Since a friend of mine converted me not so long ago to the much tastier
home-roasting popcorn popper method of caffeine consumption, I've been
experimenting (in an unfortunate dearth of contact with him and others)
with a popcorn popper and a french press (3 cup bodum model with
stainles steel mesh "filter".) I had a few questions that perhaps
someone on the list could comment on:
. As I understand it, French Presses leave lots of nasty cafestol in the
resulting nectar.. I mean coffee, and cafestol is a powerful
cholesterol-elevating compound. Is there a way to modify my press to
eliminate the cafestol but still leave all that lovely flavour behind?
. Why is it that I must wait for the crust to form on the top of my
press for a few minutes before stirring it down? Is there something
about the bouyant stuff that help eliminate bitters? That is, for full
flavour extraction, wouldn't it be better to make sure the water has
access to all the coffee grounds for the full brewing time?
. I find it difficult to get an even roast using my popcorn popper, but
I've thus far been attributing it to the variation in bean size and
density in the greens I've been buying locally. Does anyone have any
tricks they want to share regarding popcorn popper roasting? Basically,
1. Fill the popper to 3/4 full. No less, or first crack will be glacial.
No more, or the roast is half dark and half light, and lots of beans
will spill everywhere.
2. Plug it in, turn it on. Every 20 seconds, give it a single shake to
lift the beans and distribute them, without dissipating the precious
heat and prolonging first crack well beyond what it should be.
3. When the beans have expanded enough that the air from the popper
agitates them itself, let it be until first crack is mostly done (or
more, depending on how dark I want the average roast to be) and then
quickly unplug and spread them over a metal pizza cooling tin (with
small holes, so it cools the beans very rapidly.)
I've found that the timing involved is so variable between the different
beans I buy that there is no concrete stopwatch time that is
appropriate. My ethiopian harar for example, seems much denser and
harder to roast evenly than some lovely Panama stuff my local coffee
shop ordered in, which gets to first crack so quickly I have to be
careful not to let them suddenly burn past second without me noticing!
I'd also like to share some observations of the hand-grinder I picked
Peugeot hand-grinder "nostalgie" model
This beastie is a fantastic hand-grinder. It's essentially identical to
the exact same model of hand-grinder of more than 100 years ago (my
parents have an antique one that's still in use and been in the family
for like.. three generations at least) and the quality of the coffee
that comes out of the grinder is absolutely fantastic
While I was waiting for my hand-grinder to arrive via special order, I
was unfortunately forced to use one of those common blade grinders that
makes a great deal of noise and fines, and I have to say, the
difference is tremendous. The control over the coarseness of the
grounds is great, and even though the little wooden box is a bit
clumsy, the flavour is like night and day.
Drawbacks: it's a box, so it's unwieldy and carrying it around
everywhere I go is a pain. The little drawer for the grounds is stiff
enough that I've managed to drop a box or two of grounds in the sink.
Pros: Taste. Lifetime guarantee. Taste. Grounds consistency is good.
Control over coarseness.
(P.S. Sorry about the size of this tome. I'm just so glad to be amongst
fellow afficionados.. :)