Enough of the hiatus! It's time to shake off my winter doldrums, pour me a steamin' cuppa Joe, and get writing again. And then we'll see if any of my friends still remember that I have a blog.
When last we talked, I told you that dear Lisa had won my blog contest, and she did! And I figured out who she was, we touched base, and before Christmas, she received her gift, which is the subject of today's blog post. Because many of you have asked, "So what the heck did she win???".
Well, it just so happens that she won....a steamin' cuppa Joe, in a manner of speaking. My dear husband, who just oozes talent and creativity, decided several years ago after talking to our friend Chuck the coffee freak, that he wanted to learn how to roast his own coffee beans. This year, he has finally taken the plunge and begun to roast his own Big Bison Brew. He learned how by reading the website of these people:
Sweet Maria's not only sells green unroasted coffee beans of every variety (like the kind you see pictured here), but they also have excellent information on how to actually do this yourself, at home.
Here's our redneck gourmet way of roasting our own coffee beans at home.
First, he conducts this operation outside the house. Coffee beans that are roasting put off quite a significant amount of smoke, and you really don't want that in your house. So, he roasts them on the grill, outside.
Second, you don't need a fancy schmancy coffee roaster. We purchased a Whirley Pop, which is a popcorn popper with a hand crank on the top that keeps the kernels stirring, and my husband drilled a hole in the top to insert a meat thermometer into the pot. Achieving the proper temperature and keeping the beans moving are both important parts of the process. There is a "first crack" and a "second crack" that you have to listen for, as well as watching the color of the beans to be sure you have gotten the depth of roast that you want: in other words, it's an art, and a science - much like creating and recording music is both an art and a science.
Once you have achieved the darkness of roast that you desire, you have to cool the beans quickly, and the directions tell you to stir them in a colander. In a flash of brilliance, my husband took the shop vacuum outside, put the colander in a huge funnel, stuck the shop vac hose up the bottom half of the funnel, and uses the current of air that the vacuum sucks to cool the beans. The man is a genius, I tell you. And it's just such a creative MALE kind of solution to the issue. I think it's hilarious, and I love it! If you want more specific information than that on how to roast coffee beans, you really need to go to the Sweet Maria's website, and you can read your fill.
The whole process takes the Bison about 15 minutes from start to finish, and for our coffee drinking habits, he roasts beans about once a week, so it's not as monumental a task as you might think. And here's one surprising thing we have learned through this process: my guess initially would have been that the more recently roasted the bean, the better the cup of coffee. And that's sort of true, but sort of not true. For the first 48 hours after coffee beans have been roasted, they are still emitting significant amounts of carbon dioxide, so you have to let them "de-gas", as it were, for 48 hours. AFTER THAT, the fresher the bean, the better. But if you brew coffee with them before that, you really will not get the depth of flavor that you desire.
So, I hope you enjoyed my little Major Award revelation update, and now, hopefully, having taken care of this little bit of business, I can move on and write about some new stuff.
And next time I have a blog giveaway, I'm betting I'll have lots of people lining up to win some Big Bison Brew, so that they can wake up and smell the fresh roasted coffee themselves in their own home.