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!