In my prepping I need fresh ground and brewed coffee
Anyone that knows me for any length of time knows I love a good cup of coffee and it is generally not a good idea to talk to me before I have had a good strong cup of joe to start my day. In preparing for an uncertain future, I have had some concerns about shortages of different items. As we travel around the country, Linda and I have noticed that in some places, the shelves are sometimes empty of even the basic of supplies. I fear this will become more commonplace. For instance, when we were in a small town in Iowa, we couldn’t find dish soap. When we approached the manager, he said “it’s on the truck”. Further examination lead the discovery that most chain stores only stock three days of products. So, I started to worry, what would happen if I ran out of coffee beans to grind and brew? I don’t want to return to that mediocre stuff they sell ground up at supermarkets. Who knows how long that stuff has sat in warehouses, on hot trucks, or on market shelves?
After some investigation, I discovered that most critics agree that good tasting coffee only last a short time after the beans are roasted. I have been buying and grinding my own beans for several years now. Roasted coffee beans only last for a week when properly stored before losing flavor. In searching the internet, I discovered a company that will ship sealed cans of green beans that will last up to 20 years sealed in the can. I even read a story about a crew that recovered a sealed ceramic jar of beans at the bottom of the ocean that had been setting there for over 100 years. After scientific examination, these beans were declared safe to roast and brew. Participants in this experience claimed the coffee was as robust and fresh tasting and compared the brew to a fresh crop.
The following is what I have learned about getting the most out of your fresh coffee beans. The beans look smaller in the green state. This company packs them in 19 oz. cans. I recommend roasting and storing beans in a sealed colored glass or ceramic jar for a week. I recently decorated a mason jar for storing that I will talk about later. These green beans are going to cook for about 10 minutes before they are dark roasted. I like a darker roast, but if you like a lighter roast, you can stop the cooking of the beans a little sooner. Check the beans for any signs of mold. They should have the color and finish similar to split peas or green lentil beans. Because of standards and regulations, most coffee beans that are imported to the US are grown at or above 5,000 feet. These beans come from Costa Rica. All are Arabic beans. If kept in a burlap sack, green coffee beans will stay fresh when kept in a cool, dry, place for up to one year.
I roast coffee beans outside because of the smoke, smell, and heat that is generated. The first step is to get a heat source, covered pan, wooden spoon, oven mitt, and cookie sheet ready. I use an outdoor cook stove. Get the pan hot to about 500 degrees before placing the green beans inside.
This takes about 3-5 minutes. I use a glass lid because you can see what is happening inside, but you can a metal cover if that is what you have. I use a cast iron skillet because it contains and keeps a steady heat which gives a more even roast. You can use any cookware that can handle the high heat. Be sure to remember to use a mitt, as the lid and handle get very hot in this process. I have read that some people use a whisk or metal spoon to stir the beans, but I prefer wood. Some say that the metal touching the beans gives the coffee flavor a metallic taste that is unpleasant.
Start with about 3/4 cup of beans. As you see here, I am adding them to the skillet a little at a time. Don’t worry if some beans are already turning brown or black. You must constantly stir the beans to get an even roast. You will hear them popping like popcorn and some hissing–and a lot of smoke! This is normal. When they are fully roasted, they will have the appearance of burnt beans. This is Italian roast level. Less cooking gives a milder taste and roast level. Experiment and keep a sample once you have reached the level of doneness that is to your liking. This amount will make about 10 cups of coffee.
If you don’t have a pan, no worries, you can roast the coffee beans in the oven! It is suggested that you have adequate ventilation as the process is smoky. Place the beans on a cookie sheet so there is one level and a slight space between beans. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the cookie sheet of coffee beans in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Stir and cool. Remove the hulls with a hair dryer or by placing the beans in a colander. Grind and enjoy. They will not get the darker, richer roast, but are adequate for most people’s taste.
A third method I read about is using a hot air popcorn popper. Place about ¾ cup of beans in the popcorn maker and place a bowl to catch the hulls. When the coffee beans darken, they are ready to be poured out on a cookie sheet to cool. Cool for about 15 minutes and then store them for use.
After cooling coffee beans for about 15 minutes and removing the hull, they are ready for storage. Light, air, heat, and moisture are the enemies of coffee beans. Store you beans in an airtight container. I made a cammo container from a mason jar to store my roasted beans for use.
I like to brew in different ways, but the French press is my favorite. Some like to brew a cup at a time, while others prefer the drip method. I have a friend who like cowboy coffee. He likes to smash his roasted beans with a hatchet. First he rolls the roasted beans in an old towel, then he continues to hit at the bag until he breaks up the beans into small pieces. He places the beans in a coffee pot and lets them boil before removing the pot from the fire. Then he adds a secret step. He adds about a half of a cup of cold water to the brew which settles the grounds before serving. It’s great outdoor coffee.
Whatever else you place in you prepping storage, I recommend cans of coffee beans. If you are not a coffee drinker yourself, they will be a great barter item that is now relatively inexpensive.