Got a nagging little question?

In my email inbox very early Saturday morning a customer asked, “Why is the coffee wet?” This was from one of our mainland customers several timezones away. We had a little exchange not too long ago about shipping delays. Once in a while he buys beans from different farms “to see what they are all about.” (Kona coffee farmers thank you!) It’s nice to hear the customer’s perspective and infer how one’s business seems to compare with other similar businesses. He had recently experienced a long delay in a shipment from another Kona coffee farm.

Most of the months since the pandemic shutdown, we fortunately haven’t experienced any significant slowdowns in shipping.  It surprised me, in fact.  But lately, just in the past couple of weeks, things have noticeably suffered with USPS.  Two packages that went out on the same day reached the mainland West Coast in two days.  One reached the recipient the day after that; the other stayed stuck in a San Jose, CA, USPS facility for days and didn’t get moved along for a week and a half!  The recipient was IN San Jose and could have driven over, could have WALKED over, to get it.

In any case, we do like to hear from customers. Carl asked why our coffee was wet. It stuck to the sides after grinding. He found the same thing with others’ coffee. He wanted to know if that was natural.

I answered, “The coffee appears wet because of its natural oils. The more you roast it, the more oils come out, making it look wet.  If you have a darker roast of ours or other coffee, you might want to note if it seems to be ‘wetter’ in your grinder.”

Before being in the coffee business, when I’d just drink coffee and not think much more about it, I used to think that oily, dark beans meant that oil was used to roast the coffee. But, no, roasting longer brings out more of the beans’ oils.

Carl then sent a photo of our coffee and another farm’s Kona coffee. Both are medium roast. Ours is on the right; the other’s on the left. Ours is a little darker and “wetter.”

Beans are roasted within a certain range.   Sweet Marias specializes in helping home roasters and has a lot of tutorials and interesting info.

This one might be particularly useful for the topic of roasting and visual signs. It’s one of several articles that can be found in their library about roasting basics.

FYI, we roast to 425 degrees for medium and 433 for medium-dark.

Let us know your other coffee questions …

Roasting at Home

I mean roasting your coffee, not yourselves. It is summer, after all. The Norwegian in-laws that live north of the Arctic Circle have been enjoying temperatures above 90F. That’s hotter than Hawaii. This is related to the news about Siberia recently hitting heat records and the permafrost melting. Scary.

This will be another short post, and takes the Coffee at Home post from two weeks ago a little further. Why not roast your own coffee? This is a nice introduction to roasting coffee at home. And here’s another similar article from the same source. We do sell green (unroasted) beans in small amounts (pound or more) for individuals. Use our contact form to inquire.

Bea’s Knees Farm uses a fluid bed roaster. This article delves a bit into fluid bed roasters, as opposed to drum roasters: Fluid-bed roasting, the path less taken.

Which Roast Has More Caffeine?

Do you think the lighter the roast, the more the caffeine? A few years ago I didn’t know, and since then my take-away learning was that a lighter roast has more caffeine. Recently, a friend shared this article with me from Scribblers Coffee, “Which Has More Caffeine: Light or Dark Roast?” He said the article’s answer was different than what a Kona farm told him. (My quick answer to myself was also “light roast.”) After I read the article, which answered the question comprehensively, the answer (“it depends”) made sense to me. I knew many of the various facts that come into play, but still in my mind I had distilled it all to the simple answer.

I happen to be reading Daniel Kahneman’s book Thinking, Fast and Slow. Answering “Which roast has more caffeine?” gave myself a perfect example of how we like the quick, easy answer. From the description on the back of the book, “Kahneman reveals where we can and cannot trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking.”

Kahneman assigns the label System 1 for our automatic, quick thinking that requires little or no effort and no sense of voluntary control. System 2 is associated with our deliberate, calculated, concentrated thinking. The book formula, simplified, is that the author gives you a fun, relatable example choice/quiz, which illustrates when the different “systems” come into play, sometimes to our disadvantage. After you’re humbled when you fall into the thinking trap the author’s trying to demonstrate, you’re curious and ready to receive the following discussion/explanation. The book is over 400 pages, and it isn’t light reading, though it is if you compare it to the papers these types of academics usually write. You’ll probably need coffee to stay alert to follow the book. I like to read these types of books when I have insomnia, because I want to read them, but they aren’t beach reading. If I read during a wake spell, either I eventually get sleepy or I make progress in the book. It takes a little of the bite out of insomnia.

There you go. Maybe you’ve learned a little about caffeine in coffee if you read the linked article, you have a book recommendation, and you’ve learned one example for dealing and coping with insomnia. One thing I’ve learned with this blog is that I can start with something related to coffee, and from there I can go all over the place!

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!