Roasting Coffee from Home

This story originally appeared on the Gents Cafe Newsletter. You can subscribe here.

When I first opened a bag of green coffee at home, I understood quite quickly that there was a challenge at hand. From having the aroma of freshly roasted coffee in mind, I opened up the air passages and inhaled a smell much closer to dry pet food. A long road stretched ahead of me. Maybe I should’ve Googled it first. But — in true Copeman style — I went in blind and came to the following conclusions.

There’s little more painful than holding a small hand coffee roaster a little too close to the stove and burning your fingers; more taxing on the wrist than constantly agitating the beans to roast them evenly; or more mentally straining than calculating weight loss and keeping an eye on caramelisation, the first crack, and development time.

But there’s also little more satisfying than smelling that pet food stench develop into chocolate and caramel sweetness. And there’s something quite primitive about working over a naked flame — an inch or two away from burning— navigating the elements of oxygen, heat, and gas. Nowhere near to an ancestor cooking over an open fire but if you squint your eyes you’re close enough.

You watch the green beans turn a shade of yellow and keep it turning until you hear that first crack when the pressure inside the beans gets too much to contain. Now they’re browning and you start to recognise them. You’ve seen them in all your favourite coffee shops. All over your social feeds. Now your work is paying off.

You finish and consider resting them for a week or two. But it’s a Saturday morning so you grind them for the love of Saturdays and not having any plans. You even set up a small spot on the table and set the scene for the finale of this ritualistic endeavour you’ve embarked on. This adventure from green coffee beans to a drinkable coffee — so rich and brown and golden and yours.

You brew your coffee and when that first sip hits and you taste the chocolates and the nuts, or the berries and the citrus fruits, you walk around a little taller, a little buzzier, a little more dignified. So much so that you decide to go through it again, and again… and again. Going head-to-head with coffee shops and roasters around the world from your kitchen. A David against the Goliath.

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