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Jeff Werner

Designer in Vancouver, Canada. Secretary of the 221A Artist Run Centre, member of Fieldwork design collective, and former exhibit designer at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum and the Vancouver Aquarium. Graduate of Emily Carr and University of Victoria, and worked in the Philippines, Indonesia and the Netherlands. Cycling advocate and race on the Garneau Evolution team.

coffee roasting Daily Activities Food, February 28, 2013 10:05 PM 0 comments

First Roast

Beans before roasting and after.

My buddy Scott went to Costa Rica last year just as we were getting into coffee and he thought he'd bring back a little vacation souvenir to feed the growing hobby: coffee beans. Specifically green beans, unroasted, direct from the farmer. A couple pounds to play around with.

He ended up with 20 kilos. Scooped right off the farmer's ground where they were drying (after paying rather fairly for them). Like I say, on a long enough timeline all coffee geeks tend towards starting coffee businesses.

Anyways a year later he's still got about 19kg to roast, so he left me a couple handfuls over breakfast the other day and said I should try pan roasting them.

The next morning, groggy and alone with my naivety—and restraining myself to one Google result for instructions—here are my results:


From green to brown: after 10 minutes of weeding out duds and dirt, sticks and stones (literally), I put 100g in a small cast iron skillet over medium heat, on an electric range, and started stirring constantly with a whisk. Took these shots every couple of minutes (left to right, top to bottom).


The end result wasn't as evenly roasted as I had hoped, at least in terms of tone, with a variation of approx. three shades of light to dark brown—but not bad. Nothing burnt, at least, though I had to open all the windows in the apartment.

Lap 1 timing indicates when I heard the first 'cracks,' i.e. at 10:22 in; two minutes later and the batch was consistently cracking every couple seconds—not quite like popcorn intensity, but lively enough I hoped. I hit Lap 3 when the cracking seemed to dye down a bit. Pulled them off the heat at 17 and immediately into a steel colander for cooling. Overall not quite as dark as I wanted (I was waiting for a bit of visible oil that never showed) but I like a light roast and didn't want to overdo it, either.

The beans consistently smoked / offgassed during the process and I felt if I left them unattended for longer than an iPhone photo-op a few woulda burnt. The roasting smell was muted at first but soon had a fairly strong, typical aroma: not great but not bad, earthy but not savoury—pretty much like most roasting I've smelled around town.

While stirring to cool in the colander small wisps of shell casings / thin skins (?) began curling and flying off, so I went to the porch to give them a good shaking (took three minutes) to get rid off all this 'chaff' as it fluttered onto Powell Street five stories below.

Once back at room temp I sealed them in a mason jar. The next day I tried Aeropressing 18g, ground coarsely through the Hario mini mill, with 125g at 85 degrees inverted for 45sec and pressed through the paper filter. It IS a pretty light roast (the photo doesn't properly depict it): very acidic, maybe one or two tones, but not too bad. Entirely drinkable, in fact.

Actually, when I tuned the grind by a few clicks finer (and all other brew variables kept the same) it was appreciably stronger, darker, less acidic, more robust. The extent of my coffee palette lingo (and likely my palette, period) kind of wanes at this point, but overall totally worth brewing up the couple presses I have left, and trying another batch over the stove.


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