Aug 10

Roasting my own coffee beans

I used to be able to buy that Lavazza ground stuff (or Illy, or whatever), put it into a stovetop, and drink it with warm milk.

How things have changed. I now freshly grind my coffee (with a Baratza Vario coffee grinder) no more than 30 seconds in advance of the espresso extraction. It’s the only way to get that freshness and crispness I’m used to. I use a Rancilio Silvia to make my poison, and I can only buy my beans from Monmouth Coffee, where I know they have roasted them within at least the last few days.

The reason is that the beans deteriorate after about 10 days after roasting, in a way that is noticeable in the cup. I’m not a snob, I just have picky tastebuds. I can’t help that.

(It always amuses me, therefore, when people talk about the relative merit of one type of coffee over the other, in a supermarket. How any of it can be considered good is beyond me, when the stuff has been on a shelf for months. I guess it serves a purpose, but – yuk.)

The problem:

  • Freshly roasted beans – really fresh – are expensive in the first place
  • They are more expensive when you throw them away because they are no longer fresh and you didn’t get through them all quick enough
  • Getting freshly roasted beans (really fresh) is costly – postage from mail-order, a trip into central London
  • The beans are never there and fresh, when I want them.

A for-instance:

  • I buy 750g of beans because I made a special visit to Monmouth Coffee, use 125g, then because life is unpredictable I have to go away for 7 days then the remaining beans get thrown away (ack). Then I get back … to no beans (double ack). I have to wait at least a few days before I can get fresh stuff again (ack). During that time I have to visit cafés three times a day. Wow. A LOT of wasted beans, time, and money.

That’s 9 shades of annoying. And 4x ack.

I go away, I come home, I want fresh beans, right here, right now!

Cafés don’t have this problem. They get through so many beans each day they can afford a shipment every day. If they overorder / undersell one day, they can use rollover beans the next day, and reduce the order the following day. Beans always fresh. Not so chez Mat.

The solution:

Buy a home roaster. Store my own green beans for 6 months. Cheap! Fresh!

I have no desire to roast my own beans other than to get around the terrible feeling of coming home to no coffee.

Actually, that’s a lie. I love the thought of defining my own roasting profiles, choosing the type of roast according to my mood, experimenting.

So I am the proud new owner of a Behmor coffee roasting machine. None of this pokey air roasting rubbish. A proper drum roaster thank you. Complete with chaff and smoke management systems.

I’ll post back when I get some results from this thing!