by Sydney Smith, Maliko Estate Coffee
When my husband Maurice and I first bought our property in Upcountry Maui we noticed all the wild coffee trees growing along the river bank. Out of curiosity we picked the red cherries, laboriously removed the fruit from the beans, dried them in the sun and then picked off the parchment husks revealing the green beans. After all that work we finally had enough to attempt a roast. We spread them on a cookie sheet and baked them in the oven until they achieved a nice roasted color. Then we ground them in our Krups grinder and brewed up a pot. The only thing about that experiment that resembled coffee at all was the color. It was over twenty years ago, but as I remember it, we both spit out the results and concluded that we must have had the worst coffee on the planet growing on our property.
Of course, except for picking the red cherries we had done everything else wrong. Processing the cherries and drying the beans properly is an art in itself. And roasting is another art. We have since learned the error of our ways and before we had the quantities necessary for commercial roasters we had some delicious results from a simple hand-crank stove-top roaster.
It's a smoky business, but worth it. The addition of the smoky notes to your brewed cup are always a pleasure to experience. More commercial roasters on the market extract the smoke and you'll get a cup closer to the roasted beans available at your favorite coffee store.
Preview the book, Home Coffee Roasting by Kenneth Davids or just type "Home Coffee Roasting" on the YouTube search bar. You'd be amazed at the variety of contraptions coffee lovers have come up with. One of my favorites is a cylindrical colander rigged up to a barbecue rotisserie. A hand-crank popcorn popper can also be used.
The San Franciscan Coffee Roaster comes in one pound and six pound models.
If you think you might want to try this at home, ask your favorite coffee store (or coffee farmer if you know one locally) for a *bag of green coffee beans and try your hand at home roasting.
*Do not ship green coffee beans in to an area where coffee grows, such as Hawaii. This is how insect predators get introduced and we don't want that. If you have questions, your local Department of Agriculture should be able to help you.