Friday, January 8, 2010

Recipe- How to Roast Coffee Like a Cowboy

I can buy green coffee bean at the farmer's market here for $5 ec a bag.  That's about $2 for a one pound bag.  I don't think coffee drinking is the rage here- there isn't enough need to be caffeinated.  I don't know what type of beans they are but I don't suppose cowboys do either.  They are local and shade grown and that's about all I care.  The first few times I roasted them they ended up tasting like somewhere between hotel coffee and gas station coffee.  But somehow I have perfected this make-do method and my beans are rich, dark, oily, and fragrant.  They aren't exactly evenly roasted but I've learned to live with that.

Perfect Cowboy Roast

-One cast iron skillet
-One wooden spoon
-One well vented kitchen
-Enough coffee beans to fill the skillet one layer high- they should not be too packed in because it will be impossible to roast evenly at all

Put the skillet on a burner turned on high (or you could use a fire if you are serious about the cowboy thing).  Add the green beans to the still cold skillet and let it heat, constantly stirring them.  You could also do this in a lighter skillet with a lid and constantly shake it over the flame- popcorn style.  I only had cast iron and have learned to make it work.  

Continue to stir until the 'first crack', meaning when they start popping like mad.  You will know you have reached the first crack by the huge amount of satisfaction you feel.  It is usually as the beans begin to brown.

After the first crack still continue to stir- making sure all the beans are getting evenly swished around the pan.  The faster and more thouroughly you stir the better.  You might want to turn the heat down a little by now.  I think it is supposed to be a steady 500 degrees but I never check it.

Once they start browning the husks will begin to come off and create a whole lot of smoke.  If there are other people around it is important to tell them what you are up to before you begin, just in case they think you are burning the house down.

Conitinue cooking and stirring.  When the beans are just about the right color (but a hair lighter), dump them in a collinder and immediatly start shaking it and blowing on the beans.  This cools them down and also allows the stray husks to fly away.  When they are cooled let them flow through your hands and make sure no papery husks still cling to the beans.  Just rub them off with a towel if they are not gone, but they should be.

You can let the coffee get as dark as you want- only remembering it will be a little darker after you take them from the pan because they are still hot and roasting.  A light roast is sometime after the 'first crack' and a darker one is right after the 'second crack' (guess what that means).  The second crack is hard to tell with this method though because the beans roast slightly unevenly.

Let the beans sit twenty four hours before brewing to release CO2.  I put them in a glass jar and leave it open til the 24 hours passed.

Grind them up and enjoy....

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