So my latest hobby is roasting my own coffee. Not quite up there with wreck diving, but those days are gone forever.
Don't know what inspired me to pick this one up. We have been buying coffee at Porto Rico Importing Company, a specialty coffee and tea place in the Village. They sell all kinds of roasted coffee in huge burlap sacks. The atmosphere is very McSorleyeque, if you substitute tweaked out caffeine junkies for drunken frat boys. I have been buying coffee there for quite a few years but ever since I started working in Westchester, it's been difficult to make the trip.
Anyway, about a month ago I started doing some research on the web about roasting your own beans. I ran across a great website run by a green bean supplier, Sweet Maria's. They have a huge selection of beans and all the associated paraphernalia, but even more importantly, some well written and easy to follow instructions for newbies like myself.
Now you CAN go whole hog and spring for the $920 Programmable Hot Top (which also needs a dedicated ventilation system installed), or maybe the $200 Hearthware i-Roast 2. Or you can just use a popcorn popper.
The Coffee Camorra has a decided preference for air poppers (though you can go with an old school stovetop popper too). Not just any air popper, it should be one with the air jets in the correct place so they blow the beans in a circle, not just up through the top of the machine. (The first one I bought blew all the beans straight out the funnel and into the sink). Thanks to EBay I was able to order a "vintage" West Bend Poppery II.
This thing will blow out more hot air than the average City Council member, quite an accomplishment. The first couple of batches were a little underdone, but then I got the hang of it, 3.5 ounces of beans for seven minutes. A City/Full City roast, which gives me a nice cuppa joe.
One of the other things I enjoy about this is that Sweet Marias posts information and photographs of the farmers whose coffee they carry. The folks who run this place clearly care about the farmers; I’m sure that they’re getting a much better deal than Juan Valdez got.