Friday, September 17, 2021

Taboo of Reroasting Coffee Beans

Early this year I chanced upon two pounds of "artisanal" coffee beans that my husband had completely forgotten about under his desk.  Often he will be gifted coffee at work which he promptly deposits at my bean bank. But this one being an undesirable light roast somehow languished hidden for about a year.

To a puerh drinker, a year really is a blip in time and the beans grind up to a better than expected highly drinkable brew.  But these Honduran beans are exceedingly lightly roasted barely past first crack giving me the jitters.  It's too old to giveaway to anyone and I can't drink anything this light so I had the notion to just re-roast it to a darker level.

Anytime anybody asks about re-roasting on a forum,  roasting snobs come out of the woodwork to naysay re-roasting, a technique they haven't ever tried.  Given there is precedent for re-roasting in oolongs, a far more delicate brew than coffee, I could see a re-roasting home experiment was in order.  I found mention of a Swiss technique of double roasting for a more low acid smoother brew. Lo and behold a cafe chain in Hong Kong serves double roasted beans:

"the new blend Double Roast are roasted until its first crack, then left to cool down for 48 hours, and thereafter roasted again until the desired roasting level is achieved. The cooling phase in between the 2 roasts causes the sugar in the beans to caramelise without burning, allowing the transformation of the beans to evolve into a sweet, deeply rich finish with low acidity."

I know there is a wide gap between 48 hours and a whole year of resting but where is the fun in life if you don't try.  In the end, it's me and my husband that will be quaffing this suboptimally roasted coffee and only the results down our throats will confirm whether it's a viable technique.  At worst, it would still be leaps better than coffee on an airplane and superior to anything a field solider would have gotten during the Civil War. 

Not having my hands on a more convenient popcorn popper,  I  first opted for the simplest frying pan method, not really ideal with surface heat. I've since tried a closed pot that I shake vigorously at higher heat every 5 seconds that works much better.  In my first attempt with the fry pan, I was timid with the heat and was whisking these beans for over half an hour. Even with the vigorous shakes and thorough whisking, it was an uneven roast with a few burnt beans.
Nobody will lend me their popcorn popper...

How was the end result? Pleasing. The coffee is smooth and drinkable with the taste even nuttier after a few days of curing. I guess it might be an affront to coffee snobs as the more delicate flavors of this Honduran has been burnt out.  The single roasted brew had fruity notes and a light sweetness on the tongue.  Honduran coffee tends to be mild, sweet, and offends no one so it's hard to say what of the unique characteristic it lost during it's year of sleep.  The bag did not specify the varietal and I'm not one to notice the taste difference in taste between the arabica varieties. 

I'm not going to serve this to guests and enjoy it as a breakfast brew.    Given the dramatic price inflation of boutique beans (these would have been $20 for 12 oz which seems steep for a Honduran),  I'm happy at this fortuitous experimentation.  Before when the roast in the bag is lighter than expected. I've often given them away but now I'll just re-roast. 

*Yes, from this post you may garner that I am back on the coffee train after weaning off.  I was drinking Assams daily and puerh occasionally during 2020 but it was the fraught elections that sent me seeking something more robust and non-complicated to carry me through.