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#12 Growing and Roasting Your Own Coffee

Two coffees to wake up, an espresso after lunch, a cappuccino to fight the 3 o’clock fatigue and then one more espresso after dinner. For many, a tough habit to break. But what happens, once you go „full self-sufficient“? No more coffee? Fear not: In theory, it’s possible to grow your own coffee! In theory. Until a coffee plant grows its beans, it takes a few years (and possibly a greenhouse). Also, you need to hand pollinate the flowers, to make sure they become beans. You might also need several plants to fulfill your excessive need for coffee. So, it’s not an easy task to grow your own coffee. But it’s possible!

Growing a coffee plant

First, get your hands on some green beans. You can buy these at coffee shops that roast their own coffee. Next, you soak the beans in water overnight – around 50 of them, we suggest. Out of the 50 beans, only a few form like a teeny tiny tail after soaking. Those are the ones you can plant in the soil. We want to be honest with you: The chances of growing coffee from seed are very small (but not inexistent). It’s best if you use coffee berries, but good luck finding those.

Once you’re lucky enough and the coffee bean actually started sprouting, it gets even a bit more difficult: Young coffee plants are prone to diseases. They also need a humid environment, so maybe you could invest in a greenhouse…? Anyways, a few years later, you can start harvesting your first berries. Depending on the quality of your soil, the coffee is going to taste.

Roasting your own coffee

Stovetop roasting

We recommend checking out Sweet Maria’s advice for stovetop roasting (and anything coffee related in general) – but here’s how and why we did it. First thing you want to do is opening all your windows and turning on the hood ventilation. If you can measure the temperature inside your pan, that’s ideal. We couldn’t, so we literally baked the pan in the oven until the oven said it’s 200° hot. Maybe that explains, why our beans turned out a bit too dark. Generally, it’s important that you never stop stirring and that you take the beans out of the pan to cool down, once you’ve reached your desired roast. Before preparing the beans and drinking them, make sure that you somehow sieved out the burnt bean skins! Not a method we’d really recommend, but it’s definitely educational and fun.

Popcorn maker

It’s ridiculous to even explain what to do with a popcorn maker, but here we go. If you want to try roasting your own coffee in a popcorn maker, we’d actually recommend this method. Fill in the green beans just as you would the corn kernels. Make sure to catch the bean skins in a bowl, they go where the finished popcorn usually flies. The beans itself stay in the popcorn popper, so make sure to remove them from the source of heat quickly.

Semi-professional roaster

We had the chance to try out the Gene Cafe Roaster, which is a nifty machine for roasting your own coffee. Once you get the hang of how the machine works, you can have a lot of fun with this. There are charts around on the internet, that explain the ideal roasting curve for your beans. So basically, you can adjust temperature over time and you’ll end up with a very even and good roast. The machine even cools down the beans after roasting.

Just remember to let your beans air out for about 72 hours after roasting, they need to release gas. After about a week, the beans take best.

Growing your own coffee – doable?

Would we recommend growing your own coffee? Meh. Not really. It’s definitely possible, but not until you have a lot of time to wait for your first cup of coffee and only if you drink tiny amounts of it. It’s definitely worth trying out, because you really develop a different relationship to your coffee. Roasting your own coffee though: Great experience. Freshes coffee. So much fun. Do it! (Just not on the stovetop.) As an alternative to coffee, as self-sufficient gourmets we’d probably have to switch to herbal teast such as peppermint or verbena.

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