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Roasting For Your Brewing Method

Many of us think a dark roast is required for espresso. Why might you roast differently for a pour-over versus for an espresso? I read this article months ago, but it was interesting to read again after writing about home roasting. If you do make espresso at home, AND you have a home roaster, you can experiment with some of the parameters mentioned here, from the Perfect Daily Grind, “Roasting For Filter Coffees vs. For Espresso.” We do sell green beans (unroasted coffee); contact us.

Filter/pour-over and espresso methods extract the coffee at different rates. Dark roasted coffee is more porous than lighter roasts. With espresso, you’re quickly pressing water through a puck of coffee. However, professional roasters might roast to the same end-temperature, but they can still develop different roast profiles. For a rough analogy in the kitchen, you can rapidly pan fry onions on high heat, or you can use low heat & cook the onions more slowly until browned. Another example: you can rapidly bring ingredients in water to a boil, or you can use moderate heat to slowly bring them to a boil.

One customer wrote to say he didn’t seem to taste as much “soil or volcano” with the espresso brewing style with our medium-dark roasted coffee. Yet I know at least one couple (he’s from Italy; she’s from Belgium) who regularly purchases our medium roast to use in their Italian espresso machine. We do have expectations for tastes and flavors, and we do get accustomed to foods/drinks we regularly consume. It has probably happened to you that you initially don’t like something, maybe because it’s different or unexpected, and you later like it.

I’m always interested in learning of your experiences with our coffee. I highly recommend having someone help you with blind tastings, even if it’s just clarifying for yourself if you prefer A or B. Taste is subjective. You’re allowed to like what you like!

Roasting Coffee at Home

I remember years ago, before taking over the farm, a coworker/friend shared that you can roast small batches of coffee at home that are pretty good. The home roasting machines were increasingly affordable, sophisticated, you didn’t have to roast much, and it didn’t take too long. I mentally filed that away. From the start of our coffee business, I thought that I’d like to reach those home roasting enthusiasts. They’re into coffee, but it’s personal-sized small-batch.

We’ve had a few customers buy our green beans (unroasted coffee, not the green bean vegetables you might eat at Thanksgiving). I’ve asked them to report back or send photos, because I’m curious. But one can’t nag or beg the nice customers.

One green bean customer is originally from Eritrea. I asked about their coffee roasting story and learned that here in the U.S. they first roasted the beans in a pan on the stove. Then they used a popcorn machine, which had better results in terms of uniformity. But soon it broke from the weekly use. Finally they bought a good roasting machine, which has been working well for more than 10 years, which is the point when they bought their Bea’s Knees green beans. They bought a five-pound bag of green beans, and they roast maybe 250 g or so for the week. When the mom visits from Eritrea she roasts the beans in a little pan to have the smell in the room, before she serves the actual coffee.

A friend recently bought a bag of green beans for her home roasting enthusiast friend. She kindly shared photos.

I did my usual quick search on the internet. I liked the info about home roasters, from novice to semi-pro, on the beanpoet’s site. You can get lost for a while on sweetmarias’ site. I think if you have dropped some dough on any expensive home brewing equipment (like a fancy espresso maker), you should consider roasting your own coffee, too. Have fun exploring and experimenting!

A Few 2019 Products

What has caught my attention in the coffee world in the recent months? I’m just sharing in case you’re interested, it being the season of giving (to others and perhaps yourself). We do not earn any money for referrals, sponsorships, etc., so this is just what I feel like mentioning.

I like the idea of this edible coffee cup, created by a New Zealand company, which Air New Zealand is piloting. Makes me think of ice cream cones. I do often buy scooped ice cream in cones just to keep the waste, but not the waist, down.

On another note, as stated in this article, it’s a sign that pourovers have gone mainstream when Mr. Coffee now offers pourover equipment. It’s a different price point than their usual affordable machines. There was a time when it seemed you’d see a Mr. Coffee drip coffee maker in most homes. (Is Mr. Coffee considered “first wave” or “second wave” coffee?) It seems like you see everything nowadays in “third wave” coffee — French press, manual pourover, moka stovetop pots, Krups, Keurig, Nespresso, etc. — depending just how exacting the home brewer human is.

Also entering a new era for its brand, Chemex has a single cup brewer, and a digital electric gooseneck Chemex Chettle. My opinion? Too expensive when the Hario dripper will do. But maybe you love Chemexes. My friend recently cleaned out and sold her parents’ home. She discovered 35 Chemexes! Some were different sizes, but still. She says she has a physical reaction when she sees them now. We tried to come up with reasons a couple would need so many of the same type of coffee brewer, but we couldn’t.

I’m still trying to find the right formula (weight and grind size) for our 8-cup Chemex. Getting closer, but still not satisfied. It didn’t help when I hadn’t used it in a few weeks and had not yet had any morning caffeine, so maybe my brain was sluggish. I used the coffee amount for eight cups, but only filled it to its belly button, which is the half-way point, but I thought was full. Full is below the wooden collar. I must have been thinking like wine glasses, where you don’t fill up the bowl. I don’t usually make larger quantities of coffee, so I’m not regularly practicing with it. It’s amusing how such a simple device and concept still has to be dialed in. I know what our coffee can taste like, and I can’t get a single pourover to scale up with my Chemex yet. I have to host more coffee get-togethers and practice more, I guess.

Farming Then and Now

I hope you folks have had a nice Thanksgiving. Bea, AKA Mom, was surprised that the harvest is over before Thanksgiving. I reminded her that this and last year have been unusual. Back in her time, the school year was adjusted so that kids could help with the harvest. The school year ended in about the third week of August (versus late May now). And it started up about two weeks before Thanksgiving (versus early-August now). And they used to pick coffee through the Christmas holiday, when they had two weeks or so off of school. They only got New Year’s Day off of coffee picking. My mom says the Japanese believe that if you’re laboring on January 1, you’ll be working hard your entire life. Those kids knew hard, manual labor.

This segues to a recent human interest article about a local family in West Hawaii Today, “Organic ‘glamor camping’: Bonderas living sustainably on Kanalani Ohana Farm in South Kona.” I’ve been seeing them around and/or their names for years, but I learned more from this article. For example, Colehour Bondera, a regular at the Keauhou Farmers Market, was one of 11 kids and grew up working on a farm in Oregon. Click through the photos in the newspaper article. I’d like to get that bike-driven mill (pulper) and put my husband and cyclist friends to work. (I don’t think we have enough coffee to keep Keish Doi sufficiently busy to replace his daily Kailua-Hawi round trip ride. Ha ha.)

The Bonderas have been in Hawaii now for about 20 years. The Bonderas’ farm, Kanalani Ohana, is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed earlier this year in the U.S. District Court in Seattle about fake Kona coffee. I mentioned it in my 3/10/19 post. I appreciate how involved they are with the community.

“I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live.”

— George Bernard Shaw

The 2019 Harvest Is Pau (Finished)

Kona’s dry season starts in November, and it has been dry. All the rain we received and the bluer, vog-less sky, however, is probably why our yield was about doubled this year. Last year (the big eruption year) was a low-yield for most farmers, and it was odd because picking was over before Thanksgiving, when it usually extends into December, possibly January.

This was an unusual year, too. There was a lot of coffee, with some large harvests, but we will be done with all picking before Thanksgiving for a second year. We will be strip picking the rest of the few beans on the trees as part of our farm hygiene; these beans, mostly off-grade, don’t go into our estate coffee we sell.

Since we have more coffee and we’re heading towards the potential yield of this farm, we can be more selective. This year we’re excluding the Prime grade (lowest quality) from our estate coffee. (See this blog post for more info on grading).

Prime grade beans are shown in comparison to the top three grades.

Prime grade green beans are in the hand at top. Our estate coffee is in the hands below. It’s not a striking difference. Prime is still considered Kona coffee. It might be slightly smaller, has a few more defects, and the color isn’t quite as uniform. It does not have any undesirable flavor or aroma when brewed.

If the rains allow, we’re going to stump the last block on our farm in December rather than wait for January. I’m looking forward to this last one. The areas are the most jungly and unwieldy. Rain makes coffee grow, but a lot of other things grow, too! We haven’t been spending a lot of time cleaning up here since the big ax job will happen with the stumping.

This farm is truly a work in progress. It wasn’t that long ago that we had to bushwhack to see the outer edges of our property.

Although it has been dry, last weekend and Monday or Tuesday there was a flash flood advisory, for the entire state and specific areas, like Kona, at times. I didn’t pay close attention. Already Saturday night we watched at least an hour of lightning flashes over the ocean. It reminds me of looking for shooting stars. You just stare out, and occasionally you see something. It’s weird to see the pitch black expanse suddenly light up, revealing the horizon line and the heavy clouds and sky pattern, but just for a split second. I like that you experience it, and you don’t worry about trying to capture it in a photo.

Sunday it was the same thing — heavy humidity, hot, electric flashes, but still no rain or storm. Early Monday morning, it finally arrived. The storm came and went. A few hours later, the heaviness to the air was lifted, there were blue sky, light clouds, and occasionally some puddles to be seen.