Coffee in the TEOTWAWKI

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DrHenley

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If you're like Bigpaul and can drink instant, then no problem, just stock up on instant coffee and you're good. I quit having the ability to stomach instant coffee decades ago.
Problem with coffee is that once you roast it, the oils start to go rancid after a week or so. Some people (maybe most coffee drinkers) really only know what rancid coffee tastes like because that's all they ever had. But I got to a point that I just didn't want that nasty aftertaste anymore.

OK, if you're still with me and want to drink good coffee when there is no Internet and no coffee shops, there is a solution or two.

The simplest one is to get whole bean coffee, and vacuum pack it, and freeze it. Then once the power goes out, you'll still have a good long while before it goes rancid if it's:
  • Under vacuum
  • Not in the light
  • Not in the heat
But if you want to always have REALLY fresh coffee in the morning, buy green coffee beans and roast your own. At the moment, unroasted coffee is still affordable (but not nearly as cheap as it was a few months ago.)
We're talking ~$7 per pound for good quality single origin beans.

Unroasted coffee has a very long shelf life, even exposed to oxygen. Vacuum packed and kept out of the light and heat, a very very long shelf life. Vacuum packed, kept out of the light and heat and frozen, it has an indefinite shelf life.

To buy the same quality coffee that is already roasted you will pay about 3-4 times as much per pound as unroasted coffee.

If you live near a big city, look up an Ethiopian shop. You see, Ethiopians roast coffee at home THREE TIMES A DAY. They have a ritual for it. And Ethiopian shops sell unroasted coffee pretty cheap (earlier this year it was $4/pound in Arlington VA, but the last time I bought some it was over $5/pound). It's not specialty coffee grade, but it's usually pretty good. I recommend the Yirgacheffe and Harrar varieties if you can find it. Sidamo is pretty good, but I have not had good luck with Kembata unless it's roasted darker than I like.

The Ethiopians pan roast their coffee. So it stands to reason that Ethiopian coffee would be a good choice for pan roasting, and I've found that to be true. I've had problems with pan roasting other coffees, but Yirgacheffe was very easy to pan roast.

Here is a video of me pan roasting some Yirgacheffe at my daughter's house in Arlington when I first started learning to roast coffee. I had the gas stove on medium heat. You will need a way to cool down the beans once you finish. And you need to know that the beans will continue to roast even after you remove them from the heat UNTIL you get the temperature down.
I poured them between two metal colanders in front of a fan (outside) at first until I found a better way.
 

EastenerWesterner

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I have watched them roasting Blue Mountain Coffee in the mountains of Jamaica. Bringing a baggy of it home probably got the bags searched. :)
I do 2 cups a day.
Currently have 4 100ct boxes of kcups for each of us. Some kcups and a single maker in the escape kit. A 2lb unopened Dunkin tub and a drip maker too.
I think I got enough to wean my self off the morning caffeine fix.
 

DrHenley

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Part Deux Hot Air Roasting:
Another popular method of home roasting is with a hot air popcorn popper.
Not all hot air pop corn poppers are suitable however. But a coffee bean supplier called "Sweet Maria's" has experimented with different hot air poppers as a service for their customers who like to use them, and found one particularly well suited.
They even sell it on their web site for $24 and have videos about using it:

 

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Part Three Dedicated Home Roasters:

In the $100-$500 range for dedicated coffee roasters, there are a lot of options now. Home coffee roasting took off because of COVID, not just here but in many countries overseas. Seems like they went nuts over home coffee roasting in Taiwan, and as a result, many companies there started making home coffee roasters.
I would have gone this route except for the fact that the demand for home coffee roasters was so high, most places were perpetually out of stock and I got tired of waiting. Plus, the capacity of most of them was so small, that a batch of coffee would last less than a week, and I wanted to be able to roast once a week, not once every few days.
You can "Google" (but actually using Brave not Google :) ) "home coffee roaster" and find a wide assortment of different devices for home coffee roasting. Most fit into five categories:

Glorified pan roasters (the cheapest)
EpxBWhf.png


Glorified hot air popcorn popper roasters (not quite as cheap)
zaPmZUd.png


Air Fryer type Perforated Drum roasters (a bit more expensive)
gQeMpDV.png

Glass Drum roasters (more expensive)
OkrXtHg.png

Solid Steel Drum roasters (most expensive)
nmANIBC.png
 

DrHenley

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At the risk of sounding like "one of those nutjob alarmists" ;)...

When it comes to coffee, The End Of The World As We Know It may happen this fall...which is only a few months away now. You will know it when you go into the supermarket and the coffee shelves are bare, and Charbucks is only selling chickory coffee and chai. Right now, the fertilizer shortages are not effecting current crops which were fertilized before the shortage. But prices have risen in anticipation of the coming shortage. It is not too late to prep right now.

This may be a one year event, or maybe even just a one growing season event, I don't know, my crystal ball is broken. But I plan on having enough unroasted coffee on hand to get me through at least a couple of growing seasons.

And if the anticipated shortages do not materialize, I won't have to buy coffee for a while. Win Win
 

DrHenley

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Part Four DYI:

I finally decided to just put together a roaster myself.
I started with this off of EvilBay which was only $89 at the time, and used the burner from my turkey fryer which I already had. It is designed to be able to use on a gas stove top, but I prefer to do it outside due to the smoke.
I can roast over a pound and a half at a time, and it actually works best with around a pound and a half to a pound and three quarters. I have settled on 26.66 ounces at a time because that way I can buy five pounds and divide it up into three even batches. I would not recommend doing less than a pound at a time in this roaster unless you are using a stovetop for heat or other comparable burner, more on that later...
Ys9ciB4.png


Here it is on Amazon. It says it has an 8.8 ounce capacity, but that is when you are using on a stovetop with limited heat output. With a strong enough burner, and the right heat management you can do a lot more.
 

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Part Five - Heat management
Kicking it up a notch, I decided to do some heat management. That is, channel the heat so that it is relatively even across the drum instead of having the hotspots from doing it directly on the flames (which results in some charred beans)
So I took an enameled stock pot, and cut a slit across the bottom, and inverted it.

89qvyR8.png
 

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Part Six Temperature Control:

As we'll talk about later, the stages of roasting occur at certain temperatures. You can do it without a temperature gauge, but it requires a lot of trial and error, and consequently a lot of bad batches of coffee.

The drum has a hollow axle, which allows you to insert a temperature probe through it into the drum.
jY9NSf7.png


I went through several different grill thermometers until I found the perfect one:
This dual probe thermometer allows you to switch it to single probe timer mode where one of the lines on the display is a timer and the other is a temperature reading:
N4Fq13v.png

I am still using the probe from one of the earlier thermometers which is bent. And I'm using the shaft from an old aluminum arrow to hold it in place. If this probe wears out, I'll need to make a different support for the probes that came with the thermometer.
bfjJv4z.jpg
 

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If you're like Bigpaul and can drink instant, then no problem, just stock up on instant coffee and you're good. I quit having the ability to stomach instant coffee decades ago.
Problem with coffee is that once you roast it, the oils start to go rancid after a week or so. Some people (maybe most coffee drinkers) really only know what rancid coffee tastes like because that's all they ever had. But I got to a point that I just didn't want that nasty aftertaste anymore.

OK, if you're still with me and want to drink good coffee when there is no Internet and no coffee shops, there is a solution or two.

The simplest one is to get whole bean coffee, and vacuum pack it, and freeze it. Then once the power goes out, you'll still have a good long while before it goes rancid if it's:
  • Under vacuum
  • Not in the light
  • Not in the heat
But if you want to always have REALLY fresh coffee in the morning, buy green coffee beans and roast your own. At the moment, unroasted coffee is still affordable (but not nearly as cheap as it was a few months ago.)
We're talking ~$7 per pound for good quality single origin beans.

Unroasted coffee has a very long shelf life, even exposed to oxygen. Vacuum packed and kept out of the light and heat, a very very long shelf life. Vacuum packed, kept out of the light and heat and frozen, it has an indefinite shelf life.

To buy the same quality coffee that is already roasted you will pay about 3-4 times as much per pound as unroasted coffee.

If you live near a big city, look up an Ethiopian shop. You see, Ethiopians roast coffee at home THREE TIMES A DAY. They have a ritual for it. And Ethiopian shops sell unroasted coffee pretty cheap (earlier this year it was $4/pound in Arlington VA, but the last time I bought some it was over $5/pound). It's not specialty coffee grade, but it's usually pretty good. I recommend the Yirgacheffe and Harrar varieties if you can find it. Sidamo is pretty good, but I have not had good luck with Kembata unless it's roasted darker than I like.

The Ethiopians pan roast their coffee. So it stands to reason that Ethiopian coffee would be a good choice for pan roasting, and I've found that to be true. I've had problems with pan roasting other coffees, but Yirgacheffe was very easy to pan roast.

Here is a video of me pan roasting some Yirgacheffe at my daughter's house in Arlington when I first started learning to roast coffee. I had the gas stove on medium heat. You will need a way to cool down the beans once you finish. And you need to know that the beans will continue to roast even after you remove them from the heat UNTIL you get the temperature down.
I poured them between two metal colanders in front of a fan (outside) at first until I found a better way.


Most excellent! Information you have shared. Don't forget the coffee beans that went down in the stove top.
 

M0del_31

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Switched to decaf. Don’t need near as much anymore. Went from 3 to 1 cup per day. Just does not taste as good.
 

DrHenley

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Part Seven - The stages of roasting

When roasting coffee, you have to go through several stages. The temperatures given are the internal bean temperatures, which is different from the temperature you can measure outside the beans. During the initial states, the external temperature (measured) is higher than the internal bean temperature. Up until around 400°F you are heating the bean, but around that temperature, exothermal reactions are beginning to create heat inside the bean and the internal temperature may exceed the measured external temperature. At this point you begin to hear what is called the "First Crack" which often sounds exactly popcorn popping. The pressures inside the beans break the fibrous structure of the bean and they puff up. The volume of beans inside the roaster begins to increase at this point.
The reason I like to use over a pound and a half of beans in my roaster, is because below that amount, the thermometer probe is not inside the beans but actually just measuring the air temperature inside the drum. Above that amount the probe is buried in beans and the temperature reading is more accurate.

Stage 0: Green Coffee
Green coffee is not always literally green, but sometimes it is. The color depends on how it is processed. It is very hard (may even break your grinder) and usually has an unpleasant odor.
Y9sFMXV.png


Stage 1: Drying phase ~ 320 °F, 160 °C
Green coffee has water in it, and that has to be removed before you can roast the coffee. As this progresses, the coffee beans will turn to a straw color (if they aren't already) and then start to darken. Different smells will come from the beans, hay smell at one point, baked bread at another, etc. This is not in any way shape or form drinkable during this stage.
cfnP2xN.png

When all the water is driven off, some chemical reactions start to take place. Among them, caramelization of sugars, and the Maillard reaction,. but those are only two of hundreds (maybe thousands) of reactions occurring during the roasting.

Stage 2: Cinnamon Roast ~ 385 °F, 196 °C
0S3qnp7.png

This is the light end of light roast coffee. Some coffees are drinkable at this roast level, most coffees are not. At this stage, the First Crack is just beginning. You will usually hear one or two stray POPs before the First Crack is continuous. If you want to try this level, I'd recommend trying Mexican La Laja Honey Process (if you can find it). Or any honey process coffee. Honey process coffee leaves some of the pulp of the coffee cherry in during processing which makes it sweet. It doesn't have any actual honey in it.

Stage 3: City Roast (AKA New England Roast) ~ 400 °F, 205 °C
BULeEw1.png

This is the darker end of light roast coffee. It is mid First Crack, which is not very well defined, so the actual roast level can vary. I'd say a minute to a minute and a half into the First Crack while it is still going strong. There are a number of coffees that are very good at this roast level, but also a number of coffees that are not good at this roast level. Some not even drinkable such as Ethiopian Kembata.

Stage 4: City+ Roast ~ 405 - 410 °F, 207 - 210 °C
nGhH6iC.png

This is the lighter end of Medium Roast. It is at the tail end of the First Crack and you may still be hearing a few stray POPs. Most coffees is good at this level, but most are not at their best yet. Many coffees are beginning to develop full body at this stage. There should be no oil on the beans at City+. Maximum origin characteristics are at this level and you begin to get roast characteristics.

Now we are between the First Crack and the Second Crack. Sometimes the Second Crack can start before the First Crack finishes, especially if you put too much heat on the beans or the heat is not evenly distributed. At best this causes a wide variety of beans at different roast levels. At worst you have some under roasted or charred beans which can really destroy the flavor.

Stage 5 Full City Roast: ~ 410 - 430 °F, 210 - 221 °C
VhTHczs.png

Middle of the Medium Roast spectrum. Because it is defined as "Between First and Second Crack" it is actually a spectrum and not well defined. Somewhere in this spectrum between First and Second Crack is where most coffees will have a "Sweet Spot." Nailing it take a lot of experience. There is usually only a few seconds between the cracks, and a lot of changes are happening to the coffee during this time very quickly. Visually you can tell the difference between City+ and Full City because Full City will have some specks of oil on the surface while City+ will not.
Origin and roast characteristics are usually balanced here.

A few seconds after the end of the First Crack, the Second Crack begins. The First Crack sounds like popcorn popping, but the Second Crack sounds like bacon frying. Now the chemistry of the coffee beans is changing dramatically. The fragrant oils created during the First Crack are evaporated off or pushed out of the beans to the surface where they rapidly oxidize.

Stage 6 Full City+ Roast ~425 - 435 °F, 218 - 224 °C
VhTHczs.png

This stage is just right at the very beginning of the Second Crack, and is at the dark end of Medium Roast. It still looks pretty much the same as Full City, and some just lump it in with Full City. There will be more flecks of oil than at Full City, but not much more. There are some coffees, such as Kenya AA that people say hit a sweet spot right here. The coffee retains a good bit of the origin characteristics, all those lovely aromatic oils that are created in the First Crack, but the roast characteristics are starting to dominate.

Stage 7 Vienna Roast ~ 430 - 440 °F, 221 - 227 °C
H60vWO8.png

This is the middle of the Second Crack and is the light end of Dark Roast. At this point the beans will have a continuous sheen of oil on the surface. To put it bluntly, what is happening here is that all those lovely aromatic oils created in the First Crack are now burning and giving off CO2 and other gaseous oxidation byproducts, the pressure from which is what causes the bean structure to further break down causing the sound of the Second Crack. Which means that most origin characteristics are destroyed and you are left with mostly roast characteristics. There are a few coffees that can get to Vienna Roast and keep some unique flavors, such as Indonesian coffees and Yemen Mocha coffees, but for the most part, all coffees start to taste the same when roasted this dark. Brewed when freshly roasted it tastes dramatically different from when it's been sitting around a few days because those oils that are left are already partially oxidized and will turn rancid quickly, especially the ones on the surface. But that is what a lot of people like.

Stage 8 French Roast ~ 440 - 455 °F, 227 - 235 °C
qnblZ5M.png

French Roast is near the end of the Second Crack, and at this stage it is all roast characteristics and no origin characteristics. There will be a solid visible coating of oil on all the beans. All coffee beans taste the same at this roast level. This should be brewed immediately because it will quickly oxidize and go bad. Or to put it another way, the oils in and on the beans will quickly become like the oil in a deep fryer that has been used too many times. I know that there are a lot of people who seem to like coffee after it has gone bad, but I will never understand it....

Stage 9 Italian/Spanish Roast (AKA Charcoal) - Over 455 °F, 235 °C
jhD46Vo.png

This is after the Second Crack. The Second Crack ends because inside the bean all that is left is the charred remains of the bean structure...literally charcoal.
You have to be very careful, because the beans can catch on fire inside the roaster.
 

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But what about milk/cream for your coffee in a TEOTWAWKI situation?
If you have a cow, great, but milk, especially whole milk just doesn't keep very well and UHT milk only keeps a year and is expensive.
This was a big one for me. My stomach can't take black coffee, and CoffeeMate just doesn't cut it with me. Nonfat dry milk keeps, but in coffee?? 🤮
Dry whole milk doesn't keep very long. I've tried it in coffee and it tastes weird anyhow.
All the milk substitutes were unsatisfactory until recently.
Then I discovered Barista Blend Oat Milk by Califia Farms. And subsequently discovered Extra Creamy Oat Silk. They are good enough and creamy enough that I can almost imagine I have whole milk in my coffee. And they are cardiologist friendly too, LOL.
But they don't keep much longer than milk, so how does that help?
I found out how to make your own. I haven't done it yet, but stay tuned...
 
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I used to roast a lot of my own coffee. You can get some great beans from Sweet Maria's.
I bought this unit....
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You wouldnt think so but coffee roasting stinks to high heaven!!!! It smells like you're roasting fresh grass clippings.
And it's messy as hell!!! You gotta have a shop vac handy to suck up all of the fine skins that come off the beans.
It's really nice to be able to roast your beans just the way you like them,I'm a dark roast kinda guy on most beans but it just doesn't work with some beans.

Also picked up an Espresso machine from Rancilio.
It's the Rancilio Silvia PRO....
It took me awhile to get it down but once you do you can make some seriously strong brew!!!!
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And of course you'll need a proper Burr grinder ....
Also from Rancilio...
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And for a great coffee maker Ya gotta go with a Technivorm.
It makes the best coffee I've ever made or had.

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I have to have my coffee in the morning...instant sucks and not happening for me. That said...I can't get my head around all the instructions provided here for preserving/stocking/preparing for preserving it...All I can say is, I've been stockpiling cans of coffee for a bit now and vacuum sealing the grounds...no rhyme nor reason other than I'm a ding dong and maybe don't care as much about quality and I drink mine straight up black...(gag with milk or other in it)...I've got more dang brands of coffee stockpiled it's ridiculous...I buy whatever is on a "good" sale...might prove to be counter productive but I guess I'll see.. aaarggh! All good info posted here but I guess might just have to shoot me and put me out of my misery if EOWAWKI happens....(I probably got the acronym wrong too) 🙃
 

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But what about milk/cream for your coffee in a TEOTWAWKI situation?
If you have a cow, great, but milk, especially whole milk just doesn't keep very well and UHT milk only keeps a year and is expensive.
This was a big one for me. My stomach can't take black coffee, and CoffeeMate just doesn't cut it with me. Nonfat dry milk keeps, but in coffee?? 🤮
Dry whole milk doesn't keep very long. I've tried it in coffee and it tastes weird anyhow.
All the milk substitutes were unsatisfactory until recently.
Then I discovered Barista Blend Oat Milk by Califia Farms. And subsequently discovered Extra Creamy Oat Silk. They are good enough and creamy enough that I can almost imagine I have whole milk in my coffee. And they are cardiologist friendly too, LOL.
But they don't keep much longer than milk, so how does that help?
I found out how to make your own. I haven't done it yet, but stay tuned...
Baileys Irish Cream!
 
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I have to have my coffee in the morning...instant sucks and not happening for me. That said...I can't get my head around all the instructions provided here for preserving/stocking/preparing for preserving it...All I can say is, I've been stockpiling cans of coffee for a bit now and vacuum sealing the grounds...no rhyme nor reason other than I'm a ding dong and maybe don't care as much about quality and I drink mine straight up black...(gag with milk or other in it)...I've got more dang brands of coffee stockpiled it's ridiculous...I buy whatever is on a "good" sale...might prove to be counter productive but I guess I'll see.. aaarggh! All good info posted here but I guess might just have to shoot me and put me out of my misery if EOWAWKI happens....(I probably got the acronym wrong too) 🙃

Yeah...We have a large stash of canned coffee and over 700 cups of instant,which will do in a pinch.
If nothing else you can use it in trade. I figure there will be some people who would gladly take a cup of instant if they had nothing else.
 

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Yeah...We have a large stash of canned coffee and over 700 cups of instant,which will do in a pinch.
If nothing else you can use it in trade. I figure there will be some people who would gladly take a cup of instant if they had nothing else.
I keep stocking up and stocking up on green beans with the hopes of being able to barter some fresh roasted coffee to coffee connoisseurs who REALLY want some good coffee...but we drink coffee so fast it's hard to stay far enough ahead of our own future needs, not to mention my daughter, son, sisters, brothers in-law and niece that also I roast for.
 

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