September 17, 2010

Posted by:

Paul Swift



I love coffee

Home coffee roaster and beans

My morning routine revolves around coffee. As soon as I arrive at the Museum I make myself a cup of instant. Nothing special here – just a quick spoonful of powder and hot water; a triumph of technology. I doubt there will any of this at the Coffee Festival this Sunday.

Then moving around the Museum I see objects that remind me of another period in time, when a cup of coffee was not something to be rushed – it was to be poured from an elegant ceramic pot, for instance, while you were reclining in the elegance of a Robert Adam chair.

I love real coffee – you just can’t beat the scent of freshly roasted beans or the sight of the perfect crema on a short, sharp, deliciously thick espresso.

A few years ago I took my coffee obsession to another level by learning how to roast my own coffee beans at home! There is something magical about the transformation of the pale, aroma-less green beans into the dark, aromatic, hissing and popping coffee beans that we recognise and adore. They come alive during the roasting process. Green beans keep much longer than roasted ones and are cheaper to buy too.

Roasting beans can be an exact science but not for me. I prefer to rely upon my eyes, ears and nose when roasting – no need for thermometers or timers. My cheap popcorn maker does the job for me.

I roast outside (it’s quite messy once the beans start to shed their outer layers!) I use my trusty sieve to catch the hot beans (you can’t touch them as they will burn you) as they leap out of the roaster and return them to the machine for some more heat.

All the time I am listening for the first crack – the sound which is produced when the bean reaches a certain temperature and they really do make a cracking noise at this stage.

Now you begin to make your choice about the amount of roasting time that you want the beans to endure – lots of jargon exists to describe the various roast levels,  Viennese, City, French right through to burnt! I personally wait for a second crack to be heard a few times then I switch off the machine but let the beans continue smoking and jumping about for a few more minutes. I like a dark roast.

Once second crack has been reached and the beans have sat for a few minutes I start to cool the beans down by transferring them between sieve and bowl over and over again until they are cool enough to touch.

Finally I take them inside and leave them to cool further and release their gasses for the rest of the day. Then I seal them up ready to make my espresso. So much better than the instant I have at work!

Thai Laab Setthee recipe

Thai Laab Setthee

Thai Laab Setthee

Tomorrow, Thai community leader  Maneeka Campbell will be preparing a classic Thai dish for Kai to Pie. A key ingredient is the ground roasted rice, which Campbell says adds a subtle texture and flavour. Traditionally eaten as a snack or part of a main course, Laab Setthee is best served with plenty of fresh vegetables. “My family likes to spoon the mixture into fresh lettuce leaves”. Sounds delicious.

Laab Setthee
227 grams ground pork (can also use chicken)
1 tablespoon ground toasted rice
1 shallot, thinly sliced
Juice of half lime
1/4 tablespoon ground dried chilli
2 tablespoons fish sauce

3 spring onions, sliced.
Handful of fresh Thai mint leaves, chopped fine.

Handful of chopped coriander.   

To make ground toasted rice, place uncooked rice in a dry wok/frying pan over medium-high heat.  As the rice heats up, shake the pan back and forth or stir with a spoon. After a few minutes, the rice will turn a light golden brown and will begin to pop (like popcorn). When it begins to pop, transfer the rice to a coffee grinder or pestle and mortar.  Grind down to a course powder.

Then place the ground pork in heated pan and stir until cooked. Turn off the heat and add the ground toasted rice, shallot, lime, fish sauce, spring onions, mint leaves and coriander.  Gently toss the mixture. Serve with sliced cucumber and sliced cabbage.  Serves 2.

Samoan Ceviche recipe

Hi Michael here from Meredith’s restaurant. I’ll be preparing this ceviche dish at the Museum at 11am for this Saturday’s for World on Your Plate: Samoan. I have included the recipe below for you to try.

Cerviche (vegetarian), with citrus and coriander

Ceviche (vegetarian), with citrus and coriander (serves 4)


1 green coconut

2 pink grapefruit

2 limes

3 shallots finely sliced

2 radishes sliced

Baby coriander

Chopped chives


Celery stalks, finely sliced

Cucumber, finely sliced


Crack the coconut open, reserved some juice for the dressing, use a spoon and scoop out the flesh.

Place flesh with the citrus in a bowl, add shallots, cucumber, celery and dressing, let stand for 5 min to marinade, add herbs adjust seasoning and serve garnish and coriander

Dressing 200ml coconut juice 100ml grapefruit juice Lime juice Coconut vinegar 200ml coconut oil or olive oil Sugar Salt to taste

Method for dressing

Mix juices with the vinegar, whisk in oil then season with sugar and salt.