Letter Re: Do It Yourself Coffee Roasting

After reading some information in SurvivalBlog about roasting green coffee beans I thought I could offer some useful info on the subject, since I’ve been a coffee supplier and roaster for about 10 years.

Let’s assume the grid is down—how does one roast coffee? You can do it over an open flame such as a propane burner, or campfire. In the days of cattle drives the cook would roast in a cast iron pot just stirring the beans constantly. If you do that then a peaberry type coffee bean works best because they are more round, and my research tells me that that’s what many of the old cooks packed. Regular beans have a flat side and have a tendency to burn some of the beans on that side regardless of how much you stir.

But here is the method I’ve tried and it worked reasonably well. Use a good heavy duty wok pan. (Avoid a Teflon-coated wok pan at all costs). Place 6-to-8 ounces of green beans in it, and over the hot fire flick it forward like a chef does, doing so constantly. In a few minutes the beans heat up and you can hear the first crack of the beans, it’s not very loud so listen carefully. Keep flicking —chaff comes off, and when the first crack has stopped you can stop the roast. For future roast adjust from the stop of first crack—you can go on into a less audible second crack in a minute or so for darker roast. Going to the end of second crack will give you a French roast that some like. Understand that this will give you a decent roast, not perfect as some beans will roast up unevenly, but you will definitely like it better than canned coffee, I guarantee it, because it’s fresh roasted.

Now here’s a vital point to your roasting: when you have it just where you want it—end of first crack, or into second crack, whatever, the beans have to be cooled as quickly as possible. The most practical way I found was dumping them back and forth in two colanders, 3 or 4 minutes at least. If possible, allow the beans to degas for at least a day, but don’t roast up more than you’ll need for a few days. Store in Ziploc type bags in a dark place, but leave a small opening in the zipper to release the built up CO2 or the bag could burst. After that keep it sealed between uses. Have a hand grinder, or as the cowboy cook did, mash between two hard objects. If you’re just throwing your grounds into hot water use a course grind, and don’t boil the coffee, let it steep for about four minutes.

I am not trying to present myself as an expert coffee survivalist, but with some practice you can make excellent coffee truly from scratch. But why wait til for a collapse? Practice doing it now. Charlie at Cme Brew Coffee.