Thursday, May 15, 2008

Anyone for coffee?

My husband has been busy feeding and mulching our 40 coffee plants (arabica variety) as they prepare their beans for us to harvest.

Processing your own coffee at home is achievable, it takes a lot of time, is very labour intensive, but we do a little every evening and there is nothing like drinking a cup of your own home grown organic coffee.

When the fruits are red we get out there and start picking them off. We only harvest enough to process that night. You have to move quickly with coffee.

We sit surrounded by buckets as we pop each red berry, put it one bucket (for the worm farm), and then we put the slimey beans (usually two per berry) into a bucket of water.

Any floaters are taken out and discarded. And the rest left to ferment for about 24 hours. Keep and eye on them, or more specifically keep your hands on them, as you need to feel the beans to see when the ferment process has finished.

The beans will go from being slimey to grainy - they'll feel like they are covered in sand.

Rinse them then and lay them out in the sun to dry - we use old flyscreen doors and windows from the dump. After a few days - depending on what the weather is doing - the husk will start to split. Then you have to sit (again) and remove all those husks.

Revealed will be a small grey/green bean with a flimsy papery covering. How put those beans out in the sun again (keep them dry though) until they go very hard. Bite one between your teeth to see how hard they are.

Your beans are now ready for roasting. You can store them at this point, or you can roast them and then store them.

We roast ours in the oven and our wood heater/baker's oven. Set it to high, put the beans on a tray and keep an eye on them. They will expand and get an oily sheen. The smell will give you a clue too. When they smell like roasted coffee beans, are plump and fat and shiny - they're done. Store them in a jar in the fridge and we mortar and pestle them as we need them for the plunger.

We have our special twice roasted blend. That's the one we get out of the oven, check and decide they need to go back in again for a while.


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