WHY NOT TRY: Roasting coffee beans at home

I LOVE my coffee and I enjoy the ritual of making my morning cup o' joe.

I have a friend who is even more serious about his coffee-making than I am and he has an engineering degree.

It's little surprise that he's pulled old espresso machines apart and fashioned out Frankenstein versions. He's also designed his own machine - he got sick of seeing hipster baristas hiding behind bulky La Marzoccos and wanted his unit to resemble a beer tap.

He asked me if I wanted to try roasting my own coffee beans. How could I refuse a caffeine-fuelled adventure with this mad inventor?

You don't just walk into your local supermarket and pick up a kilo of green coffee beans - they are generally sold in bulk to roasters.

My friend gets his hands on a commercially-small amount of the beans but he does not have a purpose-built roaster. What he does have, however, is ingenuity, a willingness to try new things and a stove-top peanut roaster that he picked up in the Philippines. The device is basically a fry pan with a crank handle that ensures the peanuts are constantly moving to achieve a consistent roast. The hotplate is turned up as hot as it will go and the green beans are poured into the pan.

It's easy to work up a sweat turning the beans over the heat as a delicious fragrance fills his apartment.

I'm pretty sure my friend needs to check the batteries in his smoke alarms, because, after 15 minutes of "roasting" things got pretty smoky and I didn't hear a great deal of high-pitched tone from the ceiling.

We turn the heat down and continue roasting until the beans look about right. The beans go through the grinder before they have a chance to cool down and before you can say "java" we are sipping on a couple of perfectly brewed piccolos.

Follow David on Twitter: @bigkamo.


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