A half-ass primer to coffee roasting at home


This morning I made my squirrel-food quality breakfast of mostly nuts, berries and oatmeal with a dash of cinnamon ((Which nuts and berries you ask? The answer: whichever I have lying around, which generally tend to be the ones that were on sale. This satisfies the foraging aspect of any squirrely  meal.)). I love my squirrel breakfast. The only thing I love arguably more or as much is the coffee that goes with and compliments it so dearly.

My love for hearty, slightly-sweet oatmeal  and strong, dark, bitter coffee is something evidently found the farther north you go in Europe. While traveling through Uruguay I met two girls from Norway ((The time we spent together in a small house with a wonderful Uruguayan woman and her 4-year-old son is something I should probably figure out how to write about.)). I remember a fun evening of using Google Images to fill-in the gaps in our vocabularies as we attempted to describe some of our favorite foods. Oatmeal ((Havregrøt in Norwegian and avena in Spanish. The girls made fun of my accent in Norwegian. "He sounds like someone from the capital!")) was high on the non-native-Spanish-speaking contingent's list — my host politely informed me she thought it was "weird" and "something only old people ate" — and we both bemoaned the ver surprising dearth of good, strong coffee in South America ((Despite being a part of the world where much of the world's coffee comes from, drinking coffee is not particularly engrained in the culture. In Uruguay, Argentina and the southern parts of Brazil they're much more into their mate.)).

The only thing better than oatmeal and coffee in the morning though was freshly roasting yourself the day or evening before. Most things are better when they are freshly made and coffee roasting is no exception. It turns out roasting coffee at home is simple, easy, and oddly as or more affordable than buying it at the store — depending on what you're used to and how much of a coffee snob you are. Plus it's great for gifts and makes your kitchen ((Or tiny studio apartment, as was my case during my roasting heyday.))  smell like coffee on a semi-permanent basis.

Here is the super-minimal roasting setup I've used to great effect:

That's essentially it. The ins-and-outs of roasting and brewing a perfect batch could be written about forever, but the experimentation is part of the fun. Oh, and if you live in Portland, Oregon I highly recommend walking into Mr. Green Beans up on Mississippi Ave. They have all of this stuff and can talk you through it better than I can.

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