Morning Rituals: Roast Your Own Coffee

 

 

 

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Imagine this: Your alarm clock is going off and you stumble around mid dream to the realization that that is in fact, your alarm going off. DANG IT! Then you hit the snooze! A few times… When you finally get yourself up, you’re groggy and need coffee immediately. UNLESS! You’re a morning person and if that’s the case then BUG OFF! 😉

Yet we partake of the magic elixir known as coffee. I’ve swore I’m going to quit it over and over because I don’t like that it CONTROLS MY LIFE! and I do quit for a bout a month or more then I can’t take it anymore and I go right back to it. So to embrace my addiction hehe, I thought I’d talk a little about my history with coffee and tell you guys how to roast your own coffee beans.

My history with coffee

 

My first interaction with coffee was always being curious as a little girl wondering why my dad always ordered it at the Apple Tree (Which no longer exists in the little town on Sparta, it was replaced by a Chinese buffet). You know the little cups creamer comes in? Well, one time when my dad ordered coffee I expressed an interest and he made me a “mini” cup with the creamer cup and I tried it and liked it but that’s about as far as it went.

My next interaction was with my sister Tammy. I don’t support cigarette smoking whatsoever but I remember her saying, “If I have a cup of coffee and a cigarette in the morning, it’ll be a good day.” (She passed away in 2007, I sure do miss her!!) I never shared her love for coffee at that point but I was in my teens I didn’t need the extra energy. My love for coffee probably came from Jeremy (the hubs) because it was special to go in the morning to have coffee at Starbucks and chat.

In the process though… He created a monster. It started with a simple little vanilla latte, then to caramel fraps, then the specialty ones that are only seasonal (hate that btw!) My weakness was caramel brulee latte. LOVED IT but it was starting to get rather costly so as you know from a previous post, we invested in an espresso machine. Then, I would buy the starbucks syrup off of Ebay when it was out of “season.” Still expensive compared to making your own Syrups!

I go through phases. Sometimes I just want regular old coffee. Other times, I like my lattes. Still yet other times when I’m just in a hurry and don’t want to spend a lot of time, I like to brew an espresso shot by itself. Right now I’m kind of in the regular ole coffee stage but I’m getting to where I can’t stand Folgers anymore. Maybe it’s because since Jeremy’s coffee pot finally gave out he started using my percolator. The only way I used my percolator was the pot itself. I’d heat up water in my kettle and pour it over the grounds. I really liked it that way but now he has taken it over as his “Coffee Maker.” It reminds him of his grandma and grandpa because that’s how they always made their coffee but to me… It just taste burnt.

My newest coffee experience is that I have been ordering green coffee beans on Amazon and roasting them myself. I didn’t think it was that much of a difference but when I went to Starbucks the other day as a treat to myself–I got a White Mocha Latte–I was sorely disappointed! It tasted burnt, just over done. The latest coffee shop experience I had before that was at Dunkin Donuts. Then I tried Jeremy’s Folgers… Eck. Then I made my home roasted… DELICIOUS! Very mild. I LOVE IT!

So I guess I’ll tell you another way how I’ve ruined my life with coffee taking control yet again: roasting your own coffee beans.

Choose Your Poison

You need to find some green coffee beans. I just went to Amazon and looked around. The company I ended up using was Heirloom Coffee, LLC The first type I got was Costa Rica Dota Estate (Nectar) here’s the product info,

“We seldom get “nectar” coffee in the USA because it is such a limited picking. What makes “nectar” coffee? It is the first picking of the harvest, right after the rainy season, with the highest sugar content (sap/nectar) in the bean before the dry season really sets in. Farmers often give this micro-harvest special treatment, as in this case when the producer adjusted the washing methods to minimal water, to preserve some of the pulp to enrich the beans during sun drying.

The extraordinary nature of this first harvest starts from an incredibly select picking of ripest beans only, through special drying processes, resulting in a coffee so superb it is almost in a different class from anything else produced in the region that season. Move over Geisha, Dota Estate Nectar Coffee is in town!

When we talk about “sugar” in coffee, it is not to say that the coffee tastes like it has been sweetened, but rather that the character of the coffee is so smooth and free of bitterness due to the “nectar’ present in the bean during processing that the coffee is perfect for drinking black if desired. In Costa Rica, the tradition is to serve coffee with warm milk and sugar, but in the case of the nectar coffee, it is often consumed without any added sugar, because the brew already has a strong honey taste and tone to it. The amount of “honey” in the taste is adjusted by the roast level. You will enjoy trying this coffee at dark and medium roasts to compare the difference, it is amazing how different the profiles are.

We have a limited supply of rare nectar coffee, and when it is gone it will be unavailable until next season.

As with the main harvest, this coffee is safe & sustainably grown with virtually zero environmental impact, at altitude of 2000 m (~6000 feet), in Dota canton, Tarrazu.” [1]

My second pick was Nicaragua Matagalpa Catimor Arabica which I like even more. You can look up the info by clicking the link.

Choose Your Roasting Method

There are a couple of options. Depends what you have available to you and if you willing to purchase something to work for you. Originally I wanted to use a heat gun because I knew there was one abandoned on the homestead but it was broken– as I soon found out– so I ended up buying a popcorn air popper. (By the way, you’ll need to get one that blows hot air in from the sides and not upwards–not that I know that from experience or anything…)

  • Stove top/frying pan method
  • Oven roasting method
  • Heat air gun method
  • popcorn air popper method
  • air roaster

There are you options but I’m only covering one and not too in depth. If you want more in depth, I learned from Sweet Marias. They go in depth and tell you different ways to roast your beans.

How to Roast Coffee Beans

It’s actually fairly simple and doesn’t need too much explanation but here you go anyway:

  1. Make sure there aren’t any rocks or debris in with you coffee beans. Depending on where you got them from… My place comes straight from the farm so sort it like you would regular beans.
  2. Add coffee beans to your air popper (I use a nostalgia, I got it from Bed Bath and Beyond for around $20) and don’t over do it. When you turn the machine on, they should spin. If they aren’t, you over filled it. Best way to know, measure your amount once you get it right the first time and just remember that’s what fits into your machine. (I should also tell you, you need to have a container to catch the chaff that’s going to shed off the beans)
  3. What you’re looking for as far as the roasting goes is “cracking” noises but since the popper is loud, you’ll have to pay attention. For me, most of the time I let it run a bit and just turn off to check the color but be careful because it will burn if you let them sit for too long. When I notice it is starting to brown I turn it off and listen for the crack. First crack (Blonde roast aka light roast) will be light sounds whereas Second Crack (medium roast) is a bit more volatile. You can go past that which leads to the darker roasts. If you go past that… I wouldn’t it. It will end up like the first batch I did…. Charcoal roast 😉
  4. Once you reach your roast preference, pour beans into colander or something similar to cool them. They them cool 4-8 hours.
  5. Grind up and enjoy!

Video of my air popper

Extra Info

As far as knowing your roasts and first and second crack here’s how to know from Sweet Marias:

“- Yellowing: For the first few minutes the bean remains greenish, then turn lighter yellowish and emit a grassy smell.

– Steam: The beans start to steam as their internal water content dissipates.

– First Crack: The steam becomes fragrant. Soon you will hear the first crack, an audible cracking sound as the real roasting starts to occur: sugars begin to caramelize, bound-up water escapes, the structure of the bean breaks down and oils migrate from their little pockets outward.

– First Roasted Stage: After the first crack, the roast can be considered complete any time according to your taste. The cracking is an audible cue, and, along with sight and smell, tells you what stage the roast is at. This is what is called a City roast.

– Caramelization: Caramelization continues, oils migrate, and the bean expands in size as the roast becomes dark. As the roast progresses, this is a City + roast. Most of our roast recommendations stop at this point. When you are on the verge of second crack, that is a Full City roast.

– Second Crack: At this point a second crack can be heard, often more volatile than the first. The roast character starts to eclipse the origin character of the beans at this point and is also known as a Vienna roast. A few pops into second crack is a Full City + roast. Roasting all the way through second crack may result in small pieces of bean being blown away like shrapnel!

– Darkening Roast: As the roast becomes very dark, the smoke is more pungent as sugars burn completely, and the bean structure breaks down more and more. As the end of second crack approaches you will achieve a French roast.

– Ack!! Too Late!: Eventually, the sugars burn completely, and the roast will only result in a thin-bodied cup of “charcoal water.” [2]

Ending Thoughts

My experience with roasting your own is that coffee is no longer bitter and you want regular creamer, not the flavored kind. You want to taste the coffee and it’s unique undertones. It’s completely different and a real treat. The cool thing is, you get to try different kinds. I especially like the place I order from because they seem to-most of the time-focus on small farmers and to help them gain business. It’s pretty neat to be a part of and to try new things is always nice as well. Hopefully this will cause that little curious part of you to leap out and make you want to try this! ENJOY!


Cited Sources

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Costa-Estate-Unroasted-Coffee-Nectar/dp/B00KTLLC8E/ref=sr_1_5_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1484241382&sr=8-5&keywords=heirloom%2Bcoffee%2Bllc&th=1

[2] https://www.sweetmarias.com/instructions

Keep Your Chickens Warm in Winter

snowchickens

Just to let you know, I feel a little silly writing this because yesterday even though it’s the middle of January, it was 60-70 degrees! BUT a cold front is moving in in a few hours and it’s supposed to go from 55 to 30 and there is a chance of “Ice-mageddon” (That’s what Jeremy keeps calling it) tonight since rain is coming. Depending on the temperature going under 32, it could be good or bad. I guess I shouldn’t feel too silly though because I follow Fresh Eggs Daily on my instagram account and Lisa’s been posting pictures of snow like crazy but she lives in Maine.

So, other than the crazy weather fluctuations of Missouri we should still cover how to care for your chickens during the cold times. First, I’m happy to report, my girls have been laying most of the winter but after doing a little research for Which Chicken Breed Do You Need? article, I learned that Barred Rocks are pretty great little winter birds. Which is AWESOME! I must be doing something right because my mother in law (AKA Superwoman) who has eggs constantly even when it’s cold asked me for 5 dozen eggs to sell and the next day my friend Cindy asked for 5 dozen as well!! I feel pretty good about my little Barred Rocks… THEY ROCK! (Pun intended) Which means I’m supplying my regular customers and Cindy’s. Yay!

Moving on… I’m just going to cover a few basics and hopefully it’s helpful!

Let’s begin with I don’t think you should heat your coop. There is just too much of a chance of a fire and your birds suffering and dying. I’d rather them be a little cold and survive than the other choice. No matter how careful you are, whose to say they won’t knock something over or something like that. I mean, it seems like nature does pretty good for itself. What about the cardinals and other birds flying around. They seem fine in the cold, don’t you think? They don’t have space heaters in their nests? So PLEASE don’t heat your coop.

Deep Litter Method or NOT?

Many people dote on this method. If you’re not aware, basically the floor of your chicken coop becomes a compost pile. As you probably know, compost breaks down organic matter (poop) and brings in bugs to do so, and so forth; it puts out heat. From what I’ve read, people only clean out their coops once a year and apply layers and different things and the chickens scratch around to stir things up and eat bugs in the process. It seems pretty good to me. If you do it right you shouldn’t have the ammonia smell but after reading THIS article…(This website is amazing for chicken info; explore it! Very handy!)

Here’s a snippet, ” The deep litter system might work for you. If you have the proper housing. If you are experienced enough to recognize when it is right and when it isn’t. If you have active, young chickens to do the work. If you know enough to regulate moisture and can judge when to top off the bedding. Don’t jump onto the deep litter bandwagon because it is the trendy thing to do, or because you’ve been told that it’s the best way to be sustainable/organic. It’s one option. It can provide an enriched environment for your hens. But it can also go very, very wrong. As with all animal keeping, pay attention to the individuals under your care. Think critically about the facilities you have. Constantly monitor your flock’s health and behavior. There’s a lot of advice out there and right now, it might seem as if everyone is telling you to switch to deep litter. Heck, I give a lot of advice here on this blog – of course I hope that you’ll agree with me. But, what I’d really like you to do is not to blindly follow what I say, but to listen to your animals. Spend time in the barn with them. Breathe their air. Watch their behavior. Then you’ll make the right decisions for them and yourself.” [1]

What I’ve Been Doing: First off, during the rest of the year when it isn’t cold, I go to our local sawmill and fill empty feed bags full of saw dust and that’s what I use for the coop. During the winter though, I get a square bale of hay or just hay from the pole barn and I put it on the floor in the coop, at least 6 inches worth to cover whole floor. At this point, I also add more hay to my nests as well. Any holes or drafty areas, I add more hay to block it out. At night, I block the little chicken door we cut for them so animals don’t come in and massacre them since in the winter it seems like they are in full force. You might have to clean it out a couple times depending on how much time your chickens spend in there.

The ironic part of your time spent fixing up your coop for make it warm… I did all of the work of trying to make them happy and yet, every night I’d go out there and they’d choose to roost in the trees rather than stay in the coop. I ended up trimming the limbs off my smaller trees because they wouldn’t use the coop! No matter how cold it is, my chickens prefer to be outside. It’s just in their nature. After the removal of limbs they seemed to finally accept roosting in the coop thank goodness!

I’m probably going to stick with what I’ve been doing. Seems kind of chancy to me and since what I do seems to work, why change it? Plus, saw dust is free. I don’t have to buy special bedding it’s all kind of a sustainable kind of process. Hay is free as well since we cut our own hay.

Feed

There seems to be a bit of controversy with what I’m going to suggest next BUT you can go to this forum I found on it and pick your own side! Sounds fair to me. Here is what I do and my chickens seem happy and it’s also what I did last year and all seemed well. During the normal year, I just buy regular old chicken pellet layer feed but when it starts to get cold I get Gamebird Feed and mix it with cracked corn. Gamebird feed has extra protein compared to the regular layer pellets and cracked corn doesn’t have heat value per say but it does help keep the birds warm by the digestion process. The body has to work harder to digest cracked corn vs regular feed which causes the body to put out more heat. That seems to be what my lady at my local MFA says too but you can go read about it in that previously mentioned forum. (Do keep in mind though that they don’t need that much cracked corn, I put their feed out and mix in a little corn. On colder days I’ll scoop out some corn and scatter across the ground for extra. The best way I’ve heard it explained is that candy is to a child like cracked corn is to a chick… They like their crack…hehe)

You can also be feeding your birds extra stuff because their diet changes pretty drastically compared to summer time when they are eating tons of bugs and grass. In winter, most of you grass is dried up and bugs are nonexistent (which was their protein). So you can feed them kitchen scraps and maybe a head of lettuce of something. If I cut up a pineapple i’ll give them the outer shell of it or have left overs from fruit or vegetables I give it to them. You could also buy stuff like meal worms but I don’t. It might seem weird but I also give them raw cow milk occasionally for calcium and fat(I’ve heard pasteurized store bought milk isn’t that great for them though). If I make cheese, I’ll give them the whey for protein, they seem to really love it.

Water (MOST IMPORTANT)

Obviously, everything needs water to survive. I go out several times and break ice for them to drink when it’s freezing temperatures. You could do the heated water thing but I don’t. I don’t have electric anywhere near my coop and I’m okay with breaking the ice.

End Result:

In the end, you need a good shelter that gets them out of the wind. Stop drafts from coming in. You need more than one bird because when they roost they huddle together for warmth. You need good ventilation in your coop for good air quality. Watch out for dampness because that could cause a respiratory infection. Decide on what litter your going to use whether deep litter method or not. Try to feed them greens and decide if you want to add in cracked corn to their diet. They need water. This is what I do, if you don’t choose to that’s fine by me but I still hope maybe you learned something or found parts of this helpful.

(Backstory of the coop: Guess I should also say that my chicken coop is a 8×10 shed that we bought for $100. We occasionally would look around craigslist to see if anything popped up for a coop since what we had was too small for the flock we currently had. That amount of money for a shed was a great buy. We had to drive a bit but we have a flat bed trailer so why not?? It took most of the day but we brought a wench. Halfway up the ramps, we broke said wench… What now, right? I looked around and saw a guy’s house that looked the Tinkering Type and we walked over and asked if he had a wench and he did so he let us borrow it. Partway through the wenching process, he came over to investigate and help. He brought a chain wench that he used to use with his father to pull motors and that helped EVEN MORE. We eventually got it and offered the old man some cash and he refused. Really nice guy, I wish we had butter at the time I would have given him some but we were far from home. Gas mileage wasn’t the greatest but hey, it was cheaper than buying a new shed and the guy had replaced the insides and had the doors rebuilt. When we got home we used the tractor to get it off the trailer into the chicken pin. So worth it!)


Cited Sources

[1] https://hencam.com/henblog/2013/12/why-i-dont-use-deep-litter/