Espresso: How the perfect shot is achieved.

Hello!

My name is Casey, the newest addition to Black River Roasters as your barista. I spent some time at the shop the other day dialing-in the La Marzocco Linea PB espresso machine and the shots are looking (and tasting) wonderful! The process of fine-tuning everything that goes into producing consistently good espresso shots involves a lot of trial-and-error. The miniature cup on the saucer may seem like it holds nothing more than a few drops of small coffee but the making of a traditional espresso is more complex than it’s appearance.

Producing a well-balanced and palatable espresso shot means tweaking and working with numerous variables that include temperature, volume, measurement, and technique. Bringing these to work in tandem with each other will produce a rich and intense treat that is savored on its own or used in a bevy of drink recipes like lattes, cappuccinos, flat whites, etc. One has to take into account these factors when pulling a shot:

  1. The amount of ground espresso
  2. The grind quality of the espresso
  3. Pressure at which espresso is compacted, or ‘tamped’
  4. The temperature and pressure of the water ejected from the espresso machine

 

It is when the sweet spot of these factors is found that a symbiotic union is created and a good espresso shot is born. The extraction should take anywhere from 26-35 seconds. Baristas strive to keep espresso shots around the 30 second mark but time should not be the only determinant for a balanced espresso shot. External conditions like the weather and air quality within the cafe can affect coffee beans so these factors are constantly monitored and adjusted.

The extraction of a single espresso

The extraction of a single espresso

Espresso is ground directly into a steel basket inside what is called the portafilter. The portafilter hosts steel baskets, which vary in size, to dictate the dosage for a single, double, or even triple shot of espresso. Single and double dose baskets are the most common since the barista can still produce a triple shot by combining them. Once the correct dose of ground espresso is in the basket, the barista will tamp the grinds with a tamper, a metal tool that fits into the basket to compress the espresso. Tamping espresso with the perfect grind feels cushiony. Think of the air that sits between every grain being pushed out, leaving a solid brick of espresso. That is exactly what tamping does; tamping with the right amount of pressure is crucial as tamping lightly will make for a fast extraction while tamping too hard will prove the opposite. Once the grounds are tamped, the barista will flush the grouphead (where the water is ejected), lock-in the portafilter, and press the appropriate water dosing button. What follows is the flow of espresso into the demitasse and voila! The fruits of your labor are present and it smells like heaven.

 

When enjoying espresso, one should take into consideration the joy of the crema. Crema is a layer containing the oils of the coffee. The inviting and aromatic crema is an attribute of a well-prepared espresso and its absence indicates an unbalanced shot (most likely one where too much grind was used, thus trapping the water and not allowing the grind to extract evenly).

The final product: latte

The final product: latte!

Espresso pulls sweet and savory for the first half of extraction and is rounded off by the waters and oils left in the portafilter basket. Some drinkers prefer their shots to be pulled shorter so as to eliminate the bitters of the residual oils and have a sweeter product. The same amount of espresso is used but the barista will stop the water short, producing a smaller but equally as delicious espresso. This is called a ‘ristretto’.

Visually, espresso looks best dressed in clear glass demitasses. My favorite part of pulling shots in clear glass is the fantastic visual created when the oil and water start to separate and cascade into each other. I will sometimes top my espresso with foamed milk (known as the espresso macchiato) or throw it into iced water for an iced americano. There is no wrong way to enjoy your espresso. The only thing one can do wrong is to not enjoy it at all!

 

See you at the bar this May-

 Casey 

Perfect Cup? You Bet!

This is a sort of challenge I’m proposing for ourselves, and once we’re open, we need to know what you have to say; can Black River Roasters make a perfect cup of coffee?

A lot of coffee out there is strong.  perc ad

Like, super strong. In the US we have a history of percolating and boiling coffee, methods which lead to a robust, bitter brew, its brash aroma alone enough to stir the dead.

Tastes have moved from oppressive percolation to more tame drip filtering, though commercially-brewed coffee is still strong due to a very high coffee-to-water ratio. Dunkin’ Donuts recommends 3 levels of bold – spoon, shovel, and dump. And when I can barely peel myself out of bed in the morning, a hefty pile of grounds dumped in my brewer does the trick. Never the worst thing I’ve drunk, but certainly never the best. A very strong flavor is otherwise due to the use of robusta beans in blends, which have twice the caffeine as arabica beans as well as fewer acids, lots of bitterness, and a flavor that can roast up rather dirty.

SCAA_brew_chart

What we’re looking for is balance – the range where enough flavor compounds have been extracted and are preserved to present a bright, satisfying combination of aroma, flavor, and body. And if you can find all the below flavors, why not look for them?!

flavor-wheel

We’re in control of those last two steps, roasting and brewing. When coffee beans are roasted, sugars caramelize, proteins break down, and oils are precipitated. Just as a burnt cake doesn’t taste so good, burnt beans won’t taste good either. We want that sucrose to linger and contribute sweetness to the finished coffee. At Black River Roasters we generally roast on the light side, which caramelizes sugars without incinerating them, and doesn’t bake off the residual cherry sugars and spicy notes that enliven the beans.

Oil is the other crucial point. The oils in coffee go rancid just as any other oil. To understand the detriment of oily beans that were roasted a long time ago, open up a bag of conventionally-produced French roast and take in a big, fishy whiff of spoiled caffeol. Yummy! At Black River Roasters you’ll never encounter this problem since we roast to order. When you get your beans as soon as they’ve been roasted, you’ll taste freshly activated flavor components.

I’m excited about our espresso machine, but since I prefer brewed coffee, I’m even more excited about our Trifecta. With the Trifecta, we can exactly regulate all aspects of coffee brewing, accessing the full flavor range, one serving at a time.

DSC04540Turbulence is what revolutionizes this system because it allows for completely even extraction. By fully wetting and evenly brewing all grounds in the chamber, from each particle we end up with an essentially consistent volume of oils, sugars, and dissolved solids in the cup. And by altering the time and power of each cycle part, we can play up acidity, flavor, and body as appropriate to any of our coffees!

In my first trial I tested an Organic Rwanda, Sulawesi (both coming soon), and our Organic Peru. 18 grams of coffee each, 8 ounces of water each, and 3 completely different tasting cups! A full pre-wet, long brew time, and medium turbulence brought out the Rwanda’s floral aroma and blueberry syrupiness, backed by a gentle Dutch cocoa (I cheated and added a little sugar to end up with blueberry cobbler-in-a-cup). Sulawesi was appropriately peppery with a grassy, coriander aroma and flavor, but shorter brewing with more turbulence filled out the dried cranberry body without stirring up too much bitterness. And in the Peru, short, quick everything pushes the lemony acid right to the the front and keeps the finish clean with just a hint of dark chocolate on the end to solidify its brightness.

I’m excited, and I can’t wait ’til you stop in and try a Trifecta-brewed coffee for yourselves! I wager that we won’t let you down.

See you at the bar,

Ryan

Why Certify?

We make a point of selling not just coffee, but USDA Organic, Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance, and Bird Friendly-Certified coffees. So what does it matter, or are we frivolously jumping on that green marketing machine?

Coffee is the world’s second-largest traded commodity, but is produced in some of the poorest places in the world. We’re a part of that $18 billion industry, and we’re on the fortunate end.

Ashley has already shared some of the claims that coffee companies will make about their products, and how at Black River Roasters we will always work to source the best quality beans. This quality comes through not just in how our coffee tastes, but also in how it affects the planet and the people who grow it. Read on below and you’ll see why we certify – because without a healthy planet and healthy farmers we have no coffee to sell!

__________

ORGANIC  USDA Organic Seal

The organic process extends all the way to roasting. As one of the few certified organic coffee roasters in the state, we stand to make sure that flavoring agents and other extraneous chemicals don’t make it into your cup. Our Organic Mexico Decaf is a Mountain Water Process coffee, employing essentially a water filtration system, rather than industrial solvents, to remove caffeine. And all organic products touch organic-only surfaces.

Yet if it turns out that there’s no reason to worry about chemicals in coffee since the cherry is removed in processing, and even if roasting and brewing the coffee doesn’t leave detectable levels of agricultural chemicals…

it doesn’t matter!Monsanto pesticide to be sprayed on food crops.

Because what we do know is that the farmers who raise and harvest our beans aren’t being exposed to pesticides and herbicides that are toxins, nerve agents, and carcinogens! Without our farmers we’d have no business, and all farmers deserve to raise our planet’s food without putting themselves in danger. An organic certification is the one way to be certain that chemicals – harmful on our end at consumption and on the farmers’ end as they work with them – stay out of the soil and off the plants. We prefer to maintain that integrity and skip the chemicals altogether.

FAIRTRADE

Regarding coffee, Fairtrade International puts farmers directly in contact with importers. By having a direct line of sale, farmers don’t need to worry about being taken advantage of by middlemen who will pay farmers a fraction of what they’re owed.

Coffee is a traded commodity so its price fluctuates, at times drastically. Fairtrade guarantees a minimum price to be paid for coffee, but when market prices exceed the minimum, they champion paying market prices.  And producers are incentivized to grow organically and to invest money back into their communities!

There’s no consensus on the effectiveness of Fairtrade. The additional expense for these certified products applies to all points of production – retailers, roasters, importers, exporters, farmers. So although the extra money earned isn’t paid directly back to growers, they earn more money by growing certifiable beans. And although the organization itself says that market prices should be paid, a minimum guarantee that’s lower than market seems better than being at the mercy of the market. That’s why we source Fairtrade products.

031607_RevisedSeals_WiPRAINFOREST ALLIANCE

Simply put, since coffee trees inhabit the same parts of the globe as tropical rainforests, rainforests have been cleared to make way for coffee plantations.

http://www.ecuador-wonders.com/images/Plantation1.jpg

A clear-cut coffee plantation

Because no effort must be made to preserve the landscape, clear-cut coffee plantations are most common, and the system that most conventional growers use.

By comparison, Rainforest Alliance maintains a list of rigorous standards which are designed to preserve the spectacular biodiversity of tropical rainforests. Farmers are required to intercrop so that their farms mimic the arrangement of the forest around them. In the process, agricultural pests are more easily deterred when not allowed to spread freely across a monocropped plantation.

Shade_grown_coffee_in_Guatemala

A coffee plantation seemingly a virgin forest

(The conundrum is that coffee plants don’t tolerate full equatorial sun very well. They’re shorter trees that are native to the tropics and so are adapted to growing in the long days and dappled shade of rainforests.)

Deforestation in the Coffee Belt is still an issue. Brazil is the world’s largest exporter of coffee, and since 1970 has lost the area of something like 33 New Jerseys, or one Texas, to deforestation! And while Brazil has seen a general decrease in deforestation over the past several years, Indonesia is seeing an increase. So when looking for products from the tropics, it’s important to purchase those which have been conscientiously produced.

migration_map.jpgBIRD FRIENDLY     BFLogo300dpi

With tropical deforestation comes the loss of habitat, for all sorts of creatures including migratory birds from the northern and southern hemispheres which overwinter in the tropics (not to mention native species). The Smithsonian Institute essentially requires the coffee to be Rainforest Alliance and USDA Organic certifiable. If you purchase a Bird Friendly coffee, it’s been grown with the utmost concern for environmental integrity.

__________

Since we care about what we do, we care about the people and the world that makes what we do possible. We certify because we will always do our best.

See you at the bar,

Ryan

Exciting Times at Black River Roasters

Hey, everybody! It’s Ryan, a recent addition to the Black River team, just in time for big news:

OUR CAFÉ IS ALMOST OPEN! A few months and we’ve gone from a cramped old showroom to a nearly built-out coffee shop.

IMG_0669 (2)IMG_0667 (2)IMG_0770 (2)

DSC04492Our goal all along has been to provide amazing-tasting, high-quality, positively-impacting coffee. We’ve been roasting it, tasting it ourselves, and selling it by the pound…and now you can taste it by the cup.

Hot and iced, we’re working to offer the best drink experience possible. This means going beyond drip-filtered coffee – which we’ll be brewing as proudly as ever! – and employing a range of brewing methods to highlight the unique flavors in each of our coffees.

Depending on how a coffee cherry is grown, processed, stored, and roasted, it develops flavors that range drastically outside of bitter, acidic, and strong. Now, those three aspects are part-and-parcel to coffee, but not all there is. Since we roast to highlight more subtle flavors, we plan to brew our coffee so you can taste them.

Our Bunn Trifecta allows close control over water, time, and turbulence during brewing, so that we can target certain flavors unique to any one of our coffees, one serving at a time. Even more exacting than a Clover® brewed coffee.

Our cold-brewed iced coffee is a super-caffeinated, low-to-no bitter cup since it’s prepared over several hours without heat. Think Guinness tastes like coffee? How about coffee that drinks like a Guinness?! You have to stop in to try this out.

DSC04493

DSC04494

 

And don’t forget about our La Marzocco Linea PB espresso machine! Our model, with its manual operation, allows us total control over the shot, which means an espresso that is impressively complex.

 

We’ve been roasting in our spot along Route 22 as well, so stop in to see roasting in action. Once we’re fully up and running we’ll hold cuppings for you guys to taste our freshly roasted coffees, the same way we do as we prepare them.

DSC04495

Plus, we’re partnering with Bex Kitchen in Califon, NJ to offer some absolutely delicious breakfast and lunch foods, all freshly prepared with healthy, local ingredients. We’ll be working with Arbor Teas out of Ann Arbor, Michigan, to provide a range of USDA Organic and Fair Trade Certified loose-leaf teas. And again, I can guarantee they taste great.

Keep in mind that we’re still looking for a barista (or two), so if you have coffee or food service experience, send your resume to info@blackriverroasters.com!

See you at the bar,
Ryan

Can Coffee Burn Fat?

Can you believe that it is already March?!  I know I cannot!  Summer is quickly coming and it is time to get ready for bathing suit season!

Previously, I have written about how green coffee bean extract can help you lose weight fast and recent studies have shown that caffeine in general can help you shed some pounds as well.

Caffeine is the most commonly consumed psychoactive substance in the world.  It can be found in most commercial fat burning substances and for a good reason.  It is one of the few substances that is known to help mobilize fats from the fat tissues and increase metabolism.  Time for another cup…

Caffeine helps mobilize fat from fat tissues  by stimulating the nervous system, which sends direct signals to the fat cells to tell them to break down fat.  Additionally, caffeine increases the blood levels of the hormone epinephrine, also known as adrenaline.  Epinephrine travels through the blood to the fat tissues and sends signals to break down fats and release them into the blood as free fatty acids.  Your body will breakdown your fat stores and convert them into energy.  This process is known as lipolysis.

Resting Metabolic Rate is how many calories we burn at rest.  The higher our metabolic rate, the easier it is for us to lose weight.  Studies have shown that caffeine can increase the metabolic rate by 3-11% with larger doses having an even bigger impact. However, these results are less pronounced in obese people and diminish with age.

For example, one study showed that the increase in fat burning in a leaner person was as high as 29%, whereas in an obese individual the increase was about 10%.

In order to get the best results you should drink your coffee black.

One major downfall to coffee is that people become tolerant to the effects of caffeine, which means at first the caffeine will increase the metabolic rate and increase fat burning, but over time people will become tolerant to its’ effects and it will eventually stop working.

Everyone is different, therefore, the way one person’s body responds to caffeine, may not be true for another individual.  But it is nice to think that my coffee addiction may result in weight loss.

Ashley

 

Is Camel Milk the Newest Trend to Add to Coffee?

Camelccinos and Camelattes might be on the rise in the UK.  Could this trend make it over to the US?

However, this is not the first time that camel milk has been used in coffee.  On August 14, 2013, NY Daily News wrote about how Costa Coffee shops across the United Arab Emirates were now offering camel milk instead of cow’s milk in their drinks.

Costa Coffee is a British brand that has become the first international coffee shop chain to offer camel milk as an alternative to cow’s milk.  This new feature points to the increasing acceptance and revival of a traditional Bedouin staple, which had been gradually displaced by the popularity of Western cow’s milk.

The first thing I ask myself when I hear this is what does it taste like?  Camelicious describes camel milk as having a clean, healthy, palatable taste.  It is not too different from semi-skimmed cow milk.  In blind tastings, people are often surprised to find they have been sampling camel milk as they expect it to have a stronger taste.

“A few people have said it goes well with a mocha – the savory thing works well with the caramel thing,” says Richard Ford, a food journalist with The Grocer magazine, who had the idea of bringing the milk to two branches of coffee chain Taylor Street Baristas, in Brighton and London’s Bank area, in aid of Farm Africa.  Ford is running the Brighton marathon to raise funds for the development charity and wanted an eye-catching way to draw attention to his efforts.

Camelccinos in Dubai!

According to the Chow, camel milk has many benefits.  First off, it is the closest milk to human mother’s milk, which means our bodies not only tolerate it well, but also thrive on it.  Camel milk has triple the amount of vitamin C found in cow’s milk.  It has ten times the amount of antibacterial and antiviral properties found in cow’s milk.  Additionally, camel milk contains an insulin like protein that survives in the digestive tract that may benefit people with certain forms of diabetes.

Now where do I find myself some camel milk to put in my coffee?!

Ashley

 

Does Coffee Really Dehydrate You?

Over the years, I have always heard that coffee dehydrates you and that it is bad for you.  However, with new research, more and more studies are finding that coffee is very beneficial to one’s health.

Contrary to popular belief, coffee does not dehydrate you at all, instead it does the opposite according to a new study released on January 9, 2014.

Researchers from Birmingham University School of Sport and Exercise Sciences took 50 healthy men and had half of them drink 4 mugs of black coffee for three consecutive days while the other half drank the same amount of water, and then they switched.

“Caffeine really had absolutely no influence on hydration status,” concludes Douglas Case of the University of Connecticut, a researcher that reviewed the paper.

“It’s well understood that if you drink coffee habitually you can develop a tolerance to the potential diuretic effects of coffee,” says study author Sophie Killer, a doctoral researcher at Birmingham.

Prior research has already chipped away at the dehydrating myth.  For instance, one study found that caffeine didn’t hinder hydration among athletes who consumed caffeinated beverages to rehydrate throughout practices in the heat.

Additionally, during exercise, caffeine is beneficial for endurance performance.  Moderate coffee consumption actually contributes to our daily fluid requirements and does not lead to dehydration.

The mild, short-term diuretic effect of caffeine is not strong enough to counter-balance the benefits of fluid intake from coffee drinking.

After all, coffee is made up of 95% water.

Drink up and enjoy a cup of coffee today!

Ashley

To read more about the study go here

Get to Know Our Organic Guatemala!

Our Guatemala is from the region of Huehuetenango (pronounced “way-way-ten-ango”).  It has a light to medium body with fairly bright acidity and a nutty, pecan finish.  You might find a hint of peppery spice and orange peel fruitiness as well.

ASOBAGRI was founded in 1989 by 20 K’Anjob’Al Mayan coffee and cardamom farmers, with the intention of improving the social and economic conditions of all farmers.  A period of political violence and financial destitution followed, during which many small farmers abandoned their land.

Since then, however, ASOBAGRI has grown and now counts on more than 1107 members, all growing organic coffee, and over 200 more in transition to organic cultivation.

The cooperative is incredibly diverse representing 67 different Mayan communities.  Of the 1107 active members growing organic coffee, about 95 are women who produce and process their own.

Cooperative members grow high-quality, shade-grown coffee using organic compost.  The coffee is shade-grown under banana, guava and plantain trees, and intercropped with banana, cardamom and citrus plants.  Since Fair Trade Certification in 1999, ASOBAGRI has enjoyed significantly higher revenues.  They are now certified Organic, Cafe Feminino and Bird Friendly.

Huehuetenango is one of the best regions in the entire country for growing coffee.  The coffee is grown on small farms in volcanic soil, which gives it a lively acidity.  ASOBAGRI conducts soil examinations to analyze acidity and fertility levels to help determine the most effective and sustainable production method for individual farms.

ASOBAGRI has used revenue from Fair Trade sales to promote literacy, diversify crops and income, support sustainable agriculture, invest in quality control and support healthcare.

Approximately 100 students from four communities participate in reading and writing workshops.  ASOBAGRI trains agricultural promotors, who teach farmers about organic production methods, such as creating compost from coffee cherry waste.  A new warehouse was recently constructed for coffee storage.  The cooperative educates farmers on milling, drying, and sorting according to quality guidelines.  ASOBAGRI has created a healthcare program that assists member families in covering emergency medical costs.

Tomas Mateo, an ASOBAGRI member, said, “A tree fell on my house and it was destroyed completely.  ASOBAGRI helped me rebuild my house with $257.  This type of support motivates us to keep working hard in coffee.  Here in Barilles, this is the only organization that can support us with these kinds of programs.”

ASOBAGRI also has a program called “Cafe con Manos de Mujer,” which helps women landowners generate incomes independently of their husbands.

Support ASOBAGRI by buying a bag of our Organic Guatemala today!

Ashley

 

Thanks to Fair Trade USA for their information on the farm:

http://www.fairtradeusa.org/producer-profiles/asobagri-asociaci-n-barillense-de-agricultores

And Royal Coffee for additional information as well:

http://www.royalcoffee.com/images/infosheets/Guatemala%20ASOBAGRI.pdf

Holiday Coffee Drinks

Want to save some money this holiday season?  Instead of going out and buying an eggnog latte or gingerbread latte, make these delicious recipes at home!

Gingerbread Latte

Ingredients

  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp molasses
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp Black River Roasters coffee
  • 1 cup milk
  • sweetener to taste

Directions

Mix everything together in a small pot or mug.  Then heat until desired temperature is reached.  Wow it is that simple!

Thanks Chocolate Covered Katie for this recipe!

Skinny Eggnog Latte 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup lite eggnog
  • 1/4 cup non-fat milk
  • 1/2 tsp stevia or 1 tbsp sugar (to taste)
  • 1/4 cup Black River Roasters coffee
  • sprinkle nutmeg

Directions

  1. Brew coffee/espresso and place in mug
  2. In a small pan, add eggnog, milk and sugar.  Whisk together until heated and frothy, about 2-3 minutes.  Pour into mug with coffee.
  3. Garnish with nutmeg or whip cream
  4. For a cocktail add 1/2 shot of rum

Thanks Jennifer from Peanut Butter and Peppers for this yummy cocktail optional drink!

Salted Caramel Mocha

Ingredients

For drink:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup Black River Roasters coffee
  • 1 tbsp cocoa
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp caramel sauce

For topping:

  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp sugar
  • whipped cream
  • caramel sauce

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat milk over low heat until very hot.  Remove from heat and froth milk with a frothed, whisk or immersion blender.  Or pour into a Mason Jar, screw on lid and shake until frothy.
  2. While the milk is heating, whisk together the coffee, cocoa, sugar and caramel sauce. Split the coffee mixture between two mugs.
  3. Pour the hot milk and foam into the coffee, dividing evenly between the two mugs.
  4. For the topping, mix together salt and sugar.  Top each mug with whipped cream, a drizzle of caramel sauce and a hefty sprinting of the salt and sugar mixture.

Thanks Cassie from Back to Her Roots for this sweet and salty coffee drink!

 

Cheers and happy holidays!

Ashley

How to Brew Coffee 17th Century Style

Ever wonder how people roasted and brewed coffee after it was first discovered?  It is definitely a little different than how we do it today.

India Mandelkern, food historian at the University of California, Berkeley, wrote this article for the Huffington Post and I wanted to pass it along to all of you.  She writes about how coffee was perceived in the 17th century and how “coffee promised its drinkers the best of both worlds; you got the fun of the tavern without the awful hangover the next day.”  Seems to be the same nowadays too.

Europeans praised coffee’s ability to enhance memory and mood, suppress appetite, and increase awareness.  Like always there were some that complained about the insomnia and others were worried about the potential sexual side effects, but for the most part Europeans loved the buzz they got from drinking this caffeine elixir.

The buzz was great, but the taste was a different story.  Mandelkern points out that contemporaries described coffee as a “syrup of soot” and an “essence of boiled shoes” that “smelled like old crusts and leather” with a mouth-feel similar to “puddle water.”

Mandelkern breaks it down into four easy steps so we can all make coffee 17th century style, which I have copied from her article and put below.  She even made it herself!

1. Find some beans.  Until the first European coffee plantation was established in Java around 1700 AD, the entire world’s coffee beans were grown in Ethiopia and southern Yemen.

2. Roast your beans over a fire.  After the arduous journey from the Arabian city of Mocha – center of the early modern international coffee wholesale market – to Europe, it was time to roast those beans.  This was done the old fashioned way: in a frying pan or skillet over a fire.  Now, this sounds easier than it actually is.  Once you get your fire going, briskly stir your beans in the skillet until you hear them begin to “crack,” sort of like popcorn.  But keep those babies moving, the whole process happens in a matter of minutes and it’s frighteningly easy to unevenly roast them. (Mandelkern admits she burned her first batch and she had better success when she used the stove)

3.  Grind and boil your coffee beans.  Once the beans were roasted, they were ground in a mortar, strained in a sieve, and then boiled for about 15 minutes.  There was no such thing as a 17th century espresso; that wouldn’t be available for another two hundred years.  The finished product was a lot closer to thick, unfiltered Turkish coffee.  And the potency?  That’s hard to tell.  Historians estimate that the typical 17th century cup of coffee was made using one or two ounces of coffee to three or four cups of water.  Compare that to the single drip we enjoy today, which uses about one ounce of coffee to 1 and 1/2 cups of water.

4.  Drink you coffee.  At last, drink your coffee in a small, shallow “dish” – the handles evolved a little bit later.  Mandelkern observes that her coffee tasted a little smoky and burned, and the texture was decidedly muddier than the stuff she was used to.

Thanks to India Mandelkern for her great article.  Let’s all experiment and try preparing coffee 17th century style next time we need a little pick-me-up.

Ashley