Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holiday Roast Comeback

A little longer hiatus than I'd intended... but we're finally settled into our new home in Vermont and my mind turns again to various roasting dreams. The big dreams involve using all the empty space in my barn for a real roaster. For now though, I'll continue with my home roasting adventures.

I always roast a little during the holidays, bringing at least one roast with me to the family gathering. But this year, with the cold weather upon us (it was 10 degrees when I got up this morning) it seemed appropriate to spend a lot more time at the roaster and fire up some beans for some friends as we head back down to NYC for the holiday.

I've gotten into a rut over the last couple years and have stuck with my iRoast. This year, however, I wanted bigger batches and I wanted more depth to my roast. So I literally dusted off my Whirley-Pop popcorn popper and tried a few batches.

One aspect of our new house that I originally found disappointing was the electric flat-top range. While it still doesn't top a gas range, after cooking on it for a few months I'm surprised at the high degree of control I have in cooking on it. And for roasting, I've found it very easy to control my temperature, especially if I put my roaster inside a cast iron skillet to help evenly disperse some of the heat.

I chose two coffees from Sweet Maria's this year for my holiday roasts:

Voila! My holiday roaster. Whirley-Pop in cast iron skillet on flat-top electric range.

Measuring out my beans... I found that 9 oz. was ideal for the Whirley-Pop and the bottom of a cocktail shaker is a great way to keep the beans on hand and drop them into the roaster when it hits its target temperature.

Starting my roast. Crank, crank, crank. Crank, crank, crank. Crank, crank, crank. A lot of cranking involved. 12-15 minutes actually. Nice meditative activity. Time to think about the holidays and all your friends who better enjoy all the mind-numbing cranking you did to give them fresh home-roasted coffee.

And the cranking never ends. I like how Vermont has helped me cultivate this Michael Nesmith meets Jarvis Cocker look.

Cooling off the beans outside. The 10 degree temperature really helps cool them down fast. And I get a chance to where my stylish down poofy coat thingy.

Blowing away the chaff. The glasses really come in handy here. Don't want chaff in yer eye.

The final roast. This is the Sumatra Peaberry.

This year I got fancy and packaged my roasts in 1/2 pound coffee bags with pictures of my daughter on them (see image at the top of this post). I chose this picture because she's got the same exact look on her face as I do before I have my first morning cup. Seemed fitting for the coffee bags.

Much more roasting to come in 2010 and many posts to follow...