Home roasting, 19th century style

Discuss roast levels and profiles for espresso, equipment for roasting coffee.
User avatar
Posts: 156
Joined: 17 years ago

#1: Post by jamoke »

My just-received issue of Adirondack Life magazine contained an article on old-time camp coffee. Along with the usual methods of boiling the bejesus out of the grinds, then settling them out with the aid of eggshells, was this gem from the 1884 writings of George Washington Sears, who wrote on outdoor matters under the name Nessmuk:
"To brown (the berry) rightly, put a pound of the green berry into a large spider over a hot fire, and stir it constantly until it turns very dark, with a greasy appearance on the surface of the berry... If intended for the woods, grind it while hot, and can it tightly."
Ed Bugel
Huky #297

User avatar
Team HB
Posts: 13805
Joined: 19 years ago

#2: Post by another_jim »

Very cool! There's a 1690s Royal Society article that describes roasting at that time -- it was also to the point where the beans get dark and oily.

We tend to think these people are idiots for overroasting and overbrewing the coffees. But these are ultra-fermented naturals that were shipped for several years before they arrived in the consuming countries; a light roast would probably have tasted rather funky. Moreover, the coffee was so expensive, it was usually brewed in around four times the water/coffee ratio that is used now, so boiling it for a long time may have been the only way to get any flavor into the water.
Jim Schulman

User avatar
Compass Coffee
Posts: 2844
Joined: 19 years ago

#3: Post by Compass Coffee »

I also found this part rather interesting:
If intended for the woods, grind it while hot, and can it tightly."
Appears to show they also knew something about flavor and staling for their travel coffee. The act of grinding it straight from roast while still hot, then canning it warm and sealing would tend to naturally vacuum seal the can as it fully cooled.
Mike McGinness, Head Bean (Owner/Roast Master)