Tag: coffee

Happenings Around the Homestead

What a slow week around here, at least on ‘homestead’ things.  I can’t think of a single thing I have done other than dehydrate some herbs and make yogurt.

I had hoped to work on the roof of the chicken coop this weekend, but I didn’t get around to it with the rain on the early part of the weekend and a need to just take it easy in the later part of the weekend.

This week I hope to dry some more mint, re-pot some mint, work on the chicken coop roof, and pick garlic.  Yes, I actually have some garlic that is ready to be harvested.  It is a little earlier than normal, but it is time.

Now off to finish my cup of coffee and think about all the things I wish I had accomplished this week.  🙂

Happenings Around the Homestead

What a difference a week can make!  Last week we were basking in wonderful temperatures, and this week we have had freeze warnings!  I read one person on Facebook who said, “If I knew spring was only going to last three days, I would have made sure to enjoy it more.”  😀

I am running into the same issue I ran into last year about this time.  My workload at the office has increased to a point where I can barely get anything done at home, and when I am at home, I am quite frankly ready to rest.  I am determined that this will not slow down planting when that time comes this year though.

Oh, speaking of plants, let me share what I saw yesterday!

Chocolate Mint

Ms. T, the tenacious Chocolate Mint

I rarely “name” my plants.  In fact, I think it sounds kind of crazy, but this one earned a name.  I call her Ms. T., which stands for Ms. Tenacious.  I have been growing this mint for a number of years now, and when I first bought the plant it barely survived.  In fact, the other mints that were purchased at the same time died.  Why?  They were potted and didn’t get watered during a very hot, dry spell.  She has also survived two winters of very cold temperatures, and a summer of very hot, very dry weather.  No matter what is thrown at it, this mint just keeps going.  I was happy to see her popping her head up good and strong this spring – a sure sign warmer days are to come soon.

This weekend my oldest son and I spent some time staking out the garden so we would know exactly where to plant things this spring.  I didn’t finish it though, as I became a bit overwhelmed with it all.  I’m not sure why that is.  I may try to finish it this upcoming weekend.  Thankfully I have some time.

One other thing I spend some time on this weekend was roasting coffee.  This has been one of the better coffees I have had in a while – it is a Brazilian coffee, which is typically one of my favorites.

Roasting Coffee

Roasting Coffee

I sure do enjoy the fresh-roasted coffee.  Until you have had it, you can’t imagine how good it is.

Oh, one last thing before I go – be sure to watch this upcoming Wednesday for a post with a great comic one of my son’s created.

Happenings Around the Homestead

It has been a busy weekend around the homestead, with the bulk of that time spent building the northern run extension for the chickens.  Check back tomorrow for pics and details on that.

It seems that every weekend I have more on my to-do list than there is hours in the day, and this weekend was that way and then some!  On Saturday I intended on finishing the run extension, then working on winter sowing (am I ever going to get to this!?), roasting coffee, and the normal weekend chores.  I only finished the run extension and roasted coffee though.

It is funny, when I tell folks I roast coffee, the most often think I mean that I grind coffee.  They don’t realize I actually roast my own beans.  Not only that, I do it in a kind of old-fashioned way – in an iron skillet over a charcoal fire:

Roasting Coffee

Roasting Coffee

No, that is not me stirring the coffee.  My lovely wife agreed to hold the pan and stir while I snapped a picture.  This week I roasted mostly Brazilian coffee, but this batch happened to be a new one for me: Peruvian.  I just finished a cup as I am writing this, and it is a definite keeper.  I tend to enjoy the South American coffees best, and in my opinion this Peruvian coffee had that same flavor I enjoy.

Do you realize it is just three months until May?  That means it is just three months until my garden will be fully planted, I hope!  I know it seems so far out, but it won’t be long until the cooler weather crops are growing.  That reminds me – I need to be getting some peas sown!  Argh!  Maybe next weekend!  😀  No boredom, that is for sure!

Happenings Around the Homestead

Like much of the US, this past week has been a nasty week, so there wasn’t much happening around the homestead this week.  That certainly hasn’t stopped my mind from wandering on spring planting though.  😀  Like most gardeners, I get so ready to spend time in the garden this time of year that I cannot hardly stand it.  This year is that and more.  I am so ready to get this larger garden planted and see what comes from it.

One of the things I had hoped to be able to accomplish this week was some winter sowing.  What is winter sowing?  Ah, I am glad you asked!  😀  Winter sowing is something I read about not long ago where you make miniature greenhouses out of 2 liter bottles, quart or gallon milk jugs, or any other container that is mostly transparent and made of plastic.  You then set the containers out in your yard in a mostly sunny place and let the seeds do their thing.  They freeze and thaw, and eventually start growing inside this somewhat protected container, which allows you to have the benefits of a greenhouse combined with the benefits of not having to harden off your plants.  Oh, I can see I need a whole post on this!  Let me do just that later in the week.  In the meantime, you can see a really good video on it here:

I also roasted some coffee this weekend, but essentially botched it.  I had my fire too hot and ended up with a French Roast instead of my normal light roast.  SIGH.  It is still a very smooth cup of coffee though.  Surprisingly smooth.

The other big project around the homestead that I did get to this week was changing out the litter in the chicken coop.  You’ll be able to read more about that in The Chicken Chronicles this week.  However, this is one of the big reasons we have chickens.  They are fertile soil making machines!  I like the way some describe it – my chickens are fertile soil making machines that happen to also lay eggs.  😀


Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Coffee

  1. Science confirms: the more coffee you drink, the longer you will live! – Did you know that coffee is a major source of antioxidants?  There are also major studies that show coffee drinkers have a lower risk of dying from total and cause specific mortality.  A study in the New England Journal of Medicine states, “… after adjustment for tobacco-smoking status and other potential confounders, there was a significant inverse association between coffee consumption and mortality.”  I love this image from AuthorityNutrition.com:
    From the looks of it, the magic number of cups a day is 4-5 for both men and women. 🙂
  2. Lighter roasted coffee has more caffeine that darker roasted coffee – According to Wikipedia (and other sites as well), Caffeine diminishes with increased roasting level: light roast – 1.37%, medium roast – 1.31%, and dark roast – 1.31%.
  3. Coffee is a fruit!  That is right, it is not really a bean, it is a fruit.  What we call coffee beans are actually seeds of this fruit that somewhat resembles a cherry.  Among other things, the seeds are separated from the fruit, and the seeds are dried, which gives us what is known as a green coffee bean.  Now, the next time someone says you have had too much coffee, just remind them that you are getting your daily fruit intake.
  4. You can thank coffee for the webcam.  No, coffee didn’t invent the webcam, but an empty coffee pot (the Trojan Room Coffee Pot) inspired it. Coffee drinkers at the University of Cambridge were tired of walking to the coffee pot to only find it empty, so the webcam was invented to monitor the coffee pot.
  5. Civet Coffee has been called the most expensive coffee in the world.  At $700 a liter, that is not hard to believe.  It is not a type of coffee though, but instead it is coffee that has been specially processed.  Civet coffee is made from coffee beans that have been eaten and excreted by the Asian Palm Civet, a wild cat from southeast Asia.  Yes, you read right.  People actually pay for coffee that comes from beans dug out from the dung of a cat.  SIGH.  No thank you.
  6. Apparently it is just a rumor that Civet Coffee is the most expensive.  Black Ivory Coffee actually takes the award.  It is not fished out of cat dung, but instead, it is fished out of elephant dung!  EWWWW!  Get this: it sells for $1100 a liter!  Again, SIGH.  No thank you.
  7. Over 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed in the world every day.  Just for comparison’s sake, there are 12.7 billion cups of oil consumed in the US daily (18.89 million barrels a day x 672 (the number of cups in a barrel)).  That means coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world, behind oil.
  8. Coffee can protect against Alzheimer’s and Type 2 Diabetes.  Like I need another excuse to drink a cup!
  9. You may have heard of The Bible Belt, but did you know there is a Bean Belt?  All of the world’s coffee is grown between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, otherwise known as the Bean Belt.
  10. Though coffee snobs, of which I am one, mostly think of the region that the bean comes from, there is another consideration.  The type of bean.  Most coffee sold is Arabica, but there is another common bean: Robusta.  According to www.thekitchn.com, Arabica tends , “to have a sweeter, softer taste, with tones of sugar, fruit, and berries.”  Robusta has, on the other hand, ” [a] stronger, harsher taste, with a grain-like overtone and peanutty aftertaste.”  Oh, and Robusta has twice the caffeine.  Even so, I, for one, prefer Arabica.

The Joy of Home Coffee Roasting

Coffee.  It is one of the subjects I enjoy discussing way past the tolerance level of many other people.  In fact, I chuckle inside when I hear someone order a Carmel Macchiato at Charbucks Starbucks and refer to themselves as a coffee snob.  I digress.  Let me open the doors of coffee in my world to you.

Several years ago my wife and I went on a vacation to the Big Island of Hawaii.  As many of you know, Kona Coffee is thought to be some of the best coffee in the world, and it is grown right there on the Big Island.  While we were there, we took a tour of Greenwell Farms, something I highly recommend.  I learned more about coffee that day than I thought there was to learn, but the biggest lesson came at the end of the tour.  Our guide walked us back to the area where the tour started, and we stood by a table with several coffee pots.  He invited us to try some of Greenwell Farms coffee, which I was glad to do.  As I poured my cup and began to put sugar and cream in it, our guide said, “Wait!  Don’t ruin my coffee with that stuff!”  I explained to him that I liked my coffee like candy, and with a horrified look he shared with me that this was simply because I had never had good coffee before.  Being the good guest, I reluctantly listened to him, knowing full well I would have to doctor it up if I wanted to drink it.  LOW AND BEHOLD, I was wrong!

Honestly, friends, this was an eye-opening moment for me.  I had drank coffee much of my life, and my entire adult life.  I cannot recall ever enjoying black coffee prior to this, but WOW, that was a good cup of coffee!  Naturally, I thought that this must be because Kona coffee is so good.  That indeed is partially true, but that is not the only reason, nor is it the biggest reason.  Our guide explained to me that the two reasons most people do not like black coffee is because it is often burnt, hiding the natural flavor of the coffee bean, and because it is stale.  He then told us that contrary to popular believe, the freshness of coffee has little to do with when it was ground, but it has much more to do with when it was roasted, and if it was roasted more than two weeks prior to the date you are drinking it, it is likely stale.

The stale part intrigued me, but not nearly as much as the burnt part.  After all, a friend of mine who is a self-proclaimed coffee snob would tell me that good coffee is always very dark.  He would also rave about the quality of Charbucks.  Oops.  I did it again.  Starbucks.  What I began to find is that he, like many others, has been brainwashed by clever marketing.  You see, a good light roast of coffee is diffult to do, and almost impossible in a large commercial environment like the nationwide coffee chains.  Therefore, they market the “quality” of a dark roast.  It is really all they can do.  Before you interrupt me and remind me of the Blonde Roast, you should know that this is not a light roast.  It is just lighter than their other roasts.  I could go on about this, and perhaps I will in a later post, but for now I will leave it at this: the wonder of a good, light roast coffee is something most people have yet to experience.

After this trip to Hawaii, I was determined to find good coffee that I could afford.  The truth be told, I love Greenwell Farms product.  In fact, I encourage you to try it – you won’t regret it.  I will never forget that first cup of good coffee, but it is not something I can afford to drink daily.  It is expensive to purchase, and expensive to ship to the mainland USA.

After much exploring, I found that there was NOTHING on the shelves at the store that fit what I was looking for.  Coffee labeled as Kona Coffee was just a shadow of the real thing, containing only a small percentage of Kona Coffee.  Finally, I decided that there may be a market for good, fresh-roasted coffee, so I began looking into a coffee roasting business.  While looking into this, I found that it is practical for a person like me to home roast my coffee.  I found a good supplier, Sweet Maria’s, and ordered my first batch.

I decided to take the rustic approach, and looking back I am not sure this was the best approach, but I still use it today.  I roast my coffee using an iron pan over a charcoal fire.  Check it out:







Once again, after experimenting with home roasting, my life was forever changed.  Though I found the light roast was the most important part of good coffee, I have since found that stale coffee does indeed taste different, and I do my best to roast at least every three weeks, though that is sometimes more of a commitment than I can follow through on.  Even so, it is much more fresh than what I am going to get elsewhere.  I have also since discovered how much of a variety there is in coffee.  For example, Kona is great coffee, as is South American coffee, particularly Brazilian.  While I enjoy all fresh roasted coffee, there are some that aren’t as good to me.  For example, I am not as big of a fan of Sumatran coffee, or quite frankly Kenyan coffee, though both are entirely palatable.  It is simply amazing to taste the differences in these beans, especially when roasted at a nice light roast.

After reading all this, you may be inclined to start home roasting your own coffee, and I tell you with mixed feelings to be careful.  On the one hand, it is an experience I would never trade.  I have had my eyes opened to something I consider to be a real pleasure in my life, but on the other, I sincerely feel I should warn you that once you open this door, you cannot shut it again.  What I mean is this: you will NEVER view office coffee, Charbucks coffee, or most any other chain coffee in the same light again.  In fact, it may do as it has done for me, and you may find those coffees unpalateable.  Yes, I can still drink them, but it sure isn’t with any sort of satisfaction.  All it does is make me long for a good cup of home roasted coffee again.