Joy (cithra) wrote,

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burning down the house

So yesterday I roasted my very first batch of coffee. It went pretty well, over all - at least in the "all's well that ends well" sense of things.

Last Friday, as I mentioned earlier, Ulysses showed me how to roast coffee in a hot air popcorn popper. It seemed fun, and fairly easy to accomplish, and he packed me off home with one of his many (ten at last count!) thrift-store poppers and a loads-worth of green Kenya, one of the varieties he'd done as a demo. I was fairly certain I could manage to reproduce the procedure - I have a hood fan over the stove for keeping things from getting too smokey, a floor fan that can be pressed into service for cooling, and while I lack a metal colander I do have a metal flour sifter that I was assured would serve.

So: popper, green coffee, bowl for chaff, fan & sifter for cooling, wooden chopstick for stirring. All well and good.

Well, no. First of all notice fan is filthy. Take fan apart to clean, wondering about the air quality in the apartment. Put fan back together.

Assemble various items on kitchen counter. Discover items do not wish to occupy available space neatly. Discover that, even upon rearranging counter-top, still more juggling must be done so that everything which needs to be plugged in can be plugged in. Manage to get everything set up successfully.

Put coffee in popper, plug in. Stir briefly with chopstick, but the beans seem to be stirring themselves just fine. Put lid on popper. Watch beans turn a lovely shade of yellow, then hit first pop. (Astute readers will have noticed something missing here...)

Jump about twelve feet when the smoke alarm goes off. Oops. Belatedly remember to turn on hood fan. Turn on regular fan also, turn on bathroom fan for good measure, and in between intermittantly fan smoke detector with dishcloth to make it stop screeching.

Hear coffee go into second pop. Spend the next several minutes dashing between smoke detector and kitchen, desperately trying to keep the smoke detector from going off long enough for someone to think there is an actual problem. So: unplug popper, go fan smoke detector. Pour coffee into sifter, put popper directly under hood fan (see electrical outlet difficulties above), go fan smoke detector. Stir coffee in sifter with wooden chopstick under hood fan, go fan smoke detector.

At this point everything that was actively emitting smoke had ceased, so I was able to stop dancing with the dishtowel. I poured the coffee into a shallow pan, put it in front of the floor fan and stirred it some more. Eventually it cooled down and I put it into a plastic baggie.

Then I got out the broom and swept up the chaff, only about 30% of which had gotten blown around the kitchen by the various fans. I think one of the reasons I find myself avoiding cooking as much as I do is it always seems to turn into a long stint of cleaning. In this case between cleaning the fan before-hand and the kitchen afterwards I spent about twice as long cleaning up as I did actually roasting.

However, it was still fun. I imagine if I actually remember to turn on the hood fan before I start the actual roasting things will go more smoothly. I'm too used to making popcorn, that's the behavior model I fall back on, and that doesn't require the hood fan to be engaged...

I'll know for certain in a day or three how well it really went, since that's the optimal time to taste the roasted coffee. It looks and smells lovely, though.

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