Watching & Eating | Life


Watching: Today’s Islander’s game.

Eating: Leftover pizza.

Busy roasting coffee tonight. I’ll hopefully get a long post in soon. There was a craft fair at work last week. I sold one scarf and 5 bags of coffee. Now I am desperately trying get 5 roasts like the sample I had for people to smell.


Mexico Chiapas | Coffee

I’ve missed a couple roasts. The final of the Sweet Maria’s went pretty well. I did two 1/2lb roasts. The first was really good and the second a little less so but still in drinkable range.

Roasts 13 and 14 were the Mexican beans I got. Roast 13 was mostly a fail. I open the window and use a fan to blow the smoke out. Our neighbors in the townhouse across from us are doing some construction. So I probably missed hearing the end of 1st crack. Suddenly I was in 2nd crack and there was a lot of smoke. So I quickly hit cool and hoped I didn’t ruin it.

Turns out at work it was just drinkable. There was a tiny hint of flavor left but mostly just dark roast taste. When I made it at home under more precise conditions it was worse. The little bit of flavor was gone. It’s just drinkable but flavorless.

Tonight I tried again. I am pleased so far. I definitely didn’t over roast. The color is much better and no oil on the beans. I’ll brew it on Sunday and report back.

Bean #5 Roast #14.

Roasts 5-8| Coffee

There is not much news to report. Bean 2 was a moderate success. I did four 1/4 lb roasts. This bean has a “fruited cocoa finish”. I managed to get that every time but missed some of the middle flavors. The good news is I can put cocoa finish on my dislike list. I didn’t care for it much. I’ll admit with only four chances I didn’t figure out the best roast for this bean but I’ll cross it off my list.

The other thing I discovered is that smaller beans mean WAY more chaff. I should have realized that small beans equals more surface area per pound. Anyway it made cleaning up take longer. And I set the smoke detectors off more than once. My poor cat had to go into hiding.

I thought maybe I just needed to clean the roaster. Perhaps there was some chaff buildup that needed to be removed. That was not the case. Once I took the correct parts off to clean I saw like 3 tiny pieces of chaff. Not a pile as I expected.

I tried using a fan to blow the smoke out the open window. The roaster sits right in front of a window and I open it every time. The fan was somewhat helpful but if you do a darker roast (longer time) the smoke still filters up to the detectors. And then my husband got out the laser and made patterns in the smoke.

Since I like my things and don’t want them covered in ash. I’m working on plan B. That means getting a good table for our patio. Roasting in the garage with servers sucking in air isn’t an option. The problem with roasting outside will be winter. Here in Washington we sometimes get cold winters. That will have a big affect on my roasts. Hopefully it will work well enough.

November | Camera


November is coming soon! A bunch of us will be shooting film all month. We used to do a digital thing in October. It involved posting one photo everyday and voting.

Last year we didn’t set anything up so we decided to shoot film all November. The rules were simple. Shoot film! There wasn’t a plan to share anything. This year the rumor is we’ll be posting them somewhere to share with our group. I can’t wait! We just need to restock some Portra 400. Somehow we ran out over the summer.

I’ll be heading back to my favorite park at lunch. It has plenty of walking trails and wildlife. Add some rain and it will be perfect for all the fall pictures.

Roast #4 | Coffee

Measuring beans before the morning grind.

There’s not much to report. Roast #4 was the final of the first bean. I did just like roast #3 but added a preheat. It came out somewhere between #1 and #3. There was a tiny bit of acidity present but not as much as the first roast.

Overall I was pleased with the results of my first bean. Going in I was certain I’d have more failures than successes but I was wrong. Three out of four were good roasts. Maybe not perfect but they all had some of the flavors I was hoping for.

All four came out within a drinkable range. I still have no idea how #2 got to 2nd crack so soon. I wonder if it was due to a change in local temperature or humidity.

Up next is a bean from Costa Rico. Once again the aim is to get a good flavor and hopefully a repeatable roast.

Watching & Eating | Life


Eating: Leftover hawaiian pizza

Watching: Just finished The Five on Netflix. The ending was a total surprise. They need to make more like that. I didn’t see it coming at all. The end of episode 9 felt like misdirection but it wasn’t. It was so good!

It seemed like a normal mystery at first but it ended up being more exciting. I wasn’t sold on the Pru/Mark thing. Pru was my least favorite character. But that didn’t take away from the story line. The characters were well developed and the plot sucked me in early. I’m so glad I watched this. You should give it a watch if you haven’t.

Roast #3 | Coffee

Half of the beans I roasted.

Roast #3 was mostly a success. I did not preheat. Just 1/4 P2 and then max time minus 30 seconds. It was better than roast #1. None of the acidity this time. It still seems like the flavor isn’t fully developed.

I am beginning to think this just isn’t my bean. There is some flavor but it feels like there should be more. We’ll see when I do the final roast. Then we’ll move on to the next in my sampler.

4oz of beans become 3 3/8oz after roasting.

Up next I am going to buy 20 pounds of one bean. I realized that it would be best to try to perfect one bean before branching out. So I’ll probably order some Mexican beans soon. I’ll keep working my way through the Grand Centrals I have while mixing in some Mexican roasts.

I am hoping to have one roast good enough to gift at Christmas. The second I told my parents I had a roaster they requested beans as their Christmas gift.

I’ve been trying to document more. I remembered to get a photo of the beans just after roasting. I know it’s not exact since I did nothing to light it. I just want to have a general idea of the color of my roasts. For roast #1 I got zero pictures but I have some of #2 and #3.

This will be most important when I work on one bean for many roasts. I should figure out a way to light those and see if I can get a better learning tool from photos. Maybe I need a little light box to get consistent lighting.

Must Finish | Books

In recent years I’ve acquired a stack of half read books. It’s time to finish them before launching into anything new. The list is The Marriage Proposal by Jeffrey Eugenides, The Fires of Spring by James A. Mitchner, Finding George Orwell in Burma by Emma Larkin, The Life-Changing magic of tidying up by Marie Kondo, and Days of Reading by Marcel Proust.

I really enjoyed The Virgin Suicides and loved Middlesex. That lead me to pick up The Marriage Proposal. To be honest I’ve tried twice to get into it. It’s just not resonating with me. I am having a hard time relating to the characters. I’ll probably donate it after reading it.

The Fires of Spring is a book I saved from donation years ago. I was probably in early high school when I rescued it from my parent’s pile. I’m enjoying it so far. It’s a little bleak but that is expected. It sits at my work desk and I read bits when I arrive early. I may also donate this one after reading. It’s good but probably not something I’d want to re-read.

After reading Burmese Days I discovered Finding George Orwell in Burma. Burmese Days was a sad book. I didn’t care for the ending but the overall picture of what it was probably like then interested me. After reading it I quickly got a used copy of Finding George Orwell in Burma. It is really good book but all the oppression is depressing. Since Myanmar is back in the news I’ll probably finish it soon. I think this one is worth keeping.

I got The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up because it was all the rage on the clothing and lifestyle blogs I was reading. My hope was that it would help me sort through the few boxes of items I have stuffed in my garage. I have a problem with letting go of sentimental items I don’t use or need. Her writing style annoys me. I haven’t gotten in far enough to decided if it’s worth reading or not. I’ll probably finish it and donate it. I’ve found a few books that sound more like what I’m looking for in this category. I’ll get one of those after I donate this one.

The final book is a more recent purchase. I got excited to find it and then got busy. I have a few of his novels. Some I’ve read and some in the to read pile. So when I saw Days of Reading on a random Tumblr I knew I needed it. It’s is quite enjoyable. It just got lost in the shuffle.

Roast #2 | Coffee

I promise at some point I will stop posting pictures of beans going around in the roaster. Maybe after I create a great roast. Until then here are more pictures of beans going around in a roaster.

The plan was to add 30 seconds to my roast. I’d still preheated, hit 1/4 lb, and then Start. It would be similar to roast #1 but hopefully more flavorful.

It started as planned. I stayed close by and hit start later when I need to confirm I’m still there. At this point I tried to added a total of 2 minutes. It only let me add 1:45. Based on roast #1 I assume I wasn’t far enough to hit C.

Later when there was less than a minute left I hit C and it added the magic amount of max time.

Like 5 seconds later I heard second crack and quickly hit Cool. I had gone too far. My beans are rated at City to City+. I had taken them all the way to what should be Full City+. So I knew they would be over roasted. I put them in the jar to rest and do their thing.

I was planning to wait 36 hours again. That would have meant trying them at work this morning. The panic of “What if they suck?” kicked in. What would I do if I got to work and it was undrinkable? I grind before leaving the house. I didn’t want to have to bring a second set of grounds.

If this was drinkable I would have ground the other beans early for zero reason. Before getting the roaster I wasn’t concerned about grinding beans and having them sit a day. I’m not brewing them within the recommended 3 minutes of grinding but it does feel important to at least keep it to a couple hours.

I only waited 24 hours before brewing some just in case. So last night I made some coffee before dinner.

The verdict is yes, they are over roasted. But they still have some flavor and the coffee is totally drinkable. It didn’t taste “baked” so I have something to be happy about.

Next time I won’t preheat the roaster. I’ll also try a lower setting. P1 is full heat. Maybe they need more time to get up first crack. Full heat and preheat might have been pushing them there too soon.

Also I remembered to record a couple temperatures in my notebook. One day I’ll have all the parts written down to make a consistent cup of coffee. I have a 1/2 pound of these beans left so 2 chances. Then it’s on to the next one.

Roast #2 down…many, many more till I get it right. This is fun!