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Green Beans for a Popcorn Roaster

Richard Kilgore

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I am going to be roasting with a popcorn popper. What kinds of green beans should I use for a french press (coarse grind), Mokka fine grind), and Vietnamese Iced Coffee (fine grind).

Should I start out experimenting with an inexpensive green bean, then graduate to something better? And how about sources for green beans. I can get a few pounds of Columbian from a commercial roaster here through a friend, but I don't think he routinely sells his green beans.

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The variety of green beans that you experiment with should be broad enough initially to allow for a good feel with the characteristics that varietals can offer. I suggest starting with the sample pack of greens from Sweet Maria's and then branching out from there. Acquiring a pound or two of beans through your local source might be an inexpensive way to start testing out your roasting levels and techniques but with approximatley 3 - 4 ounces of beans per batch in a popper, you'll find that not much coffee is wasted in the learning curve. I only scorched two small batches when learning on my Poppery and have repeated that process only twice on the Alpenrost.

Sweet Maria's 4 pk or 8 pk sampler

You'll have to scroll to the bottom of the page to see these - at $32 plus shipping for a package of 8 separate 1 lb bags, this is a great way to start. You'll find slightly cheaper prices some places that SM's offers (they usually ruin $4 to $6 for green beans and some places are $1 to $2 less per pound). It's important, when buying green beans, to obtain them from a source that you can trust to be shipping you current year crop or at least stuff from late in last year's crop. Green beans are good for about 2 years after harvest and drying - some of mine sit for up to a year or a bit more in my cupboard before I roast them. I like knowing that what I get is fresh when I receive it.

I'll also suggest that, regardless fo where you buy the bans, you look through the cupping descriptions and roasting recommendations on the SM's web site. It makes it easier to pick and chose what beans will work best for you.

In addition to your own personal taste, which will obviously be the leading factor in which beans to use, you may find that the brighter note and more acidic varietals, such as the Mexican and Central American's, can be a bit much when roasted with a hot air popper. I personally like those varieties when they're drum roasted for a longer roast profile (i.e. 15 - 19 minutes) much more so than I do when they are roasted in the 5 - 6 minute range with a hot air roaster. Keep in mind that it's strictly personal taste. For example.... Kona coffee, even the finest grades properly roasted, is not high on my list of favorites, despite the fact that it's a popular and highly regarded coffee. It has a delicate and subtle flavor profile with floral notes. I look for a bolder and more robust flavor profile in my coffee - it's not better - it's just what I like. OTOH, I really like Jamaican Blue Mountain because it has a bit more body but is so remarkably well balanced. My personal preference is mostly for the low acid Indonesian coffees and the African's such as Ethiopian Harrar and Yirgacheffe.

Experimentation is the key. If you do espresso blending it becomes even more complex - some blends work well as straight espresso but less so with milk and others are great for iced drinks but not as appealing when served hot. You've touched on a point of interest for me when mentioning Viet style iced coffee - I'm about to try a few blends for that, one including a bit of roasted chicory. It's worth noting that most US based Viet restaurants used either Cafe du Monde or Community Coffee foir their iced coffee drinks. These are both New Orleans brands and are dark roasted - a roast profile to consider when doing this at home.

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I'ldd second the reccomendation for Sweet Maria's. Their cupping descriptions are invaluable.

They've also started doing something new that I find extremely helpful - a capsule description of the varietal's or blend's characteristics are printed on the bag label, along with suggested roasting level. Much easier than jumping back to their web site or to my notes to determine that info when choosing some beans from the drawer and roasting them.

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Thanks, Owen. I ordered the 4 lb sampler (eight different half pound bags) from Sweet Maria's. I am going to burn the local beans first, :biggrin: and then try the Sweet Maria's.

Yes, I saw Cafe du Monde in a Vietnamese market tonight, and a local Pho shop manager told me that they use Goya coffee. But I have been using the Trung Nguyen brand from Vietnam that is very finely ground for iced cofee. Works amazingly well for already ground coffee beans. This I would like to replicate.

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