Monday, December 29, 2008

Welcome to the Neighborhood

10 years ago I lamented the fact that finding excellent micro-roasted coffee in NYC took a lot of work, especially in my Greenwich Village neighborhood. Now I'm surrounded by a great selection of quality roasters and brewers. The latest to open in the hood is Roasting Plant. Check out their site to view their impressive operation -- roasting, grinding and brewing right in front of you in thier store.

I ran into the owner, Mike Caswell, a few weeks back when I dropped by to purchase some green coffee. I think I may be the only home roaster in the neighborhood because my presence in front of the green beans quickly lead to a conversation with Mike about the best way to use my iRoast and some recommendations on what to roast. He steered me toward their fair trade Silewesi, for which I was truely appreciative. Makes a great cup especially on days when I'm craving a nice hot cup with chocolate notes. Thanks Mike!

Best of all, they have wi-fi and they are open 24x7. My wife and my daughter now know where to find me when I'm missing along with the laptop.

Keep up the good work Roasting Plant!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Worst Roast Ever

It seems fitting that I should start this blog with the worst roast that I ever made. Typically, I roast with an i-Roast 2, but I have tried a number of different home roasting methods including stove top popcorn popper, oven roasting, and in this particular case a good ol' iron skillet. Very crude, but that was the point.

I don't remember the beans that I used but I do remember opening all the windows, putting the window fan on high and getting ready to move quick. I figured that the roast would take a while to start but once it got going I was going to have trouble keeping track of the roast temperature. I also figured it would be a pretty uneven roast but from past experience that isn't always a bad thing with home roasting as long as the range isn't so wide that you've got yellow beans and french roasted beans in the end batch.

Well, everything went pretty much the way I expected it to but because I'd planned ahead I kept pretty decent control over the whole thing and the end roast didn't look half bad. I cooled it as best as I could, let it sit around for a few hours and then pulled out the french press.

The verdict: bacon. The coffee tasted as if I'd slathered it in bacon grease, which in a way was true because I'd used my seasoned kitchen skillet that had been my trusty tool in the kitchen for over ten years. The skillet survived. My taste buds on the other hand needed a couple of days to recover.

Lesson to all you fellow home roasters out there: experiment, that's what makes it fun. Just don't use seasoned cookware unless you like your coffee with hints of pig.

In case you haven't figured it out by now, I like to roast coffee in my kitchen in my small NYC apartment. And as you can probably tell by the title, this blog is about coffee. I hope I can share my experiences (and mistakes) and meet a few fellow coffee fanatics along the way.