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We have started a new tradition, thanks to a guest, from Oxford in England, who makes Espresso for himself every morning with a popcorn popper and good, green espresso coffee beans.
It was a fascinating conversation to realize something which I had dismissed as complicated, time-consuming, etc. is being done on a regular, daily basis by a young bed & breakfast guest who has lots of other things to do – a busy life, research, moving his career forward, etc. We tried to get him to write for Bettina’s Blog, but in spite of much begging and pleading, he resisted. Maybe in the future he will relent and write a blog about his morning coffee ritual.
We will have to report this third hand. As you try it, please give us feed back to help us and you refine the process.
The guest referred us to a web site – www.sweetmarias.com. We went all over the site and learned much, which we are trying to put into practice.
First, we had to find the right popcorn popper – mainly because the coffee roasters we found are way up in the hundreds of dollars and only last, according to what we’ve read, about two years. So the popcorn popper is our beginning. Who would have thought you could have really fresh coffee made with beans roasted in a popcorn popper. But who knows, if we become really good at this we can spin off a Bettina coffee roasting company. You can have your coffee beans shipped overnight mail so you can have really fresh coffee in the morning – Bettina style. I suspect some Bettina host families might put up a fuss if we started to require all homes have fresh coffee in the mornings, but stranger things have happened.
I learned, right before the guest left, that the popcorn popper we had would not work. His advice was to get one with holes in the sides of the well where one would normally put the un-popped corn. The hot-air popcorn popper we have has a screen over the hole in the bottom of the well, but no holes in the sides of the well. The holes in the side are needed to keep the coffee beans rotating. They won’t roast and pop out of the popper the way corn does – they will crack and the outer shells coming off the beans as they crack, will fly out of the popcorn popper the way the corn does. For lack of a more professional word – I call that flying stuff ‘shaft’.
We found the right kind at a second hand store for about $3.50. So off we went with our green coffee beans. We had no idea about quality in coffee beans, but since this was a trial, it didn’t matter.
The beans went into the hot air popcorn popper, plugged it in, put a glass bowl where one normally puts one to catch the popped corn which comes out of the popper and out came ‘shaft’ – after the first crack.
Oh, I forgot the cracks! One must wait, while the beans roast, with an incredible smell filling the house until you hear the beans ‘crack’. After this first ‘crack’ the ‘shaft’ – or what I think is the outside covering of the coffee bean – will come out of the popper since it is light and the hot air just blows it into the glass bowl. The directions from our guest says wait until almost the second crack and your beans are done. I had no idea when the second crack would come to be able to anticipate and take the beans out of the popper at that point so I waited a minute or two after the first crack and took out the beans.
The next direction was to make sure you cool the beans by using two pans and pouring the beans from one to the other until the beans cool down or they will continue to roast as long as there is heat and you have lost control of the roasting process.
I stood in the kitchen, pouring the beans from one sifter to the other thinking I had really lost it in my search for perfect breakfast foods and had I gone too far this time? There are perfectly good organic coffees – ground and whole beans, which I could grind – on the market. What was I doing messing up the kitchen and destroying this popcorn popper trying to do what? I didn’t even know if I had good beans or not.
After cooling, I continued to follow the guests directions and let the coffee beans sit overnight. I’m not sure why, but I follow directions pretty good. I don’t deviate until I have tried the prescribed directions and they don’t work and then – all bets are off.
This morning, I am sitting in my office having the best cup of coffee I have ever had in life. Its like the difference in quality between buying a bag of popcorn which was popped probably a month ago, packaged and stored in a too hot warehouse and popping the corn in your kitchen in a kettle popper, eating it fresh and hot out of the popper.
The coffee is incredible. Remarkable!
Now – I am going to try again. This time after reading a bit about coffee beans, learning something about differences in quality of the beans and refining my roasting and grinding technique. I might even buy a coffee grinder, instead of using the grinder we use for nuts to grind the coffee beans.
Growing up, my great-grandmother made her coffee from green beans every morning. She had a wood burning stove in the kitchen and once that stove was fired up, she roasted coffee beans and had a coffee grinder screwed to the wall – a glass jar contraption – and into that grinder she put her coffee beans and had really fresh coffee daily. It was normal! That was just a part of her morning ritual!!! No one considered that strange or special or anything, that was just how you made coffee.
How far we have come from such basics. – Today we have ‘decaf’ coffee which, if you spill on the flame it lets out an incredible stench and the smell of burning ‘decaf’ coffee grounds is a horrible, horrible odor. It always amazes me when guests ask for ‘decaf’. I wonder if they know the process and if they have ever spilled any of their ‘decaf’ coffee grounds on the stove in the flame or electric element.
All the ways we have coffee. Is it because we’ve lost touch with simply roasting your beans, grinding them and making your coffee in a small french press? That is an exquisite way to start your day.
This is going to be quite special, discovering different coffee beans, filling the house with the smell of freshly roasting coffee beans. The one consistency, which ties back to everything else – ALL THE BEANS WE EXPLORE WILL HAVE TO BE ORGANICALLY GROWN! I’m sure you’ve guessed that.
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