Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Fresh Roast try #2

So I tried the Fresh Roast again with only 45gms of coffee, with the premise that a smaller batch size will mean a longer roast time. The fan still felt a little anemic to me, but at least moved the beans a little better. My standard resting rate did not prolong the roast time to what I could do before on the old roaster, so I will definitely notify Fresh Roast.

I wish it wasn't so hot out here so I could use the poppery II. Lately, when the sun sets it's still around 80 degrees out. Waking up early is out of the question since I'm so used to staying up to at least 1am, usually 2am.

On a happier note, my 10lbs of Ethiopian coffee came in the other day, and my 45gm roast was the Sidamo. I'm already looking forward to it and its starting to smell great already. I need to stop opening up the containers to smell them, but I just can't help myself.

My knitting is at a stand still too. I'm supposed to finish this sweater from hell and I feel guilty if I work on anything else. However, the yarn is very old and squeaks, so I really hate working on it. I only have a little sewing and two bands to do, so I should just suck it up. I'm never, ever, taking in a repair again. I really would like to work on the Flower Basket Shawl.

Hubby is in Japan right now on business and he's picking up beading books and a knitting book for me. I'm really excited. The Japanese patterns are so great and the charts makes things so easy. The materials are a little harder to interpret but using a little common sense and educational guesses I've been ok so far. If all else fails though, my brother is dating this great Japanese woman that can translate. My brother is awesome, he is reliable and is always there to help when needed.

My little 3-d chihuahua is done except for some ends to weave in. I won't be able to take a picture since the camera is with my husband.
Cover of Japanese dog book
The chihuahua is on the cover. I made mine with light colorado topaz. I'm hoping that is the right color for her dog.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Stand Still

I'm at a coffee stand still and I'm a little upset, but I'll get over it. Fresh Roast must have sent an entirely new base unit in the mail to me because my roasting chamber does not fit into this base the way it did into the one I sent back. I did one roast I think on Wednesday and it was already at 1st crack in less than 2 minutes and the entire roast was done in less then 5 minutes. I noticed the fan was not strong at all. Using the Sweet Maria's tip sheet, I made the fan stronger. Tried another roast today, and again, even with tipping, my 65 gms of green beans did not want to move. I ended up manually stirring them for the first minute or so, and by that point they were ok, but chaff was all over the place. Did my usual stopping the roast for 30 seconds every 2 minutes or so for the first 6 minutes, but again, the roast was very rapid and I had to pull the entire roast at 7 minutes. Prior to this I would stop my roasts from anywhere from 9 minutes to 11 minutes. Now I have to start the whole process over and possibly make more modifications, most likely in batch size. That, or send the whole roaster back again. My fan could have died before because it was too strong, but at the same time it was perfect for my needs, in terms of quantity and timing. I was just getting comfortable with the timing of the roaster.

In the mean time, I picked up a West Bend Poppery II at a thrift store in my search for a cheap convection oven top to make a SC/CO. I turned the popper on, and the fan worked well but it didn't seem to generate much heat. Opened up the bottom and the wire to the main heating element is disconnected. I'll probably solder the wire to where it should be in the next day or two and try this set up verses the Fresh Roast next roast day if its cool enough.

My Ethiopian Sidamo and Harrar are also not here yet, they are somewhere either in the USPS system or possibly was a miscommunication and was not sent yet. I was really looking forward to that too :(

So all in all a bad coffee day.

On a better note, I'm making a 3-D crystal chihuahua for a friend who works at the bead shop I go to. She had a pretty bad stroke a couple months back and I've been meaning to make this since she fell ill. Hopefully I'll have it done by my class at the bead shop on Friday. I'm so excited because I haven't taken a bead class yet at this shop, and I finally jumped in. I'm taking a beginning glass fusing class. I'll definitely take pictures.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

I am a hamster


My last post I mentioned I might have hoarding tendencies, well it isn't might anymore, I am officially a hoarding hamster. Specifically dry processed African coffees. I just purchased 10lbs of dry processed African, half Sidamo, half Harrar. Yum!

I won't be afraid to roast my African coffees now that I have enough. My husband used to tease me because when I would eat sushi, I would eat in order from my least favorite to my favorite if I ordered a set sushi dinner. By the time I got to the last piece that I was salivating over, I would not enjoy it as much because I was already full. I think I'm doing the same with coffee, roasting and drinking the coffees I like, but don't love first, and even though I have more of my favorites, I'm afraid to roast them. I just don't want to run out. However, with this new order, I'll be able to roast with no fear.. hopefully!

In the mean time, roasting is on hold. My fresh roast fan decided to die mid-roast of a Colombian coffee, thank goodness it wasn't the Aged Sumatra that was due to go next. The roast was ruined even though I tried to pan roast the rest, the bottom beans were already burned, and I was too panicked while doing the pan roast that it was just awful.

However it was a blessing in disguise. I went to the coffeegeek forums and looked up some local roasting companies to buy roasted beans from while I wait for the fresh roast to get fixed (under warranty). I went to Jones Coffee in Pasadena and was pleasantly surprised and really excited at their shop. The owner was so sweet to me, even though I was nervous and shaky. It was just such a cool space and you could see the roaster and green beans behind the counter, and it made me so excited that I didn't know what to say. I picked up some Sumatra and am drinking it right now. Very tasty, and they sell green beans too! A local source of green beans is always welcome and I read their story on-line and they really are an asset to the coffee community.

I also read on-line that there are a lot of great coffee place in our area. We hit Coffee Klatch in San Dimas on our way to meet friends in Rancho Cucamonga. Yummy espresso and also a great space. My husband liked the space so much he wants to just go there to hang out.

On the knitting front, I have no right to start a new project, but I started the Flower Basket Shawl. My coworker is already well into the second repeat, and it looks great. I'm playing with the double decrease, whether to do a centered double decrease or the right slanting as specified in the pattern. I think I'm going to do what is in the pattern, because it might turn into a class. If it does, I really should stick to the pattern. I'm doing it in color 514 which is a combination of mostly greens and a little yellow. Not sure if I'll wear it, but it's a fun knit and will look great displayed at the shop. I also have to get my beaded purse written up for the store. So many things to do, and all I want to do is surf the web about coffee!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Obsessing over coffee

Posting has slowed down, I think I'm obsessing over coffee lately and the blog is getting a little skewed, I had hoped to balance things out, but the coffee has become really important. I'm up to 15 batches in my Fresh Roast, and I'm pondering what will go in today. I'm a little bummed that I didn't jump fast enough on some Harrar on one of the coops, but at the rate of my consumption, it's probably a good thing. I guess these things will come up from time to time. I'm surprised though at how fast Sweet Maria's sells out of beans, and my hoarding tendencies are getting a little nervous.

I've not had the best coffee education in the past, and I thought I was not an African coffee fan. However, my first sip of Ethiopian Harrar was a wow moment, and I'm starting to rethink the whole African bean phobia. I just did not like the level acidity but I see there are so many other types of beans and maybe I just tried ones that were very pronounced for the region. Not all African beans are overwhelmingly acidic I'm starting to learn. It may have to do with wet verses dry processing, and I think I'll do some research on that today.

On the knitting front, I'm nearly done with a cashmere scarf for commission work. It'll be nice to get that over with. Also have some finishing I've been putting off far too long that I'm hoping to get over and done with soon. My next project I think will be the Flower Basket shawl, the smallest version from the Fall 2004 Interweave Knits. A co-worker and I will start it this week and I picked up yarn at the store's sale yesterday. I've already started the same shawl on a thicker weight yarn, but I just don't like lace in a dk weight yarn or heavier. Especially for a shawl, it just seems bulkier than it should be. This attempt will be Koigu.. mmm.. Koigu.

I'm hoping at some point to get the husband up to my computer so I can fix my Dreamweaver issue and get pictures up on this blog.