When I travel, coffeepeople often give me samples of green coffee as a gesture of sharing the bounty of their farm. The only problem is, I am not a coffee roaster, so it takes some doing for me to do transform the little half pound bags of green beans they give me into anything useful.
Luckily, Pulley Collective stepped up to help me last winter, and the fine folks at Crop to Cup Coffee Importers did the same just a few weeks ago. Crop to Cup imports coffee and has a cool new showroom out in Gowanus. The showroom doubles as a cafe, and part of the core “showing” of the showroom is that you can see lots of green coffee and even see it roasted. Since half of Crop to Cup’s catering is to home roasters, they have some fun little equipment that is the highest end in home roasting and leads to some unique sample roasting.
Dan helped me transform my beans from green to roasted on a Huky roaster linked to Artisan 8.0 software, so for the first time in my life I was able to see a roasting curve that was generated by ME! I tried to adjust the flame like I’ve always seen the pros do, and this little-gas-roaster-that-could tumbled my beans from Colombia, Panama, and Costa Rica all the way into a product ready to be ground.
There’s nothing quite like smelling roasting coffee and knowing, “that’s the scent of Titiribí, Antioquia and Santa Anita, Costa Rica cooking.” I started my coffee odyssey in order to get closer to what I consume, and carrying green coffee in a suitcase from Latin America, then storing it in a ziplock on a bookshelf for a few months, then carrying it in my purse to work in the Bronx then out to Brooklyn by subway, then having a roaster help me roast it at the end of his shift and carrying it back on the train again, now in paper tin tie bags smelling like something familiar, that, THAT is one way for me to get close to what I consume.
When I make a cup of any of the three coffees I roasted I can close my eyes and picture the people who handed me the beans, who wrapped up a sample of their farm’s work in a plastic bread bag and handed it to me saying, “Take. Roast, grind, and drink this in remembrance of me.” The miracle of agriculture is inescapable in these moments, just as the miracle of chemistry is very present as you kiss the gas flame down a notch and listen eagerly for first crack.
K cups are taking over the world and tis the season to douse everything in Pumpkin Spice, but coffee still comes from coffee, and it’s nice to know that people like Dan at Crop to Cup welcome everyone to come on down to the showroom to try their own hand at pouring the beans in the hopper and turning on the fire to make coffee into coffee.