When I set out to roast coffee for myself, I had no idea how much joy would come from it. For one thing, the quality of coffee I have been drinking has vastly improved. I had settled into a routine. I bought espresso roasts from a few of my favorite sources, including Staufs Coffee Roasters and Lighthouse Roasters. Because of the cost, I decided to limit myself to just a couple of “Americanos” per day, making a pound of coffee last around 12 days. It was a self-imposed exile.
Now I have admittedly doubled my coffee consumption with the reasoning that the more I roast, the more I learn, and because I am buying green beans rather than roasted beans, I not only have a much longer “shelf life”, I am able to roast on demand, so my roasted beans never have a chance to go stale.
There is nothing quite like fresh-roasted coffee from green beans that have been cared for, from the farm to proper roasting, followed by proper brewing. I’m inclined to wax hyperbolic and call it “Heaven in a cup”. But really, it’s just damn good coffee. There’s nothing like it.
I have learned through roasting that every coffee bean has potential that is the result of the plant’s inherent make-up and its growing conditions. Some beans have very limited potential. Others are not so limited because the growers operate small farms and they understand the value of their crop can be increased 300% or more by aligning themselves with the best plants and practices. As a roaster, my job is to buy those beans, paying a fair price, and then finding the best expression of that potential through careful roasting. The HotTop coffee roaster has been a terrific learning tool for me, because I have an incredible amount of control by utilizing heat and air supply, and the information needed to make sound judgment by constantly monitoring temperatures throughout the roasting process.
Currently, I am continuing to expand my learning. I am roasting different coffees using precisely the same roasting profile, to understand the flavor differences inside the bean, and how different coffees respond differently to the same heat. This is in some ways a diametric exercise that corresponds to taking the exact same coffee and roasting to different degrees in order to understand how the flavor changes at different levels of roast.
One of these days, I hope to be able to share my roasting experiences with everyone, because this coffee is just too good to keep to myself!