Friday, May 4, 2012

Roasting coffee! Or, "not quite Starbucks"

Let's call this the "before" picture.
Back in the good ol' U.S. of A, where a Starbucks is to be found happily doling out legal addictive stimulants on so many corners around the country, I count myself among the many who on occasion would pay too much for a cup of coffee. Not to mention the experience of listening to music that made me feel cooler than I really am, that defining sense of self one gets when ordering a coffee with seven adjectives (You've Got Mail fans, you know what I'm talking about!), that smell that wafts through the warmly lit room, and whatever equally cool person sits across from you, creating a memory. I admit to missing my grande decaf light caramel frappuccino with whip. But if God can put an avocado tree in my yard in Uganda, maybe there'll be a Starbucks counter in my celestial kitchen.

Ah, but let me not tempt my own discontent any further. Instead, let me tell you about the result of a conversation I had with one of our guards, who let me know that he sells the coffee beans he grows himself. Wow, I respond. My parents (renowned coffee connoisseurs) would really enjoy that sometime when they come over here. Okay! He responds enthusiastically.

Which is why, I understand, he showed up at my gate a couple of weeks ago with a black plastic shopping bag full of green, initially unidentifiable beans of some sort. The conversation that followed was filled with some culturally-related explanations and a little bit of laughter glossing over the fact that I was about to shell out more cash for coffee I didn't truly need. Thankfully, the guard is kind, and thankfully, I got at least a kilo of coffee beans out of the misunderstanding, even if I did have to pay for them.

Later that week, not knowing the shelf life of raw coffee, I did what I do to solve so many of life's little dilemmas. Well, no. I didn't pray about it. But I did go online.

This article actually had a thorough methodology for roasting coffee in a pan. One site joked about pan-roasting being more barbarian. Hmph. But anyway, I admit to being encouraged that the roaster was Ethiopian. That's not far from here, right?

So--beans rinsed for hygiene and for moisture. Check. Beans in pan. Check.
Flame on high heat. Check.
Start roasting, and don't get worried when they roast unevenly. Check. Sort of.

Beans done roasting in about seven minutes. Check! But...oh. Okay. Forgot the "tilt pan to about a 20-degree angle" part. Hmm. You've heard of Starbucks' Blonde Roast, right? This is Janel's Kampala Midnight Roast. It's a teensy bit dark. Still usable, but to be frank, a little on the burnt side. Story of my life here: Live and learn. And sometimes that will cost more shillings than others. At least I only roasted a fraction of them! And at least they're still usable. You know, if you don't mind that robust little extra kick from the excess carbon content.

So now, I've been making cold french press coffees in the morning, steeping them in my fridge overnight. It's no seven-adjective taste of delight, mind you. But it does make 6:30 AM look a little more bright eyed and bushy tailed, and my quiet time a little bit sweeter.

1 comment:

mhutsell said...

That is hilarious. I guess you won't mention how nice it'd be to have something in the future! :) You are definitely getting an education!