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Old 08-06-2006, 08:39 AM   #1
ktinkel
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Default My new coffee tools

I have been having fun with coffee-making this past week as I bought a new drip coffee machine (one from the Netherlands that is guaranteed to brew at 200 °F, and seems to do it, based on taste).

And I have a new coffee roaster. We are just getting used to each other. First roast aborted with only semi-roasted beans. Second one looked like Charbucks beans. I think later today I will try again.

It is a drum roaster, like my last (the Alpenrost), but the new one (Gene Café, from Korea) has a glass drum so one can watch the roast. It also has temp and time controls that can be adjusted as the roast progresses (enables me to control the roasting profile, or should, once I get it all doped out). And it has a very effective chaff catcher. My good old Alp had none of those features.

I bought both machines at the same time because both will change the taste of coffee and I figured I would get used to all of it at once. We shall see how it plays out in reality.


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Old 08-06-2006, 09:38 AM   #2
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Will watch your progress with interest. We have some friends who would be interested in roasting, perhaps eventually growing to commercial capacity enough for local sale. I realize it would take a large, commercial machine for even a small operation, but everyone has to start learning about it somewhere, so start small and managable.

   
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Old 08-06-2006, 11:01 AM   #3
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Will watch your progress with interest. We have some friends who would be interested in roasting, perhaps eventually growing to commercial capacity enough for local sale. I realize it would take a large, commercial machine for even a small operation, but everyone has to start learning about it somewhere, so start small and managable.
It is just learning new equipment — this is my second drum roaster and my 7th roaster in all. I have been roasting coffee since the 1970s (only sporadically until electric equipment came on the market in the early 1980s).

If your friends are interested in coffee roasting, why don’t they jump in and see what is involved, and then see if they would like to do it commercially. It is a fraught sort of business — once roasted, coffee has a useful lifetime of 7 to 10 days; once ground, about an hour. (This is for coffee aficionados, of course — I know people drink coffee much older of roast and grind all the time. But custom roasting is usually for aficionados, not mom and pop, who will not pay for it.) Even with more casual standards, the merchandise spoils faster than tomatoes!

And the raw materials keep changing — this season’s favorite bean may not be available next year, or will be very different in style or quality. Many of my favorites (from Papua-New Guinea and Timor) have disappeared, probably because the growers are subsumed by wars or natural disasters. Coffee from other places dries up, perhaps because developers have bought the property and put up a resort. Or maybe woodcutters have stripped the canopy of tall trees that coffee trees need to survive.

And then there are the smoke and chaff. I roast half a pound at a time. I believe if I were to roast more than a pound (i.e., had a larger roaster), I would need to get all sorts of approvals first, including from the environalmental people.

The center for learning about home coffee roasting is Sweet Maria’s web site. I would suggest your friends go there. (Besides equipment and the best quality green beans in the U.S., they have books, supplies, and more.)


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Old 08-06-2006, 02:32 PM   #4
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It is a fraught sort of business —
Important points. Thanks. Knowing these folks, this wouldn't be a casual thought on their part and they'd do it correctly (re: quality standards and health regs) from the start. Given those parameters there still looks like there'd be a market for fresh, locally roasted coffee. There are similar types of businesses in the area already and they're doing well.

Of all the potential issues, I suspect (knowing them) the primary one for them would be finding the right raw bean suppliers.

   
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Old 08-06-2006, 02:42 PM   #5
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KT:

once roasted, coffee has a useful lifetime of 7 to 10 days

Under what conditions? Doesn't keeping the roasted beans at comparatively low temperatures (4 degrees on the Centigrade scale) in closed jars make a difference? And how long does half a pound of ground coffee last your household?

   
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Old 08-06-2006, 04:39 PM   #6
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Of all the potential issues, I suspect (knowing them) the primary one for them would be finding the right raw bean suppliers.
Start with Sweet Marias; end there. <g>


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Old 08-06-2006, 04:54 PM   #7
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Under what conditions? Doesn't keeping the roasted beans at comparatively low temperatures (4 degrees on the Centigrade scale) in closed jars make a difference?
Not a lot. You’re a chemist, and can appreciate what happens to volatile elements when roasted and cooled. If your taste has been modified by experience to accept stale coffee, you can make it last longer than I can, but I know of no way to prolong good coffee flavor for long.

Freezing helps, but only a little. I used to get roasted coffee by mail, and I would immediately put the beans (then four days since roasting) into the freezer, double wrapped to help avoid freezer burn. By the end of the month, the coffee was distinctly stale tasting to the point I couldn’t enjoy it.

Jack drinks coffee only on special occasions; I drink a big mug once a day. A half pound green usually lasts about 5 days, but I usually roast twice a week, and blend the results.


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Old 08-06-2006, 05:02 PM   #8
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Start with Sweet Marias; end there. <g>
Got it! Very fun site! I just started poking around in it. Sent a link to Bruce and was telling him about all this. He's thought about homebrew beer as a hobby, but a good friend here (coincidentally surnamed "Brewer" so it must be in the blood <g>) is the local homebrew expert, so I'm suggesting Bruce not try to compete with that and instead go with his other favorite beverage, coffee.

   
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Old 08-07-2006, 11:18 AM   #9
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KT:

You’re a chemist, and can appreciate what happens to volatile elements when roasted and cooled

I've had a look at several Web sites that say which volatile components have been identified (most of them, and there are a lot), and many of them are lower alcohols, aldehydes, and ketones, most of them branched. There's not much chance of retaining them in ground coffee once a packet has been opened. But in roasted, unground beans the rate-determining step in the loss of volatiles is diffusion to the surface of the beans, which will be greatly affected by temperature. Consequently, I think that your dismissal of the effect of keeping roast beans at well below ambient temperature underestimates it.

But I do admit that we usually keep roast beans (refrigerated) for up to a fortnight, because I'm the only coffee drinker, and have just two cups a day, and my wife doesn't care to buy coffee in the town more frequently than that. It'd be different if we lived near a coffee roaster. I suspect that roasting one's own coffee is desperately uneconomic in both capital outlay and energy costs.

   
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Old 08-07-2006, 11:52 AM   #10
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But in roasted, unground beans the rate-determining step in the loss of volatiles is diffusion to the surface of the beans, which will be greatly affected by temperature. Consequently, I think that your dismissal of the effect of keeping roast beans at well below ambient temperature underestimates it.
This has been debated quite a bit among roasters, including the pros. In blind tastings, freezing has not helped much. Worse, the beans often develop moisture from being opened, closed, and refrozen — and the moisture accelerates staling somehow.

I used to keep coffee beans frozen until use, but within a couple of weeks could taste staleness, and find the coffee virtually undrinkable within a month. But I am a coffee feinschmecker! <g>

And I drink my coffee black, no sugar — so there is no place for off flavors to hide.


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