coffee

Diaries of an Aspiring Coffee Roaster: The First Batch

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So in case you didn’t know…Paige and I sadly had to part ways with our beloved “Black Pearl” (the van we traveled the United States with for nearly the last 2 years…we spent most of our time in Melbourne, FL which is the sickest place with the coolest people if you’ve never been). While we traveled, we sold and brewed our signature blend, “The Granite Stoke” which was roasted by our friends at Good Vibes Coffee Roasters in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. We love Good Vibes (especially Christian, the main roaster and just a really rad guy) and will continue to carry our signature blend, but we figured since we no longer have the pearl it could be time to take our business in a new direction.

The following further details that direction…

From here on out, Salty Bean Coffee Co. will not only be selling organic coffee, but also roasting it up fresh ourselves. The beauty in this is that we will be able to pay attention to every detail of the fascinating and intricate world that is coffee. Truly a farm to cup approach (or as close to that as we can come). Our dream is to work directly with farmers all over the globe to ensure that the land our coffee is grown on never is tainted with chemicals and pesticides and that the men and women who dedicate their lives to growing coffee are paid fair and equal wages. That’s still our goal, but unfortunately it’s just not that simple. So here’s where we decided to start…

We purchased a Behmor 1600 Plus to start roasting our coffee. After a bit of research, it seemed liked the most affordable option that could produce the best and most consistent roasts. YouTube taught us that this roaster works best when roasting coffee to a light/medium roast profile, so that’s what most of our coffee will be for now. Next, we had to figure out where to source our green coffee beans. Like I said earlier, we sadly can’t directly connect with farmers at the moment mainly because we’re just way too small of a business. This left us scouring the web for green coffee importers and retailers that cater to home roasters. For our first order (so far we’ve only placed one order) we went with Coffee Bean Corral. When it comes to choosing coffee, we prioritize environmental impact and working conditions over everything. Don’t get us wrong, we definitely want our coffee to taste good too, but we will never sacrifice our moral obligation to better this planet and people’s lives. This methodology led us to buying five pounds of organic and fair trade certified coffee grown on various farms who all belong to a co-op known by the name, “El Palto,” in the Amazonian Andes of Peru. Our beans came from a lot owned by Mercedes Carranza Montenegro, and we’re so stoked to be able to at least trace our coffee back to one co-op that only grows organic coffee and is fair trade certified. We know fair trade and organic doesn’t necessarily mean that the workers are paid top dollar and the land is treated with the utmost respect, but we figured its a good starting point.

Next, we had to figure out how to roast the coffee in our new baby roaster. It turns out that the Behmor is best suited to roast a half pound of coffee at a time and the best way to roast it is to throw the most heat at it you can and have the drum speed cranked all the way up to get the air flowing (it looks a little like a rotisserie turning inside of a toaster oven). From what I understand (keep in mind all our coffee knowledge comes from YouTube and podcasts) you let the coffee roast until you hear first crack, and the time between first crack and when you stop the roast will determine the roast profile. Once you’ve decided the appropriate time to stop the roast, you turn the roaster off, throw on some silicon gloves and get that piping hot drum out of the machine (pulling the roasted coffee out of this machine is a sight to behold and looks and probably is super sketchy). Once the drum is out you have 4 minutes to cool it to touch, so we pour the coffee from the drum into a metal colander and quickly continue to pour the coffee back and forth between two colanders until it’s not super hot when you touch it. When it’s cool to touch, it means the coffee has stopped cooking (kind of like cookies in the oven from what I understand). After the coffee is cooled, you pour the roasted beans into a bag with a CO2 valve (this keeps it fresh…you want oxygen to stay out, but still want to allow CO2 and other gases that build up to escape), slap a fresh label on it, jot down some notes about the roast and just like you’ve successfully roasted and packaged coffee…in theory.

“In theory” are the key words. So far we’ve roasted 7 half pound batches and they’ve all been a little different. Below you will see a picture of the notes I’ve taken about each roast we’ve tried, and my goal is to upload a new blog for every roast or few roasts detailing the process and results. I obviously didn’t get around to it until now, so I’m hoping my scattered notes do a decent enough job at telling the story of these first few roasts. If you made it this far, thanks for reading and whatever your passion is don’t be afraid to just go for it…even if you have no idea what you’re really doing like us!

-Noah, Co-Owner

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