Today I am trying out a new feature, “Self-Sufficient Saturdays” where we take small, practical steps to becoming more self-sufficient. I used to have a Starbucks habit, but managed to kick it, not by giving up a tasty cup of coffee (I know it’s an acquired taste), but by learning to brew a great cup of coffee at home. And, at the same time, I have backup plans for my coffee, in case of an emergency.
A coffee drinker who is missing his or her daily coffee knows a caffeine withdrawal headache is coming. You have a few choices to avoid that pain:
- Instant coffee – the “just add a heaping teaspoon to hot water” kind that comes in a jar (not my preferred choice)
- Individual packets of Starbucks or a similar brand (Not bad, even after it expired)
- Single cup bags of coffee – also just needs hot water (this is good too)
- Give it up (I’m not ready to do this right now)
- Brew it yourself
I have a few backup plans, including all of the above, but will only give it up if I have to. This time I am brewing it myself.
You will need:
–campfire popcorn popper (or small covered skillet)
–green coffee beans
–wire mesh colander (optional)
How to Roast Green Coffee Beans
- Since I am trying to have a backup plan in the event of an emergency and we are off-grid, I used our propane camp stove. Warning: I do not recommend using a camp stove in your kitchen: this would be unsafe and can cause carbon monoxide build-up. Camp stoves should be used outside. Also, I read from various articles that roasting green coffee beans may cause a lot of smoke. Our apartment has a very sensitive fire alarm which gets set off very quickly, so we did this outside, so the fire alarm does not go off. We don’t want a visit from the fire department from having the fire alarm go off while we are roasting our beans! If you are roasting on a stove indoors, turn on the exhaust fan or open a window to make sure your area is well-ventilated.
- Assemble all your materials in advance: green coffee beans (I used Kona coffee), campfire popcorn popper, measuring cup, wire mesh colander
- To start small, I measured about a quarter of cup of green coffee beans.
- Turn on the fire to low setting. Preheat the popper on low flame.
- Pour the green coffee beans into the skillet/popper, cover and shake.
- I held the popper steady for five seconds then started moving it around.
- Keep the popper moving around and start listening for a popping sound.
- Check under the lid and look at the beans. They started to turn brown after about 5 to 7 minutes.
- The popping is not constant like popcorn, but happens every few seconds as the beans crack. This is about the time the beans start to smoke a bit.
- After about 10 minutes, I checked again and it looked like the beans were brown so I turned off the fire.
- You will notice some bits of chaff: pour into a wire colander or just blow on the beans and the bits fly off. Now you are ready to grind the beans.
These photos show the difference between the green beans and the roasted beans. The smell is also quite different: the green beans do not smell like coffee at all, they have a pungent, plantlike smell, while the roasted ones indeed smell like the strong coffee smell we all know. The aroma does linger long after you have finished roasting them.
Grinding the Beans
- I used the Danesco Manual Coffee Grinder. Adjust the grinder for maximum coarseness, if you will be using a french press. To do this, take off the handle and adjust the cog wheel up and tighten it back up.
- The grinder does not have any cushioning under the bottom, so you will need to stabilize it on the counter by placing a towel or pad underneath.
- Remove the cork stopper from under the grinding mechanism.
- Pour the beans and start grinding. Hold the grinder stable with the left hand and grind with your right hand (vice versa if you are left-handed).
I have to say this was the hardest part! It took a bit of muscle power to continuously grind the beans and hold it down. All in all, it took about seven minutes to grind the quarter cup of beans.
Brewing with the French Press
- I used the Bodum Shatterproof 8 cup French Press Coffeemaker. Eight cups sound like a lot of coffee, but actually, the “cup” is actually a 4-ounce cup, not an 8-ounce mug that most of us are used to.
- The quarter cup of whole beans made about 2 level scoops (measuring scoop came with the french press) of ground coffee. The rule of thumb is to use one scoop per cup of coffee.
- Boil water in a separate pan. I boiled about 2.5 cups of water. Turn off fire once the water boils. Because this is a plastic press, the instructions indicate the water must be hot but not boiling. I would think a glass french press would work with boiling water.
- Remove the cover/plunger of the french press.
- Pour the ground coffee into the bottom of the press.
- Pour the hot water.
- Slowly insert the cover/plunger. Turn the lid so the opening/pour spout is sealed and away from you. and press the water/coffee gently until plunger cannot go any further. Do not apply too much pressure or this may cause the water to splatter up.
- Once the coffee is pressed, it is ready to drink!
I have to say this was a fine cup of coffee. It seemed like a lot of work for two cups, but it was worth it. The result was a very fresh tasting, strong cup of coffee. Roasting the green coffee beans was not hard at all; I can roast a larger batch next time.
In a disaster situation, you can’t beat a nice comforting cup of fresh brewed coffee.
Even if we never need to make coffee off grid, knowing how to roast green coffee beans saves money in the long run.
For low-cost ways to prep:
For easy ways to become more prepared, read my book: