A cup of coffee – from start to finish.

A cup of coffee – from start to finish.

Or, how I came to make the best pot of coffee I have ever drunk.

I recently bought a coffee plant. I did a small amount of research to determine if it would grow in my part of the world. It arrived healthy. I planted it and placed it outside under cover of the patio. And then, the Icepocalypse hit. It was February in Austin – two years past the Snowpocalypse. This year was far worse for plants than a few inches of snow. Trees collected the rain, which immediately iced. Over a small period of time, branches were carrying so much weight they sank so low that some of them were even on the ground. Branches broke and limbs fell to the ground. It would have been a good idea to cover plants in the garden, however, not realizing just how cold it would get, my coffee plant froze to death. It has not recovered.

Step one in the coffee process – growing my own bean, for me, was an utter failure.

Step one then became the obtaining of green beans. They are not difficult to find on the internet and the recommendation is not to buy bulk – although much cheaper – until you find a bean that is suitable for your taste buds. You might also ask your local coffee roaster about where they source their coffee beans.

As a coffee aficionado, I wanted to experience the entire process. I am not a coffee snob in any way. I grew up in Australia on instant coffee and spent time in Melbourne where the coffee culture is superb – even the average cappuccino is a treat. I have coffee’d around the world, from Turkish (mud) coffee, to the automatic coffee machines that make constipation noises while constructing a semblance of coffee, to the small Nespresso pods in Spain that require 2 seconds of brewing and one gulp to consume. While my preference is a good flat white, if there is coffee on hand, I am able to drink it.

I already have the rest of the process sorted out. It goes like this:

  1. Roast the beans
  2. Wait 24 hours
  3. Grind the beans
  4. Brew the coffee

Step two in the process was a journey. I started with a small hot-air popcorn popper. You pour a small amount of beans into the receptacle and turn on the machine. The first thing to understand is that coffee beans will make a pop sound like popcorn. I have learned that the first pop of most of the beans means a light roast. If you reach the second pop, it will be a dark roast. Somewhere in between is an ideal roast.

And there will be chaff. Coffee beans have a skin around the green bean that will peel off during the roasting. This chaff will get everywhere in the same room where you “pop” the beans. I recommend brewing under your patio where the wind will catch and release all the chaff. The alternative is to spend time cleaning and vacuuming. 

The main drawback was the quantity of beans that could be roasted at one time. Each popping would produce enough beans to grind and brew just one pot of coffee. The effort produced amazing coffee, but it was a lot of work for each pot. Since my popcorn popper experiment, I attempted to roast beans on a perforated baking sheet in the oven. It does require a little more attention, and I soon grew out of this process.

Then, I discovered a coffee roasting drum that was custom made for your specific rotisserie machine. I found a machine I liked. I ordered my custom coffee roasting drum, and when it arrived, I got to work. This drum could roast two pounds of coffee beans at a time. I bought some coffee beans in a little more bulk, and found the right moment to stop the roasting somewhere beyond the first bean pop. I did use those beans in a short few days, and the coffee always tasted fresh.

Step three is to wait. The recommendation is to wait 24 hours for the beans to settle – and this means releasing excess gas. If you’ve ever wondered why bags of roasted coffee beans have a valve, it is so the released gas can escape during the first 24 hours after roasting. Yes, coffee beans fart, but unlike humans, the odor is less noticeable.

I found that waiting only a couple of hours before brewing still produced an incredible fresh tasting coffee. Waiting 24 hours was often difficult, but is always worth it.

Steps four and five don’t need a lot of explanation. Finding the right grinder to suit your coffee tastes is important. This will require some experimentation, as will finding the right grind for your beans. Brewing, again, is a personal option. A standard coffee maker works, but the fancier ones that require you to have a perfect water temperature or a pot over technique will help you with your coffee nirvana.

I moved house some time back and have not yet set up my rotisserie. Since I made a claim on my website that I “brew my own coffee beans”, I am determined to make the time and life my coffee game again. I will keep you posted.

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Trevor Perry