What was the most important thing you didn’t learn back in Home Economics?
If you ask me, it’s that coffee comes from a seed of a cherry that is produced by tree. The seed starts out green and if you toast it and brew it just right, you can get a delicious tasting brown beverage that will stir your taste buds and enliven your body.
Although coffee is everywhere the how-to's of it have not been part of our cultural lexicon. You can’t purchase green coffee beans in a grocery store—like one would pecans to make pie. In it's most ubiquitous form, coffee comes ground up in a tin or pod. It lives on indefinitely—without an expiration date.
Of course, if you have been interested in specialty coffee in any capacity you would recognize these collective ideas as falsities. If you are like me, you’d probably want to begin to unravel the mystery of this natural product, as best you could.
My journey to understand more about the bean pointed me toward Los Angeles’ very own Institute of Domestic Technology; A sort of Home Ec. for grown ups. The institute has a schedule of DIY classes including Milk Crafting, Cocktail Crafting, Canning, Coffee Brewing 101 and Home Coffee Roasting.
Under the tutelage of Daniel Kent of Plow & Gun Coffee, the Institute Of Domestic Technology’s Home Coffee Roasting class focuses on simplicity. Green coffee beans plus heat, time, and a Whirley Pop popcorn maker are all you need to roast in the comfort of your own home.
The class begins with a cupping. Daniel teaches us how to taste coffee and to identify flavors so we can understand what to aim for with our stove-top roast. No judgement on a palate preference for dark or lightness. Rather, a focus on understanding degrees of roast and embracing our own taste.
When we start roasting, Daniel points out the basic smells, colors and sounds to look and listen for to achieve our desired result. It’s an experience that [most of] our mothers never taught us, and certainly no You-Tube tutorial, nor hours spent admiring your local shop’s fancy roasting equipment can give. With stove top roasting, you are extremely close to the bean. You get to watch and feel the beans transform in a simple way.
Having taken a few coffee roasting classes prior—most on professional equipment—I can easily say, none were quite as satisfying as this. It is rewarding to approach coffee roasting with a few inexpensive, basic tools. And best of all, to come away with the understanding that coffee roasting is not that difficult or daunting, but it is a skill or craft that requires lots of time and tenacity to develop.
Daniel wrapped up the class by teaching us the basics of how to brew coffee on a french press. As the morning laboratory wound down, we enjoyed a cup of joe and shared stories of what brought us to coffee. All while sampling locally dried fruit, nuts, chocolates, cheeses and fresh goats milk (harvested on site).
If you are interested in expanding your coffee horizons, I highly recommend signing up!
Visit their website: The Insititute of Domestic Technology