Home Coffee Roasting Class

Posted on by Jennie

For my birthday, my coworkers got me a gift certificate to go to a coffee roasting class at the Institute of Domestic Technology.

This class taught the basics of how to taste coffee, including a cupping, and then dived into finding the right roast for you – and roasting our own coffee with Whirley Pops!  It was taught by Ian Riley of Plow & Gun, accompanied by Joseph Shuldiner, the director of the institute.

Rebecca and I attend this past Saturday, and started out by enjoying two baby goats, Poppyseed and Apple. Look how excited Becca is – she and I both obviously love baby goats.

This is Poppyseed. He tried to eat my purse, and my camera. No matter.

Back to coffee. The thing I learned from Ian really was that if you buy ground coffee, “you’re used to the taste of stale coffee.” This stuck with me because the coffee we tasted was completely different from the taste of the coffee I tend to brew at home — even though I do grind my coffee beans myself.

Ian told us it is best to drink coffee within the week it was roasted, which I am sure most of us don’t given that we buy from the store pre-packaged roast coffee. A lot of people were talking about drinking coffee with cream/milk and sugar, and Joseph mentioned that since he started home brewing he can drink his black – a testament to the difference it makes when you drink coffee right.

This is how you begin a cupping: first, you smell the coffee grinds in the cup, before water even comes into play. I must say at this point I had a fair amount of coffee in my eyes, due to the fact that I breathe out whilst breathing in the cup — not a good idea.

Then, Ian and Joseph filled the cups with water all the way to the top, and the next step was to smell the coffee as it brewed.

It apparently is customary to have the cups on the edge of the table for pouring purposes, which was pretty scary because I was sure I was going to knock one over and spill everywhere. I didn’t, thank goodness, but it was a real possibility.

Here is Becca, really getting her nose in there to smell what’s up. What was up was delicious, wonderful coffee.

Your next step is called the Break. You use the back of a spoon to break the grounds at the top, also while smelling the coffee, also creating a foam over the top. All this smelling was really making me want to TASTE this coffee, already!

So next, you use two spoons to take the grounds off the top of the cup (so you can FINALLY taste it!!) It was hard to get the hang of this, but I am confident that I can get it down eventually.

Here is a cup of coffee that knows what’s what. Next, it’s time to taste! We tasted six coffees; three from very different regions of the world, and three that were similar beans but roasted differently. My favorites were Ethiopian beans, and the dark roast, which is comical as Ethiopian beans can’t be brewed dark. Go figure, of course I’d pick a hard combination. Becca preferred the medium Vienna roast, which is a blend of Brazilian, Guatemalan, and Colombian beans.

After tasting and discussing, it was time to roast our own coffee. Ian mentioned at first he had some trepidation using a Whirley Pop to roast coffee, but once he had, he told Joseph, “we must teach this class!” because it is a relatively easy and cheap method to roast at home!

Here are the green coffee beans. They look like pistachios to me!

Here I am, roasting away! This took about 13 minutes when all was said and done for me to get to a dark roast. You start with green beans (this is where we were given a recommendation to get them from), and use the Whirley Pop (we seemed to be at a medium heat) that you have already heated. For the coffee I roasted, I let it pop twice (it sounds like popcorn!)

Ian checking to see…are we ready?

Smile of approval! Thank goodness, because I was the last one done in my group and it seemed that I would be spinning that Whirley Pop for the rest of my life.

Here are my roasted coffee beans!

Becca was next – she was the FIRST one done in her group. Go figure!

So once your beans are “done” on the heat, you dump ’em on a jelly roll pan.

These are Becca’s beans, cooling.

These are the beans we made, ready to bring home! (Which we did, and which I have drank. Delicious.)

At the end of class, Ian brewed us some coffee using a french press, which he recommended to get even, consistent brewed coffee. He also recommended a burr coffee grinder for even grinding and a more consistent grain size (do you notice a pattern of consistency?)

We also got to bring home some green beans to roast ourselves. I learned so much from this class (from how to cup, how to roast, and how to brew coffee) that I recommend it for anyone who likes coffee as part of their everyday ritual. As I sit here and sip the coffee I roasted myself, I know it’s worth it. I’ll even let you borrow my new Whirley Pop!

(For more goat inspired photos, head here)


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