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Archive for the ‘coffee’ Category

At our house, we frequently have leftover coffee in the pot long after everyone is done wanting hot coffee.  Usually the pot gets turned off and the leftovers sit there until they get dumped out just prior to my making a new pot of coffee.  The only exception to this process is when my husband is traveling and I make coffee to take with me in a travel mug to work.  Since I have to make a minimum of a 4 cup batch in my coffeemaker to get decent coffee, I will pour what I want into my travel mug, turn off the coffee maker and pour the remainder into a regular mug that can be microwaved, cover it with Glad Press and Seal, and put it in the fridge.  Since it is fresh coffee promptly refrigerated, the next day I can reheat it in the microwave, pour it into my travel mug and add my cream and sugar and not have to make coffee on the second day.  The second day’s coffee may not be quite as fresh as the first day’s, but it tastes fine and I feel better about saving time and money.

But on to iced coffee. I have tried in the past to make iced coffee at home with varying degrees of success.  Yesterday I did a web search and found several sites offering advice.  Here is a slim page with some of the links I found most helpful (this blog post is included as one of the links).

http://alpha.searchlikeme.com/slmpages/648/

This morning, I made a larger than usual pot of coffee so that I would have leftovers.  After everyone had coffee, there was still about 3 ½ cups left in the pot.  I poured the hot coffee into a glass pitcher (Yes!  Finally a use for an antique pitcher I didn’t know what to do with) that I had warmed with tap water first (didn’t want to risk it cracking).    One site recommended adding the sugar to the hot coffee so that it dissolves well.  That’s always been one of my problems with iced coffee.  I doubled the amount of sugar I use in hot coffee, so I added 6 teaspoons of sugar to the 3 ½ cups of coffee in the pitcher, stirred well, covered with Press and Seal ( I love Press and Seal!) and put it in the fridge.

At lunch, I filled a glass with ice, poured in the cool coffee (it was in the fridge for only a couple hours and hadn’t fully chilled yet) to fill the glass just over halfway.  I then added about the amount of half and half I would use in a cup of coffee and filled the rest of the glass with 1% milk.

Turned out great!  I still have half a pitcher of coffee in the fridge so we’ll see how well it keeps if the kids don’t figure out how to make their own and use it all up this afternoon.

If you try it, let me know how it turns out.

Best regards,

Lynn

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Many years ago I somehow stumbled upon instructions for roasting your own coffee beans at home and decided to give it a try.  I just checked my logbook (yes, logbook – I am an engineer after all – I keep track of EVERYTHING) and I roasted my first beans in April 2003, so that means I have now been roasting my own coffee for six years!

When I first started, I did not want to invest too much in equipment, so for the most part I made do with things I already had.  The final product was so good that I have been roasting my own beans ever since and have not changed my procedure much at all.  Even if I wanted to stop, my husband would not be happy, since he is quite attached to home roasted beans now as well.

First things first.  You need a good supplier for your green coffee beans.   There are many purveyors of green coffee beans on the internet, but the following site is the one I use and trust.  I would not dream of ordering from anyone else.  They are quite reputable.  Service is fast and the product is excellent.   I have no ties to them other than as a satisfied customer.

http://www.sweetmarias.com/

They have roasting instructions on their site, but I have worked out my own method.  I preheat my oven to 500 degrees (Fahrenheit) for at least 10 minutes.  My new electric oven takes more like 20 minutes to hit temperature, so make sure you know how long your oven takes to preheat.  It is important that the oven be fully heated before the beans go in – you want them to roast, not bake.

Meanwhile, I have a pizza SCREEN where I spread the beans.  It has to be an actual screen, with the biggest holes you can find that are still small enough so the beans don’t fall through.  I wouldn’t use a perforated pizza pan – I don’t think it is open enough on the bottom to get even roasting on the bottom side.   I have a scoop that holds about 1-2 T. of beans and I had been using 12-15 scoops per batch, but recently have experimented with increasing that amount.  It just depends on your oven and other factors.  Experiment!

The beans should be spread mostly in a single layer to brown evenly.  In my oven, I roast for about 10-12 minutes.  You may have to adjust based on the conditions in your kitchen.  Try not to check on them too much though.  You really want to maintain an even and steady heat in the oven.  Plus opening the oven can release a lot of smoke.

If you have a decent range hood, it will probably pull most of it out, but our hood is over the cook top and doesn’t really pull much smoke out of the main kitchen area.  It is likely that you will set off your smoke detectors.  You can stand on a chair and fan smoke away from the detector, but that gets old rather fast.   After a couple years of putting up with the smoke, my genius (I say that with no sarcasm – it was a brilliant idea) husband finally thought to cover the smoke detector with a Tupperware bowl while we are roasting.  It also works when you run the self cleaning feature on the oven, which also sets off our smoke alarm.  Our first floor alarm is in a hallway, so we use a piece of wood wedged between the opposite wall and the bowl to hold it up.  For safety, please take it down as soon as the smoke from roasting clears.  We leave the step stool in the hallway to remind us.

The beans will be done when they are about the color of dark chocolate, with a slight oily sheen.   You will hear them start to pop as they begin to roast.  There are roasting terms of “first crack” and “second crack” that can help you determine roast levels, but I mostly use the popping to tell me that roasting has started and do most of my evaluation by eye.   Different beans are recommended to different roast levels and the Sweet Maria’s site gives a good explanation of all those roast levels.

Roasting will result in some light feathery “chaff” being loosened from the beans and you have to get that off somehow.  I take my beans from the oven straight outside.  Then I take two colanders and toss the beans back and forth between them (Gently!).  This serves to loosen the chaff and cool the beans.  Works great on a breezy cool day, but anytime is fine, it just takes a little longer if there is no wind.  I let them sit out in the colander until cool, then store in a jar until ready to grind.

Sweet Maria’s does sell some countertop roasters that also probably work well and would be simple to use.  When I started roasting a few years ago, they were a bit on the pricey side and had some design flaws, according to other users on a roasting list I was reading at the time.  Hopefully by now the bugs have been worked out, but I would research them a bit before buying.  There are also techniques using modified hot air poppers, heat guns, etc., but I find my oven roasting method to be cheap, easy, and not much different than cooking and I don’t have to store a lot of extra equipment.

As to coffee varieties, Sweet Maria’s puts together some nice “sampler” packs of green beans.  I usually get one of those anytime I order just for a little variety, though as a rule, I favor Indonesian beans.  Indonesian beans seem to me to have the richest, fullest flavor.  South American beans are lighter and maybe a bit more acidic.  African beans I do not have a feel for.  I know they make a nice blend with Indonesian beans but not sure on the characteristics.  To be honest, I can only notice a difference between regional beans, not all the specific varieties they sell.  I have been happy with the taste of everything I’ve roasted from Sweet Maria’s and usually buy one large sampler pack plus about 8 pounds of other varieties that sound interesting.  That keeps me in coffee for almost a year.

I hope you found this information helpful.  Please post a comment or drop a note if you would like more information.

Best Regards,

Lynn

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