Sips

Roast your own

So you stopped drinking instant. And started going to St*rb*cks. And realized after a while that the lattes you were drinking had a lot more milk than coffee in them. And bought a grinder and began trying different whole-bean coffees at home. Pretty caffeine sophisticated, aren't you? Then when are you going to start roasting your own? No kidding. And there are actually pretty good reasons for doing so. As you know, roasted coffee beans start losing their zing after only a few days. And storing them in the freezer is a pain. But green coffee beans keep indefinitely—well, a year, maybe—without appreciable loss in quality. So if you don't like having to choose between a perky Sumatra for breakfast time and that luscious dark- roasted Mocha Harrar for after dinner, great: You've got both on the shelf waiting to be toasted just the way you like them. Another reason that looks better than it is: Green coffee is comparatively cheap—$4.50 to $6 a pound for even the very best quality. But that's not as cheap as it looks, because green coffee contains a lot of water, so a pound of green only lasts about half as long as a pound of roasted. But the most important reason for roasting your own beans is control. You can't imagine how important it becomes to get your beans just right once you're in charge of the roasting process yourself. It's like sitting down in the driver's seat yourself after years of having someone else push the metal for you. Is there a downside? Of course. For one thing, green coffee isn't widely available yet, so you have to get it by mail order, even in Seattle. For another, you need to buy yet another kitchen gadget that will run you $60 to $120—a gadget, moreover, that's still new enough on the market that not all the bugs are worked out yet. (Good reason to buy a more expensive model, even though it doesn't roast any more beans than the cheap one: It's more solidly made and has a lot of built-in safety features to prevent you from frying your beans—or the kitchen.) The last negatives to consider are time—it takes anywhere from five to 10 minutes to roast a half-cup of green coffee (enough to buzz two serious drinkers)—and smell: To some people (fortunately not many), roasting coffee smells like smoldering shoe leather. Others love it. Hell, it's almost summer: Open the window, why don't you? Check out a Northwest source of green coffee and home roasting appliances at www.roastyourown.com. rdowney@seattleweekly.com

 
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