Sunday, December 16, 2007

paradise found

well... i tend to get there in the end! I know that I still have a long way to go in this whole home coffee roasting business, but it is encouraging to start seeing (and tasting) some reward for my efforts!

in an attempt to keep the out-laws happy for christmas i've roasted up some papua new guinea kimel plantation A for them, and after speaking to the fine fellows from veneziano coffee in abbotsford, i feel like i'm finally on track with my coffee roasting progress!

so this afternoon i roasted up a couple of batches, increasing my pre-heat temperature to 180C, and dropping my roasting temperature down marginally to 230C

i also decided to manually stop the roast as soon as second crack set in, to allow for the relatively slow cool-down process on the gene cafe, which takes 10min on average, during which time the initial temperature is still quite high for awhile, and the beans are still effectively 'cooking' until the temperature drops

anyway, i'm yet to try the end product, and the proof will be in the pudding, but i've included a few photos which i took from my ace new nokia n95, so lets have a look:

this is my newish gene cafe roaster in action. the roast has finished here as the cool down process has just completed

i'm much happier with this batch than my earlier offerings, as i'm learning to intervene in the roasting process a bit earlier, and to stop it short as soon as second crack sets in, to prevent it from over-roasting.

second crack is has a distinctive sound, like that of aluminum foil being crumpled, but it can be quite faint, so you have to watch out for it. i also keep an eye on colouration and smell, and tend to stop the roast when it smells and looks like it's ready

whereas first crack tends to be a lot noisier, more like popcorn popping!

here's a close up of the gene cafe in action.

and the photo at the top of the page is a close-up of the actually beans post-roast! very happy

well... my little family and i are off to qld on holiday tomorrow morning for a few weeks of rest and relaxation, so you may not hear from me for awhile, but feel free to keep those emails coming, and i will do my best to answer them

so until we meet again... take care and merry christmas!

ACG and family

Friday, December 14, 2007

the good oil

Well thanks to the guys from Veneziano in Richmond I now have some Papua New Guinea Kimel plantation A, and some Guatemalan Cinco Estrellas green beans to play with at home.

The boys there even dipped into their 'reserve' supply of Tanzanian Kilimanjaro, which they have imported in small batches especially for boutique blends for the barista comps, and kindly allowed me to purchase a small quantity of green beans to experiment with.

Not sure if these are the same beans that I tried at BBB from St Ali, and it is doubtful that I can replicate the same roast profile at home, but if they are the same beans or anything like them - all I can say is: WOW!

The single origin Kilimanjaro coffee I had at BBB absolutely knocked my socks off, and if I recall rightly I remember thinking at the time that the coffee has a delicious aroma of 'almond slivers and frangipani' - very subtle and knockout flavours that I had not encountered in a coffee before.

My previous incarnation as a sommelier for many years at least equips me with a reasonable vocabulary to explore the enticing aromas of coffee, if not more than a little purple prose!

David (Wushoes?) at Veneziano, and one of the other roasters there, also gave me a few pointers about what to look for in my roast, as they too have a couple of gene cafe coffee roasters out the back for sample roasting.

Thanks for the heads-up, guys.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

second crack

well.. I'm nursing some excellent home brew (coffee that is) at the moment. Some Kenya AA and some Timor Leste A1 which I scored from coffee snobs as part of their starter pack. I must admit I sat on my green beans (not literally) for a couple of months before roasting them, mostly because I was too busy to give them a second thought, but partly because I was a bit apprehensive about roasting them, knowing that I had a steep learning curve ahead of me.

but it's that time of year again, and we decided to only give christmas presents this year that we'd made ourselves, partly to save some money, but mostly because we wanted to invest a little of ourselves in what we were giving.

so after a bit of trial and error with the peru segundus (a good batch to experiment upon given the irregularity in colour and size of the beans: the reason i'm sure that they were included in the starter pack) - where I over-roasted the first batch, and under-roasted the second, you start to get a feel for how it all works

i've got a gene cafe coffee roaster at home which allows you to roast around 300g of coffee at a time, which may not seem like much, but it's actually plenty when you consider how many variables you have to monitor at one time!

the good thing about this machine is that it rotates off access, so the beans are in constant motion, up and down and from side to side, meaning in theory at least that they should roast pretty evenly.

also, you can set the variables so that time and temperature can be individually monitored and adjusted, which is fantastic

so i roasted up quite a few batches, any of them back to back. and even though the gene cafe has its own built-in cooling system, which lasts for 10 min at the end of each individual roast, I felt that the machine was running hot enough to not have to keep pre-heating it to 150C, as I do for the first roast of the day

needless to say at our mates gathering christmas party the home roast went down a treat, and I ordered a bunch of one way seal zip log bags, and hand wrote my own labels, so the presentation was pretty good as well

but the big thing i am noticing is how much i'm enjoying freshly roasted coffee at home!

i'm giving it 3 days or more to allow the beans to degass after roasting, and the crema is unbelievable! much better than what i've been able to produce with less fresh coffee, which goes without saying i guess

at the moment i am experimenting with each batch by applying slightly different roasting times for the same beans. so one batch of the same beans might be roasted to just before second crack kicks in in full, and another might be left until just after, and another a little more after that, until the roast starts to smoke a bit, and the wonderful aroma of the aromatic oils permeates the room and the whole house!

its a good thing that I like the smell of coffee, coz it tends to linger. but my wife hardly touches the stuff, so I tend to be a bit conscious about when i roast so as not to gross her out

my 20 month old daughter is fascinated by the whole process, however, as i explain to her every step along the way

not sure if all that information is sinking in or not, but don't be surprised if we witness the emergence of a master roaster in about 15 yrs time!



Monday, December 10, 2007

gob-smackingly good espresso

a bit about me...

well... it's early days yet, and who knows where this is going? I certainly don't, so I guess it will be an interesting journey to see how it emerges. In a nutshell I am a coffee enthusiast, well, if the truth be told - a fanatic actually, with a passion for all things espresso.

I own a coffee shop here in Melbourne, and am in the process of opening a second one, so wish me luck! I'm a keen coffee roaster of coffee at home, and I'm an active contributor to a number, including the Crema discussion forum (link found below) - of which I am the moderator

I'm also a passionate home coffee enthusiast, and have owned a number of reasonable to semi-commercial home machines, and will happily answer any questions in relation to same - just as soon as I figure out how to do that!

Lastly, I'm an a Mac user, but just about all my complementary technology tools are PC friendly, so sometimes it takes me a while and a bit of know-how to figure things out. So I hope you will bear with me: I get there eventually

So please be a little patient as this site grows, and I'll try to keep it informative and interesting for you.