"Espresso! My Espresso!"
An Ongoing Internet Novelette
by Randy Glass - Copyright 2002 - All rights reserved
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
11So wifee and I sat down, went through all the machines I had found and we had discussed, looked at their various spec sheets at the various suppliers websites on the Internet, settled on the decision to get the Rancilio Silvia and a grinder. Well, that's what we thought. I started looking at grinders, and with a price range starting at around $50 going up to ludicrous it was a difficult decision. I shopped and shopped.. What a mistake. I am beginning to think the entire Internet is nothing but a giant money vacuum waiting to be filled by my wallet.
We're Done.. Wanna Bet? I'm Roasted!
About this time on Usenet a number of folks were talking about roasting- yes, roasting their own coffee beans. This can take the form of anything from a stove-top device that looks something like a JiffyPop popper to using a modified hot-air popcorn popper to specialty machines that cost many hundreds of dollars.
The question at this point would have to be, "Why bother roasting?" Well, once you have gone through the difficulties of purchasing an espresso machine and a home grinder, and are striving to make every cup taste as good and fresh as possible, why go through all that effort and use pre-roasted beans that could be who knows how old? You have control over the grind, the brew time, the water, and more only to leave the most important part, the choice of beans and their roast, to someone else.
According to the experts, or at least a lot of folks in the know, a roasted bean is generally best used from one to four days or so of its roasting. Four days!? Although they state that they are still fairly fresh for up to three weeks, the best taste is within the first four days or so. Since it is just the two of us drinking coffee here most of the time, and coffee is usually sold by the half pound or more, and subtracting delivery time, it sounded like we would not be getting the best from our coffee.
Back on the Internet I looked up coffee roasting and found another dozen or more websites that talked about roasting, some that sold roasters, and sources for green (un-roasted) beans (which keep for quite a long time compared to the roasted beans).
I found some interesting history on coffee roasting at the Lucidcafe in the "About Coffee" section. Portions of Kenneth Davids' book, Home Coffee Roasting: Romance and Revival, can be found there as well.
One of the more interesting parts was the revelation that before around 1930 nearly everyone roasted their
own coffee or got their roasted beans from neighborhood roasters. With the arrival of mass transportation
and the large coffee roasting business it wasn't too long before everyone was buying their coffee in grocery
stores, already processed and ground.