Thursday, January 31, 2008

a couple of pics...

notice the lovely colour change from green to a more generous yellow? This is when all the action starts to take place, and first crack is not too far away...

Here's a photo of my latest batch, which is 70 per cent Tanzanian Kilimanjaro and 30 per cent Guatemalan Cinco Estrellas - the colours in the photo don't really do it justice as the roast is much more even than it appears here...

Ostensibly this photo has little to do with coffee, but it's my munchky-moo, Kalani Moana, aged 21 months, helping me to sort the beans post roast - Kalani is so dedicated that she started polishing each bean individually!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

eliminate the variables

Well... I'm finally happy top say that after a fair amount of trail and error I appear to be on target and back on track in this mysterious and sometimes frustrating business of home roasting!

I decided to vary the mix a little by increasing the pre-heat temperature of my gene cafe, and by decreasing the roast temperature to 200C

But all this did was produce an uneven roast with some beans slightly toasty, and others slightly under-done, leaving a whole lot of messy chaff still clinging to the cooked beans

And when you're using Tanzanian Kilimanjaro beans to start off with - this can be a very expensive mistake!

All was not totally lost, actually, I hand massaged the beans to remove excess chaff, and I found that they came up much better as an espresso 8 days post-roast, as opposed to the standard 3-5 days which I'm used to

On a more positive note I've resorted to what works and I'm pretty much sticking to this formula from now on, and I've seen my most encouraging result to date with a new batch roast of
Guatemalan Cinco Estrellas, which I roasted up today

Sticking to my previously successful formula of 180C pre-roast temperature, and a roast temp of 230C - I'm seeing much more even colouration, with less residual chaffing

I think this is slightly helped by marginally increasing the amount of green beans that I'm using which, I believe, adds to increased temperature stability during the roast

Now I know the Gene Cafe is designed for 300g of green beans each roast, which subsequently lose weight but increase in volume with roasting, but I've avoided weighing the beans and have instead opted for two even 1/2 scoops of beans with the measure provided

By increasing this amount to two slightly heaped spoons, however, I appear to have achieved better than previous results - which may or may not be a function of the Guatemalan beans that I have just started using.

I guess time will tell...

This is probably academic to a lot of folks but you can taste the difference in the cup big time, and to me that's what it's all about at the end of the day:

A fantastic product and a repeatable result that produces great tasting coffee time and time again.

Guatemalan Cinco Estrellas beans were also quite a bit smaller than other beans I've been using, such as many of those from PNG, so I intervened in the roast time and stopped it short at 16min (as opposed to the 'standard' 17min which seems to work well with many larger beans) - as this is when second crack started to kick in.

Although it was two mins into the cooling down cycle that second crack kicked in good and proper; which is the lovely result that I am always looking for, as the beans tend to continue cooking during the cooling down cycle, so you want to manually stop the roast at first sign of second crack

I'll endeavor to upload some photos to give you'll a better look at what I'm talking about

I've also got some video footage that I'm reluctant to use because from memory I mis-pronounce the name of the beans during my commentary... but stuff it I think I'll up-load it anyway to see what it looks like!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

you can not escape your destiny!

On a recent trip to the Sunshine Coast I was surprised to find some of the black gold growing right there in the back of my parent-in-law's house in peaceful Diddillibah!

Apparently the plant is well established and has been there for around 30 years and it's still yielding a considerable crop.

When I asked the out-laws approximately how much fruit appears on the plant they replied easily a good couple of kilos per season - which is enough for a home roast in my books!

So I've asked them to hang onto the good stuff next time (apparently they had just disposed of a good deal of fruit which had dropped off) - and I see what I can do next time I'm up to erect a hasty corretto device.

Going off on a tangent a bit I was so generally disappointed with the coffee on the coast when I went out,( except for a few noteworthy exceptions) - as my previous blog no doubt makes clear - that I invested in one of those 6 cup Vittoria stove top devices that you see in the supermarket, not for the tiny sample of coffee that came with it (but I drank that too - what the hey...), but because it allowed me to make my own coffee when I wanted, where I wanted, just so long as there was an available element of some kind and a water supply nearby!

I was also pleased to hear that the outlaws thought my own home roast which I bought up from Melbourne in fair quantity to be 'superior’ to the esteemed Douwe Egberts - which is there tipple of choice.

This is strong praise indeed considering that they are Dutch...

Friday, January 25, 2008

this is what a $4 coffee looks like in qld

I tentatively ordered a strong cap in Montville on the Sunshine coast, not because I usually drink caps but because I thought it would be harder to stuff it up.

So after parting with $3.50 of my hard earned dosh for the coffee, plus an extra $0.50 for the additional 'shot' - this is what I got! Hot insipid dishwater not fit for human consumption.

I left my coffee as you see it - largely untouched and unremarked upon even when the table was cleared, which is a bit on the nose when you're parting with four large.

Oh well... for this kind of money there's definitely room for improvement and room at the top of the coffee chain for those willing to give it a go

And I know that there are some good operators in Qld because I've visited a few - It's a bit of a walk down memory lane, drinking coffee in Qld, as most places still serve it the same way Melbournians were drinking coffee 20 yrs ago.

Good luck to them - it makes the good guys look gooder (is that a word?)