of espresso and cappuccino making. Of course, I ordered a tamper, frothing pitcher, and thermometer, too, but then you've probably already guessed as much.

Originally, I was going to use the DeLonghi to make cappuccinos, and I do use it for that purpose sometimes. (My 13 year old daughter makes cappuccinos with it pretty often, in fact, which is a testament to something. Ease of use? Bad parenting? I dunno...)

But the espressos from that machine were so alluring, so tempting, that I am usually unable to do anything but drink them as is. When I first tried the espresso machine, it was with a Latte blend from the Coffee Bean Corral called Onobeano's Latte Blend. This blend was advertised as being designed for lattes and cappuccinos, which is why I bought it. I roasted it in my iRoast on preset 1 for 6:45 seconds and ground it on the Capresso grinder's finest setting in the "Fine" block. (The Capresso also has about five settings in an "Extra Fine" block but they are too fine for espresso.)

Now the Onobeano is advertised as a latte blend, and not really suitable for espressos due to its lack of crema. Which is fine, because if you remember my original plan was to use the DeLonghi to make cappuccinos anyway. So imagine my surprise when I pulled my first shot from the DeLonghi into a Bodum Pavina Double-Wall Thermo Glass and ended up with the most beautiful 3-layered shot of espresso you could ever hope for. And oh! The crema was remarkable, thick and with a delightful texture that made the crema almost chewable. And this with a bean that was known to give poor crema!

I became hooked on espressos, having several a day on week-ends and on days when I work from home. And my daughter, as I've mentioned, became an enthusiastic Cappuccinista. And the iRoast, my faithful roaster for so long, just couldn't keep up with demand.

Then my buddy Mike (who has been mentioned in this blog before) told me of a sale at Sweet Maria's: free shipping! Sweet Maria's had always been a favorite place for green beans, and, ever since becoming an espresso fiend, I had coveted their Espresso Monkey Blend. But when I surfed over to their site, I became immediately distracted by something else.

That's right: the Behmor 1600 Electric Drum Coffee Roaster. This thing roasts a pound at a time (as opposed to my iRoast, whose specs I was pushing at 165g per roast). And it can handle a mild roast, something air roasters can't do so well.

And, at $299, it was cheap compared to other drum roasters (but not compared to the iRoast). I bought one new from Sweet Maria's at the standard price of $299, but later learned on coffeegeek.com that you can find refurbished ones for $100 less.

So now I have a new roaster, and I have to learn to roast all over again. Plus, I am doing new things with coffee (did I mention the espressos?) and there's a learning curve there, too. So, I dug out this old blog, blew the dust of the password, and here we go again!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Today's Roast: A Study of Organic Mexico Oaxaca "Finca El Olivo"

This is another study, this time of the Mexican. I currently have four green beans in stock and of those I am studying three. And why not study the Guatamalan and make it 4/4? Because I will never ever ever roast that bean any differently then I did the last time. Consider that roast a single-roast study!

But, back to the Oaxacan:

August 16, 2006

I roasted a cup at preset 1. I heard the 1st crack at about -3:15 and I stopped this roast at -1:15. This cup was too bright at this roast for my liking, although Mike claimed that he tasted nothing wrong. (He likes the milder roasts more than I.)

August 18, 2006

I roasted a cup at preset #1, and saw the 1st crack at -3:19 until -1:50. Stopped the roast at -1:15. A pretty good cup at this roast but still too bright.

I will return to this bean later and will roast it darker in future.

Today's Roast: A Study of Sumatran "Iskander"

This is another study, this time of the Sumatran. Unlike my first study, the roasts did not take place sequentially, but I am grouping them together by bean so that I can more easily access the information when I want it. The intent of this journal is to be able to look backwards and say "yes, this is a good way to roast this bean" or "no I tried that before and it sucked". And I think it is better to order by the bean because in the end I am interested in the bean.

August 6, 2006

I programmed a Sweet Maria's roast for 10:00 (which means I tacked extra time to the third stage). The first crack came at -3:20 and, as usual with Sumatrans, I was unable to identify the second crack. I stopped the roast at -:30. The roast was darker than I had wanted but not by any means burned.

August 20, 2006

Today I programmed a straight Sweet Maria's roast, which is to say the total roast time was the same 9:30 minutes as in the original Sweet Maria's curve. The first crack came in at -3:22 and lasted until about -2:00. I stopped the roast at -:30.

I think I detected a second crack at about -:50. I am not 100% sure, because it was very quiet, even for a second crack. (Even a typically audible second crack sounds muted compared to first.) This may be my problem with detecting the second crack in Sumatrans. Between the roaster itself (which is noisy) and the overhead fan (which adds to the din), it might be that the Sumatrans have a quiet second crack that is just too subtle for my ears to hear.

Or, I could have imagined the second crack at -:50.

Today's Roast: Guatemala Antigua "Maria Especial"

This bean is a peaberry, so you have to watch the roast carefully to ensure that the beans are circulating correctly. If not, a gentle shake is usually enough to get things flowing again.

I roasted one cup of this bean today using the Sweet Maria's 9:30 roast profile. The recommended roast is "City to Full City", which is quite a range really. The first crack came in at -4:30, the second started at -2:00, and I stopped the roast at -1:45.

I think this may be one of the best if not the best roasts I have ever done. Due to vacation, a busy work schedule, and a general slacking off, I haven't been updating this blog as often as I should and I am adding this entry retroactively. So by the time I wrote this I had already drunk this roast down to the last drop. And it was goooood! It has a quality that I call "chewiness" but is really I guess just a certain thickness to the brew that is simply wonderful. I am torn between roasting up another batch right away and saving this bean for as long as possible...

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Today's Roast: A Study of Colombia Huila "Palastina"

I started this study to identify the best way to roast the Colombian, because I am taking a supply of roasted beans with me on vacation and want to make sure I take a well roasted bean. I would hate to find out too late that the roast was wrong; I would then have to spend my whole vacation drinking flawed coffee! Gross!

August 2, 2006

I roasted today's cup of Colombian with this roast program:

Stage 1350F2:00
Stage 2400F4:00
Stage 3460F3:00
The first crack came at -2:52. The second crack started before the first ended, so I am not sure when it started. I let the roast proceed for the entire nine minutes. The coffee was good but a little darker than what I wanted.

August 3, 2006

Today I used preset 1. The first crack came in at -3:19 and continued until about -1:40. The second crack kicked in at -:25. I stopped the roast at -:05.

I think this roast pretty much nailed it. The coffee was perfect, and this is the roast profile that I will use to roast the beans that I take with me on vacation.

Friday, July 28, 2006

This Week's Roasts

This week I have been roasting my new shipment of beans. So far I have roasted one cup of everything and have been using variations of the Sweet Maria roast profile. (The variations all involve changing the amount of time I spend in phase three.)

Guatemala Antigua Peaberry "Maria Especial"

I already reported on this roast in a previous posting. I liked this bean at this roast but will try a little lighter next time.

Sumatra Iskandar "Triple Pick"

I roasted this bean on an unmodified Sweet Maria's 9:00 program and heard the first crack at -2:22. I ended up adding :20 seconds to the roast at the last minute, so the roast went for 9:20. (On my roaster it is actually possible to add time while it's roasting, but it doesn't always work for me for some reason. It's like I have one chance to extend the roast, and if I don't extend it enough that one time then tough luck.)

I ommitted talking about things like the first crack ending and the second crack beginning because this is a Sumatran coffee and the two cracks always run together for me with Sumatran beans.

The recommended roast for this bean is Full City Plus, but Sumatrans always give me trouble and this is no exception. The general rule for Indonesians is that they roast light, which means that they should look a few shades too light for the roast you are aiming for. These beans actually had the correct color for the roast I was aiming for, which means if you adjust for their Indonesian origin then the beans were too dark. Yet when I brewed the coffee it had and acidic taste that I always associate with underroasted coffee. So, should I go by the color (and time!), and roast lighter next time? Or should I go by the taste, and roast more?

Mexico Organic Oaxaca "Finca El Olivo"

This bean I roasted for eight minutes. The first crack came in good and strong and -2:22. There was also an unusual aroma of ammonia during the first crack, especially at the beginning of the first crack.

This bean was delicious at this roast. It has a very gentle flavor that I really enjoy.

Colombia Huila "Palestina Micro Region"

I programmed the roast for this bean with a standard Sweet Maria's 9:00 roast curve. The first crack came at -3:22, the second chimed in at -:40, and I stopped the roast at -:20 so as to achieve the recommended Full City to Full City Plus roast. This coffee is very good at this roast, and I think I nailed the FC+. I am going to try it next time a little lighter, just for grins.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Today's Cup: Kenya Dorman AA

This is the Kenyan that I roasted on the 19th. This roast is darker than I have ever taken a Kenyan, and more delicious than any I have ever roasted. In fact, now I am a little disappointed that I didn't include any Kenyan in my last order! At this roast, the acidity is toned down to a reasonable level and the coffee has a nice depth to it, and more chewiness than my previous attempts at roasting Kenyans.

Green Beans

As I wrote the other day, I just received a shipment of new green beans. So far I have roasted one batch of the Guatemalan and brewed none of the new coffees. I am anxious to taste yesterday's roast, and looking forward to trying the other coffees, too. But, alas! The new shipment of coffee is not enough to satisfy my adiction; I was already browsing my favorite coffee shopping site before I had even roasted my first batch!

The thing that drives me crazy is that there are so many coffees out there to try. And the coffees change from year to year, like fine wines, so each season's beans are unlike the previous season's. How can I possibly drink them all? And, more to the point, how am I going to pay for it?

Friday, July 21, 2006

Today's Roast: Guatamala Antigua Peaberry "Maria Especial "

I roasted this peaberry using my now-standard Sweet Maria's roast curve, minus a minute from the third stage. The first crack came at -2:29 and the second came at -:04.

This coffee looks a bit dark, but not at all oily. The roast is also not particularly even, which was a feature of the last Guatemalan that I roasted.

My Gear

Here is a photo of all of my roasting gear:

Starting from the left, you can see the Britta filtered water pitcher that I use so ensure I start with good water. (It's silly to go to all the effort I go to to roast my own beans and then use lousy water! Even a strong cup of coffee is mostly just the water you used to brew it!) Next is my Krupps burr mill grinder and my now-retired electric drip coffee maker. (I do still use the carafe to measure the water that I pour into the kettle for boiling though.)

Next to that and towards the back is my much abused but still sound Stanley thermos, made right here in the USA, thank you very much. Next to that, my iRoast I. Next to the iRoast is my Chemex manual drip coffee maker, with a filter already in the cone.

To the left of the Chemex is my Mellita Single Cup Black Plastic Drip Thingy, also with a filter in place. This cheap little device sits on top of my coffee cup, and the coffee drips right into the cup. You have to be careful, though, because you can't tell how full your cup is without looking and if the cup overflows you could end up wasting coffee.

The the left of the Mellita Plastic Thingy is my white 1/2 cup measuring cup and, barely visible, a clear-handled brush that I use to clean out my roaster and grinder. Finally, the paper copy of my roasting journal, along with a random pen.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

This Week's Roasts: Mexico, Colombia, and Kenya

This week I finished off the last of the Mexican Pluma Istmo, the Colombian Medelin Supremo, and the Kenya Mchana Peaberry "Lot 405". In each case, the last bit was just a few beans short of a cup. I roasted the Mexican on July 15, 2006, the Colombian on July 17, 2006, and the Kenyan on July 19, 2006.

I roasted the Mexican and Colombian beans using the Sweet Maria's Roast curve, although I set the last stage for three minutes instead of four.

The Mexican bean began cracking at -2:12. I let the roast run the full eight minutes, taking the bean to full city. This is perhaps a bit darker than I had planned.

The Colombian bean started its first crack at -2:00 on the dot. I stopped this roast with :20 left on the clock.

The Kenyan used the Sweet Maria roast profile, but I modified the middle stage by upping the temperature to 420°F. The first crack came at -3:50 but never really did take off after that. I can't say for sure if the second crack ever started, or if the first even finished! This roast reminded me of Sumatran in that respect.

The bean came out noticibly dark looking, but smelling very good, not burnt. Today the aroma of that bean is wonderful, and I am looking forward to the cup. (I am hoping that I can learn to roast a Kenyan I enjoy. I have never enjoyed one of my own Kenyan roasts but I have enjoyed other people's, notably Rich's.)

Both the Colombian and the Mexican were quite good. I noticed a chocolately flavor in the Colombian, especially as it cooled. This is exciting to me because it's the first time in a while that I've been able to identify a specific non-coffee flavor in a cup and it's the first time ever that I've really tasted chocolate. And I do definately taste it!

New Beans

I combined the above roasts because they are pretty much repeats of previous roasts. I just was not inspired to write at length about any of them because I've written about each of them before. However, this pattern may not hold: today an order of coffee came in from my favorite supplier. I got two pounds each of the following coffees:

  • Guatemala Antigua Peaberry "Maria Especial"

  • Colombia Huila "Palestina Micro-region"

  • Mexico Organic Oaxaca "Finca El Olivo"

  • Sumatra Iskandar "Triple-Pick"

My current dilemma: which to try first!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Today's Roast: Indonesia Sumtran Mandheling "Toba" Grade 1

I love drinking this coffee but I sure hate roasting it! It just doesn't crack the way I expect it to. I can never tell if I'm in the first crack, second crack, or maybe I'm really still in the zeroth crack? I just can't tell, this bean is so confusing! Today I roasted it for about 8:20 using the Sweet Maria's roast profile. It looks like a roasted bean I guess; I am no more or less certain about it than I have been any other time I roasted this bean.

This roast was a scant cup, more than the Sulawesi I roasted on Wednesday but still not a full cup. This is a worrying trend. Have I been carelessly overstuffing previous roasts? Or does my formula of three cups per pound break down for this particular supplier? (Both the Sulawesi and the Mandheling were from the same vendor, and it is not my regular most favored vendor.) Or worse: is the formula just flat out wrong?

Today's Cup: Indonesia Sulawesi "Toraja" Grade 1

This is the bean I roasted on Wednesday and this is a pretty good roast for this bean. The acidity of the Sulawesi is obvious but not overpowering, and the earthy taste associated with Indonesians is there to add the depth necessary to support the high notes. A nice bean but so far not one of my favorites.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Today's Roast: Indonesia Sulawesi "Toraja" Grade 1

I had less than a full cup off this Sulawesi left; more like 3/4 of a cup. I roasted it using the Sweet Maria's roast curve (see sidebar). The first crack came early, at -4:07, and continued until -1:36. I stopped the roast at -1:00 which is when I heard the second crack starting. The beans look to me like a City roast, but keep in mind that this is an Indonesian bean and the Indonesians roast light.

The 1/4 of a cup that was missing made a huge difference in the finished product. Because the beans expand so much in the roasting process, a missing 1/4 of green beans left me about 1/2 cup short of roasted beans. Luckily I had so much of the Kenyan; I am going to have to supplement this Sulawesi with another bean to get that second pot.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

This Week's Cups: Costa Rican and Kenya AA Dorman

Today I'm going to talk about my two last roasts, the Costa Rica Tres Rios and the Kenya AA Dorman.

The Kenya came out quite good. I could taste the brightness that is the distinguishing characteristic of Kenyans but did not find the acidity overpowering. I also detected a faint cinnamon aftertaste. Even so, this is not one of my favorite coffees. I still prefer the Indonesians and the Central Americans.

The Costa Rican turned out to be quite gentle, almost too gentle in fact. The total lack of bitter flavors in this coffee make me think that it might be good roasted a little darker, and I intend to try that next. Looking through my notes, I enjoyed this bean before at this very same roast, which makes this cup redundant! I will have to try it again either darker or lighter or (preferably) both.

Tonight I will be posting another roast. I do not know which bean I will be roasting yet but I am thinking something Asian might be nice...

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Today's Roast: Kenya AA Dorman

Today I roasted more of the Kenya AA Dorman. This is one of two Kenya's that I have on hand, and I decided to polish this one off.

I had a little more than 1 cup of beans left, so I roasted the rest in a single batch. This was not the best idea; it would have been better to split it in half and roast in two batches. The roaster looked like it could handle the extra beans, so I went for it. But I forgot to account for the way the beans expand while roasting, and by the time the roast was done the roaster was struggling to keep the beans circulating.

Despite this, the roast was still a pretty even one. I had set up a Sweet Maria's roast curve with a minute lopped off the last stage, to make for an eight minute roast profile. The first crack came a bit late, at -2:40, and I stopped the roast at -:40. When I stopped the roast the beans were evenly roasted and looked to be at about City Plus.

I did make one more error with this roast. I had naïvely figured that, since I have been doing such light roasts lately, I wouldn't need to put the roaster on the oven under the ventilation hood. Unfortunately, the smoke alarms did not agree with my decision and several of them protested loudly.


This Week's Cups: Mandheling, Peruvian, and Columbian

I have decided to post one combined article talking about all the coffees I've drunk this week, instead of a separate post for each one. This is motivated largely by laziness, but also by the fact that my palate is just not as sophisticated as some people's, so I cannot come up with a paragraph on each cup I drink!

Which in a way is a shame, because this week's coffee has been great! Even the Peruvian, my least favorite bean of the week, was in my opinion quite tasty at this week's roast.

My favorite by far was the Sumatran Mandheling, which was such a pleasure to drink that I found myself thinking about it again and again. I'd pour a cup, enjoy it, and then keep wanting more. I would deny myself the next cup for a while--my coffee has to last all day after all--but once I eventually poured the cup it was well worth the wait. At this week's roast, this Sumatran was thick and delicious, with absolutely no bitterness but tons of flavor.

The Columbian was also good. Roasted quite a bit lighter than the Sumatran (for 7:30 rather than 9:00 in fact), it was noticeably brighter tasting. Often that bright flavor is overpowering and unpleasant but in this coffee it was more subtle, and combined with the otherwise clean and open flavor of this coffee it really worked for me. I do plan to take this bean to a darker roast next time, though, but more out of curiosity than dissatisfaction. I liked this coffee alot! (And yay! I have more for tomorrow!) By the way, I just went back and reread my entry from the last time I drank this bean, and had a similar drinking experience. Gracias, Colombia!

Tomorrow is Sunday, and I will drink the last of the Colombian that I roasted this week then. On Monday, I try the Costa Rican, roasted for 8 minutes and which is smelling oh! so good right now. This bean is from my favorite supplier, and I am squirming with anticipation. I drank this bean once before and it was outstanding. Perfect, actually. Unfortunately I cannot find any notes from the cup, but I do have notes from the roast and it matches today's roast. And I don't need notes to remember that I really liked this bean!

Of Pipe Dreams and Windmills

Mike usually does not like my coffee. I think I have figured out why: he is chasing after a dream, and it is not my dream. Mike wants to make a cup of coffee that has that same caramel aftertaste that some of Rich's coffee had. It's hard to do: Rich himself hardly ever does. It seems to most require finding a bean that has the potential to give you that flavor, and then roasting that bean to just exactly the point where that flavor is exposed but not overpowered by other flavors in the bean.

There are a couple of problems with this. First of all, in pursuing this perfect cup of coffee, you are sacrificing the many beans that will never give you the caramel flavor at all. Some of these coffees are heart stoppingly, breath takingly awesome but you will never taste them because they will not give up that caramel hit.

Another problem is that the caramel flavor seems to show up best in mild roasts, and you will miss all of the character of the relatively darker roasts as you pursue the caramel dream. And not all beans taste good at a mild roast; many in fact taste awful that way!

Finally, the caramel hit is quite good, but it is not the only good cup of coffee. I am not sure that it is even necessarily the best cup of coffee. It is an example of a really good cup, sure, but I have to admit that if my coffee always tasted like that I would start to yearn for my full city roasts and a cup with depth.

Chemex Update

I have been brewing with the Chemex since about June 17, and in that time I have perfected the process somewhat. Here is my current coffee brewing procedure:

  1. At least 12 hours and preferably 36-60 hours ahead of time, I roast some green beans. I roast a cup of green beans, which expand during roasting to be a cup and a half, enough for two pots.
  2. The night before, I make sure there is enough filtered water in my Brita pitcher.
  3. When it's time to make coffee, I stumble downstairs and fill the water kettle with more than enough filtered water to fill the Chemex. I set the kettle on the stove to boil. (I use the carafe from my electric drip coffee maker to measure out the water for the kettle. It is the only use I have for that coffee maker now.)
  4. While the water is heating, I measure out three quarters of a cup of beans and grind them. (I know, I should go by weight not by volume, but I cannot do that so I do what I can.) I use the setting two notches finer than the coarsest possible setting on my grinder and this seems to work best. Too fine a grind slows the process down considerably.
  5. After the grounds are ready, I fill my thermos with hot tap water.
  6. Just before the water comes to the boil, I splash some into the Chemex to dampen the filter. I then pour that out into the sink and put the freshly ground coffee into the now wet filter. (I place the filter in the Chemex according to the recommendations posted by Tom on the Sweet Maria's web site. This means I put the 3-ply side against the spout. If you don't understand what this means then you probably don't have a Chemex, so you don't need to understand it.)
  7. Once the water boils, I then add enough water to the filter to soak the grinds and wait 30 seconds for the water to cool and for the coffee to "bloom".
  8. After waiting the previously mentioned 30 seconds, I begin pouring the water into the top of the Chemex. As the water goes through, I keep adding more until the pot is full. I stir with a chop stick or spoon approximately each time I pour.
  9. After the pot is full, I fill my thermos. I then use the left over coffee to make my first cup. There is usually still a couple of mouthfuls, which I pour into a small cup and use to "taste" the brew.

The coffee that is produced by this method is absolutely some of the best coffee I have ever tasted. Ever.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Today's Roast: Costa Rica Tres Rios "La Magnolia"

This is one of my favorite beans, and I roasted this one for 8:00 using my now-standard Sweet Maria's roast curve. The first crack came at -3:20, which is slightly early. (The last time I roasted this bean the first crack came at -3:00.) The second crack started at -:10.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Today's Roast: Colombia Medelin Supremeo

Today's roast comes from Colombia. I roasted this bean using a modified version of the Sweet Maria roast curve (which I have lately posted in the sidebar because I got tired of having to link to it all the time). The modification consisted of shortening the last stage by a minute, so the roast curve is for an eight minute roast. However, since I stopped the roast at -:30, so the roast actually lasted a measely 7:30 (not including the cool down cycle of course).

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Today's Roast: Organic Peruvian Fair Trade

This is the last of the organic Peruvian that Mike gave me out of his private stash. Mike does not like this bean, but I like it as long as it is not roasted too mildly.

Speaking of Mike, I learned a disturbing secret about him today. It is a secret so terrible, so dark, that I hesitate to mention it here. But I cannot keep it to myself, so you my gentle reader shall bear the burden of this secret with me.

When I showed Mike the Sweet Maria's roast curve, he was interested, and ever since has claimed to be using it. However today I found out that he is a big fat liar and in fact has been regularly lopping a minute off of the 3rd stage. On top of that, he still is stopping the roast early! And what galls me is he has been carrying off this little deception for weeks!

The lying little bitch; I should slap him!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Today's Roast: Indonesian Sumatra Mandheling Grade 1 Toba

Today I roasted one cup of this organic Sumatran using my now-standard Sweet Maria's roast. As is typical with this particular bean, recognizing the cracks and distinguishing between first and second crack are very difficult. Actually, every time I roast this bean I end up feeling like the first crack was skipped entirely and the bean only went through the second crack. I'm sure you can imagine the mathimatical quandry this puts me in!

Anyway, I took this bean through the whole 9 minute roast cycle. It went to full city or maybe even full city plus, but it does not seem burnt.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Today's Roast: Papa New Guinea "Arokara AA"

This is a fine bean whose recommended roast is City to Full City. Unfortunately I screwed up this roast so badly that I cannot accurately report anything.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Today's Roast: Java Private Estate Type Prince

This is the 2nd time I've roasted this bean and the first time it was delicious. Luckily for you, the first roast was on May 7, which is before I started this blog, so you don't have to feel obligated to go read that entry. Instead, you should call me and I'll fax you the page from my paper journal. (Ha ha)

This time I roasted a tad lighter than the first time, and I used an unmodified Sweet Maria's roast curve. That's right: today's roast was an entire cup, because on May 7 I just roasted 1/2 a cup. (Each of the 1/2 pound sampler bags is a cup and a half, which comes out to three pots or 30 cups of brewed coffee, and this Private Estate Java is from one of those samplers.)

Anyway, the 1st crack came in at -3:30 and continued until about -2:11. The second started at -1:08 and I stopped the roast at -:58.

I am finally starting to whittle away at the number of sampler bags I have. This is great news, because with them out of the way I'll be able to order more coffee!


Today's Cup: Ethiopean Dry Processed Ghimbi

Today's Ethiopean came out perfect! The only problem with this pot was that it was my work-from-home day, so I wasn't able to share this awesome cup with anybody. On the bright side, it was my work-from-home day, so I didn't have to share this awesome cup with anybody! :-)

This coffee has a pleasant, earthy taste and the flavor lingers long after the mouthful is gone. A very satisfying cup!

A Second Cup

By late this afternoon, my thermos was empty and I was desperate for a cup. I keep a container with stray beans that for one reason or another haven't made it into a pot. Usually it's because the grinder decided it had made enough ground coffee for a pot, even though there were still a couple of whole beans in the hopper. Today the container had a mix of Ethiopean and El Salvador Finca del Carmen, but it was not enough for a cup. (At least, not enough for what I consider to be a cup!) So I tossed in a few of the Guatamalen beans (which I will be drinking tomorrow) and a few of the Java (which is for Friday and Saturday) and soon had just enough beans for my second cup. This unconventional melange was actually quite good, and interesting enough to hold my attention as I savored the cup.

I always use my cheap little Melita black plastic single cup manual drip thingy, which is big enough for a #2 filter filled with enough ground coffee for a mug. You pour in the hot water just as with the Chemex, you just don't use as much. The Melita filters are not as good as the Chemex filters (which remember were designed by a coffee loving German chemist who was probably also an anal retentive perfectionist, God bless him). The difference was apparent in the thin film that floated on the top of this 2nd cup, like a tiny little oil slick. This does not happen with the Chemex!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Guatemala Huehuetenango "La Miravilla"

This is the last 1/2 cup of the Guatemalan that freaked me out the last time I roasted it and that was so successful back at the office. I used what has become my standard procedure for these 1/2 cup roasts and the 1st crack came as expected at around -3:05. I stopped the roast at -:30, which was 10 seconds into the 2nd crack.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Today's Roast: Ethiopean Dry Processed Ghimbi

I roasted my last 1/2 cup of this Ethiopean today for drinking on Wednesday.
I used the same roast that I have been using all week and which I posted on Saturday.

The last time I roasted this bean was on May 3, 2006. Luckily for you, my blog doesn't go back that far, but I complained in my paper journal about an uneven roast. I experienced the same thing with this evening's roast. Most of the beans were at approximately Full City, but a few were so gold that I doubt that they had gone through the first crack.

Last time, the uneven roast did not seem to have any adverse affects on flavor; I positive feedback for this bean. Hopefully I will have as much luck with this roast!