RIY With Mr. Green Beans

Sometimes I wonder, if I’d been in Keanu’s shoes in The Matrix, if I would have gulped the redpill and jumped down Morpheus’ rabbit hole, or if I would have eschewed the black trench coat and straight razor-wielding silver twins and continued on in blissful bluepill ignorance.

mrgbextAfter taking green bean enthusiast Trevin Miller’s highly informative Intro to Home Coffee Roasting class at Mr. Green Beans–the N. Mississippi shop he co-owns with wife Ginny Miller–I think I might have inadvertently taken the coffee roasting redpill. Because one day, you’re enjoying a monotonous but comfortable morning routine of shelling out $1.50-$4 for your cup of morning coffee, and the next, you realize that for a mere pittance of the price, with a sense of adventure and possibly a bit of burn salve, you can be The One–The Roast-It-Yourselfer. If only the Oracle had told you this sooner, you might not have laughed in the face of the Latte Factor and squandered your retirement/yacht fund on joe. And now, you have a choice to make:

RIY Redpill *********  Bluepill

wokpopperroasterLast Sunday morning, we circled ’round a table in Mr. Green Beans’ cozy loft, observing a tidy lineup of a wok, two kinds of popcorn poppers, and an electric coffee roaster, and wondering if we were going to play “which of these doesn’t belong?” Instead, for the next hour, Trevin expertly explained the basic tenets of roasting your own coffee beans, which happens to be really, really, mind-blowingly easy.

On our individual tables were five packets of beans in various stages of roasting, which give you a sense of how far a little green bean has to come to be the fat, luxuriously glossy coffee bean of yore. We also had a jar of freshly roasted beans for sniffing, and a neatly wrapped package of green beans to take home and practice our newfound skills on.

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Also on hand were both green beans and peaberries–tiny oval freaks of coffee nature that make a fine brew, but need to roast with their own kind for uniformity reasons, and are thus sold separately from their more developed kin.

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Peaberries: The runts of the coffee bean litter

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We were instructed in the easiest way to self-roast with minimal investment (the wok, or your favorite frying pan), Trevin’s favored way to roast (with a circa-1980s Poppery popcorn popper), and the priciest but most efficient way to roast–an electric coffee roaster. Watching the beans transform from sad little green things to the shiny dark-roasted coffee beans we all know was fascinating. Trevor explained the science of this change, the art of hearing Cracks One and Cracks Two, the nuances of achieving a light roast verses a deep dark roast (if your household’s preferences vary, this may mean roasting multiple batches), the importance of cooling your beans fast, the best way to rest and store your beans, and all the ways to brew your freshly-roasted coffee.

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When the class concluded, everyone trooped downstairs into the lovely little shop below, to sniff the bins of green beans and covet the roasting paraphernalia, a gleam in the newly-enlightened’s eyes as we contemplated this consuming new hobby.

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I haven’t yet jumped headlong into home roasting, partly because I have the sneaking suspicion that I’ll get far too obsessed by it, and partly because I’m embroiled in a very tense eBay bidding war for a Poppery. Should you like to experience the magic of self-roasting for yourself, Mr. Green Beans offers a regular schedule of classes throughout the month. But just remember, you’re heading into redpill territory.