Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Green Coffee Beans are tough to find

Yesterday I had decided that I needed to experiment and try to roast my own coffee.   I had read about the process before and it just did not sound all that difficult to do.  You can find many primers and write ups on the process and my suggestion is that you should try it if you truly like coffee.

But I am getting a bit ahead of myself.   If you want to try to roast coffee, you will have to find some equipment.  The first thing you will need are a supply of some good coffee beans.  Green unroasted beans are not all that available. I spent the entire afternoon searching for a ready supply of beans in Broward county and came up without.  I had heard a rumour that Whole Foods would sell beans but my local store in Fort Lauderdale on Federal Highway was a smaller one and did not have some of the amenities that the larger ones did so I assumed that the rumour was unfounded.

Finally after speaking to about five roasters one said try the larger Whole Foods stores.  After a phone call, I hit pay dirt at the Boca Raton store.  That meant that I had to act fast.   There was a severe weather front coming through the area, and if I was to go up there, I was going to go for dinner.  I had to get Mrs Dog walked, and then get in the car and drive the fifteen miles to Glades Road for the beans. 

I did all of that and managed to find a parking space in the lot away from the valet, a trend that has to stop, and managed to walk through the ending rain to the store.  I had been told that Whole Foods had some rather excellent fresh cooked food there that you could eat there or take away so I wanted to experience that as well.   The day was starting to get expensive!   I had found the hot bar and selected some Indian food with three separate dishes including some excellent Chicken Vindaloo and a Bass Ale to wash it all down, had my dinner and went to eat.

I hadn't seen the green beans but it was worth the second pass of the place since I didn't know this particular store.   Once I finished the meal, and blew my nose from the spices making it water, I got up to walk around the place.   They actually have a coffee roaster in house, and there were about 9 green bean varieties there so I was successful. 

This was to be my very first attempt at roasting coffee so I only got a pound of beans.  The beans cost 11.50 and were very dense.   This was a bit of a shock when I got the bag as it was only about 1/2 full.  Very very dense beans since they were full of water that would be cooked out in the roasting process. 

Another notable thing is that to call them beans is quite correct.  The industry sometimes refers to the actual bit on the tree as a "Cherry" since there is red flesh around it, but the inside of the bean is what we're used to seeing roasted.  While driving home I popped one into my mouth.  I would do that while walking around stores that had roasted coffee by the bean in a bin, and that was how I got an appreciation for the varieties of coffee.  In this case, a bean has little taste until you chew it and then it tastes like a raw pea or a raw soybean.  A very green flavor, almost nutty, and tough.   With all the moisture still in the bean, it doesn't have that crunchy texture you'd get when you go to grind it.

So now there is a bag of beans on the counter, and I shall roast these.   When I am through, I'll find that I have some experience and may try another variety since I am quite partial to Kona, and Kona requires finesse in the roasting.   I did find a couple web sites for places that supplied green beans in bulk and will try those next time as I get low.   After all, Whole Foods is nearby and has an excellent Hot Bar and has the Costa Rican coffee that I tried, but I will want to try another variety later on.

As for the process and the results... stay tuned!

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