I roast my own coffee.
When I lived in New England, roasting my own coffee meant we could have delicious coffee at home (really good because it was freshly roasted, not because I have any magical coffee powers beyond being lucky enough to have a small coffee roaster). When I started roasting, freshly roasted coffee was a rarity.
Now that I live in Portland, good coffee is never more than a couple of blocks away. Coffee roasting is now a big yawn, but I enjoy roasting my own and still do it as much as I can. I roast outside because my roaster throws off a lot of smoke, so once the weather gets too wet or too cold I stop, but Portland’s winter is mild enough that there are usually still a few good days when I can get a few roasts in, even in January.
My formula for blending coffee is simple: 50% Sumatra and 50% other coffees, with a preference towards chocolate, caramel and malt flavors, and including some fruit, berry or citrus flavors.
I’m a lazy blender. I just mix the beans together and roast the blend. A better roaster would roast each type of bean separately, carefully paying attention to the roaster to listen for the beans cracking, to decide when to remove heat. If I did this the result would be a little bit better than it is now, but the extra work would leave me less interested in roasting.
I used to blend a few pounds of beans as needed, in a spare ten-pound bag. This time around I’m also getting lazier with the blending - I dug up a plastic tub I used to use for sous viding and just dumped all the beans in it and mixed them there. Now I’ll never not roast because I don’t feel like mixing the beans up.
I like Sumatra because it usually has a deep, dark, chocolate-ish flavor and frankly doesn’t have any notes of cat piss. Sumatra can be a little one-note, though; that’s why I blend. And while I love a cup of coffee that tastes like chocolate milk, I like a little complexity in the roast as well. Hence the blend.
“A surprisingly clean coffee from a very unique origin. Rich and thick with chocolate, carob and malt building a backdrop for cinnamon, black currant and peanut flavors in the finish. A smooth, no-bite coffee that will shine at medium to dark roasts and pair well with milk.”
That sounds fantastic! I usually buy 20 pounds of coffee to blend and gradually roast as needed, since green coffee beans store very well. So I picked up 10 pounds of this great-sounding coffee I’d never tried, reserved a little to roast on its own (spoiler warning: it’s as good as it sounds, almost like barely sweetened cocoa) and blended the rest.
So this month I’m doing my first non-Sumatra-based roast in ages, with the Timor as the foundation and five other coffees as contributors. I usually do a light to medium roast, so the overall flavors are:
- chocolate, cacao
- butterscotch, maple, brown sugar , cane sugar, caramel
- cinnamon, citrus, grapefruit, black currant
- nuts (almond, hazelnuts, peanut)
- carob, malt, graham
- tobacco, oats, peat, herbs, juniper
Works for me.
The blend is 10% of each of the following coffees and 50% of the Timor.
“Classic Colombian coffee, and prime example of why they are so popular. Lighter roasts present flavors of caramel, sweet cacao and brown sugar with a graham nutiness and a touch fresh citrus. Darker roasts increase the smooth body and highlight dark chocolate and tamarind flavors.”
Costa Rica Santa Elena Miel
“A subtle twist on a classic Costa Rican flavor profile. Lighter roasts will highlight cane sugar, sweet grapefruit, butterscotch, almond and maple flavors. Darker roasts will transition to molasses and bakers chocolate flavors.”
Flores Bajawa Ngura
“A delicious coffee that is as rich and interesting as the country that produced it. Lighter roasts present flavors of dark chocolate, hazelnuts, fresh tobacco and crisp juniper. Darker roasts will draw out the classic rich earthy and baker chocolate flavors.”
Java Curah Tatal
“A crowd favorite, especially for those that love the rich earthy coffees of Indonesia. Flavors of dark chocolate, fresh savory herbs, sweet oats and peat are present in lighter roasts. As the roast develops the earthy bakers chocolate flavors take over.”
“A deliciously chocolatey crowd pleaser. Lighter roasts present flavors of sweet milk chocolate, mild roasted nuts, caramel and cane sugar with a touch of sweet citrus. Flavors transition to dark chocolate and dark roasted nuts as roasts progress towards second crack.”