Monday, May 26, 2008

Coffee Happenings (and Mishappenings)

In my first few months of roasting coffee, I was keeping the beans in the roaster for longer periods of time, getting well past 1st crack, the Maillard Reaction, and into (sometimes beyond) 2nd crack. This made for a lovely, dark roasted bean, but I began to find that the flavor profiles were quite similar: bold sweetness, minimal acidity, caramel/toffee flavors. While remarkable to drink, it was clear that I was tasting the features of a dark roast, and because the roast had gone for so long and much of the sugar had burned off, much of the innate uniqueness of the beans themselves had been roasted away.
Not to worry, because with the versatility provided by my roaster, and the ability to watch the roast process proceed second by second, sound by sound, and smell by smell, I've tried to shorten my subsequent roasts to stay more in the City Plus to Full City range, with a focus (using sense of hearing) on staying well away from 2nd crack.
Definitely now, as I've slurped through cups of Sulawesi Enrekang "Mount Alla" and Ethiopia Organic Dry-Process Golocha, the fantastic taste profiles unique to each selection come through. I can see how a wine taster trains their palate, because these coffees are incredibly variegated. There's chocolate and pepper in the Sulawesi, with a clean, short finish, and a fruity, acidic opening in the Ethiopia, and a long creamy finish.
Today's cup, roasted two days ago by my beloved Jess (in her first-ever roasting effort) was a true sparkler. She prepared a City Plus roast of Guatemala Antigua-Finca Retana Yellow Bourbon beans, and it's one of the nicest we've tried so far. Fruit up front, then brown caramel, then a long finish reminiscent of, as the name implies, bourbon. Just a triumph!
In the midst of all this deliciousness, I pulled off a fabulous blunder in the process of grinding my beans. So, as everyone knows, the beans go in the receptacle, then through the HOLE into the blades, then into the collector, then to the filter. So I put some beans into the receptacle and realized there wasn't enough. I didn't want a blend of beans, so I took off the receptacle to trade them out.
And forgot about the HOLE!
With a playful clattering, the beans tumbled out and proceeded to leap and bounce all over the kitchen. Seriously, all over the kitchen. After picking them up on an individual basis, I write this with a sore back and a clear reminder that coffee beans, like everything else in this world, are answerable to gravity.

1 comment:

margaret Shapiro said...

Mark, I just loved this post and read it twice. So rich in flavor, so funny in style and so delightful to imagine. I think it is so interesting to develop a refined taste for coffee. I love it. Keep sharing your coffee stories, as they bounce all over the kitchen....... Thanks, Mom