Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Clinton Campaigns For Baristi

As a quality third-wave coffeeshop, BFCAT (and many others) have good reason to be proud about our coffee over gas station coffee. Some reasons are the quality training, the care and concern for the farmers, better atmosphere, community commitment, and the coffee doesn't come out of an automatic machine that spews out powdered milk and instant coffee. 
In this video, potential 44th President of The United States of America, Hillary Clinton, demonstrates the need for more quality third-wave shops with well trained baristi ready to serve potential commander-in-chiefs anywhere in this expansive nation. Will someone please get her a real cappuccino? 

Monday, April 28, 2008

Roasting notes 4/28

Roasted a little bit tonight, some observations:

Guatemalan Coban, at least the bag I have, always roasts unevenly. Probably the borer holes that litter the beans. Maybe the fact that some of my burners are not burning clean.

10 degree difference in final bean temp between Guat and Tanzanian Peaberry yielded no difference in final bean weight. Curious...

We've begun talks with two coffee farms to do direct importing (as "direct trade" as we can get so far): Finca Vista Hermosa and Daterra. Wondering if Klaus Thompsen will sue if we use those two coffees in an espresso blend...

It is interesting how quickly one comes to conclusions regarding certain origins. Based on just one bag, from who knows where, is a dangerous thing to do, but it is difficult to not think of Coban as always-and-everywhere inconsistent and borer-ridden. It is difficult to not think of Colombian as always having a bitter aftertaste, regardless of roast level. Here is the problem of prejudice and having to roast in larger batches (requiring a larger initial investment in origin). I tried roasting in our machine at its lowest capactity (1.1 lbs), but was met with an uneven, lying roast (it said 424f, but looked--at least some of it--465f). Two pounds didn't improve much. If I always have to roast 3+ lbs, then the options I have are limited, especially when it comes to my proposed triple blend ideas. I don't want to roast 9lbs for a product that I have no idea if it will even be good. Such is life, I guess. I'll just keep roasting away.

I need to remember to clean out the chaff bin before I turn on the gas.

Monday, April 21, 2008


The roaster is up and working here at the C&T. A couple of notes...


2) We now have bags for sale and our new packaging should be ready soon. Both retail and wholesale accounts available.

3) I've been post-roast sorting and have determined it one of the most difficult things to do. I'm not sure how to make pre-roast and post-roast sorting commercially viable, at least from where I'm standing right now. However, I was noticing a lot of "charcoal" beans--yes, beans literally reduced to charcoal--and berries in the Tanzanian Peaberry. Even in specialty grade coffee, sorting is necessary. Not to mention, even with an immaculately cleaned roaster, uneven roasts are still possible and probable. Sorting is, really, the next step of quality and consistency.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Silence and Roasting Smoke

We've been quiet here lately...and haven't been producing much coffee.

I moved our roaster to the shop last week (maybe the week before, but I'm starting to get confused myself on how long this has taken) and thoroughly cleaned it. Top to bottom, left to right, six ways of Sunday. The roaster is probably about five years old and I think I may be the first to give it a thorough cleaning. Such was the start of my troubles...

After cleaning, the drum worked fine. But I broke the heat probe and so cannot tell the temperature inside the roaster, no pre-heat, guessing on what temp I'm roasting to, etc. One is in the mail from the nice folks at Ambex, but I still have a day or two before it arrives.

The cooling tray fan bound up--nothing happening. Once I finally got it unbound (involving taking it completely apart and enough WD-40 inhalation to kill a small horse) it is so loud that I need to wear earplugs. Sigh. It was quieter when it was dirty.

The sweeper has been the thorn in my flesh. The motor runs from the get-go, without the sweeper actually turning. When I get around to turning it on, it moves slowly. Then when I turn it off, it keeps on going. Sigh. It turns out to be an easy fix, I messed something up in the wiring. It will work fine tomorrow.

Ducting is leaking worse than a government employee to the media. New, permanent ducting is being installed next week (hopefully), but now I just am laying the sealant on pretty thick.

So the roasting, for all intents and purposes, has been shut down for about two weeks. I've been out of decaf for who-knows-how-long and I'm beginning to get worn down by the whole process. Thanks to Phil at La Prima, though, who supplied us with an emergency 13lbs that we blew threw in almost one day. I'm hoping that by the end of my 16 hour day tomorrow I'll be going strong, but I've been hoping that for awhile.

Anyway, roasting smoke. I wrote on this blog, some time ago, about distilling coffee smoke. Aside from some interesting culinary possibilities, I'm now wondering if it would be a good way to control the smoke I'll inevitably produce in this residential neighborhood. I certainly want to be a good neighbor. The difficulty, as I see it, is to make sure that no chaff goes out of the stack and into the condensing unit--something not possible with the setup I have. Otherwise, all that will happen is a solid mass of chaff that will back up the roaster Once that problem is taken care of, though, this could be a major innovation in the "greening" of the coffee industry. Maybe...I'll keep you posted.