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Coffeee Roasting Oops or Yay! More Coffee Scrub!

April 14, 2012

First -- fair warning. The video quality is really poor -- I was playing with new tools and I'm a coffee person, not a production person. That said, I figured I'd share my big coffee roasting oops this weekend:

Friday afternoon, I figured I'd take a little bit and roast up some of the Congo Kivu beans I picked up last week. I'd already roasted a couple batches of it, so I knew more or less what to expect. I measured out about 1/2 cup of coffee beans (side note: I'm giving in and ordering a digital scale so I can get more precise measurements for roasting and brewing. Apparently, THIS is my rabbit hole.), poured them into the roast--er, popcorn popper, and decided to leave the lid off so I could capture it on video. I started taping at about 2 minutes in. the beans were still obviously green but starting to tan up a bit. 

That first batch went so beautifully, it was practically textbook. I heard the first little pops of first crack at just about 5 minutes in, and the beans were a lovely, even cinnamon brown. By 6 1/2 minutes, there was a nice, rolling first crack going, and a little after 7 minutes it had simmered down to almost nothing. The beans were about the color of milk chocolate and the chaff was flying -- mostly into my hair. By 9 minutes, I was hearing the preliminary sizzling of second crack, and at 10 minutes, the beans sounded like a bowl of Rice Krispies. I dumped the beans for cooling at just after 11 minutes, and they were a glossy, deep brown, beautifully even and perfect -- no bean chips, no mottled beans, no cracked beans.

Needless to say, I was feeling a little cocky going into the second batch. I figured I'd get a better video the second time around, maybe with better audio and narration. I measured out the beans, turned on the machine, set up the camera and started recording. At 5 minutes in, I noted that we should be hearing the first pops any time now... but we didn't. And the beans were still a sort of grayish-green instead of the toasty cinnamon I expected. Odd. Same beans. Same machine. Sorta significant difference. By 7 minutes in, I was getting really puzzled. Still no first crack, though the beans were getting to a more cinnamon-y color -- a little uneven, but still, they were roasting. Nine minutes -- still not a single crack, but I was starting to see little bean chips among the chaff. Obviously, something had gone very wrong with this batch but what? 

oops coffee roast

And that's when I realized that I had neglected to put the plastic chimney onto the air popper. The chimney helps concentrate the heat -- or at least keeps it from dissipating too quickly. Instead of getting a nice, hot roast for the second batch, I'd pretty much just baked them -- and it really showed. The beans from the first batch were glossy, smooth and looked like they were bursting with flavor. The beans in the second batch were a different story. A lot of them were chipped, and the seams were deep and ashy looking. Many of them were split and you could see nothing inside at all. Most of them crumbled easily if I just dug a thumbnail into them. Le sigh.

But -- on the bright side -- these were the $2.65 beans from The Captain's Coffee, not an outrageously expensive speciality bean. And they're just perfect for mixing up with glycerin to make a batch of coffee-sugar scrub, which I'm just about out of.

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