Friday, November 29, 2013

Roasting Coffee Onboard

First Try!

Green Beans just going in the pan.
It seems that for some of us, as time passes our hobbies become our boats; the past memories of when time was spent on trivial matters, for no other reason then the enjoyment they brought us, soon becomes more and more distant. With the decision to take this winter off and work on boat projects, which are greatly limited to small weather windows, has left me with time. Time to do little things just for the sake of doing them; like placing small green beans in a hot cast iron skillet in the hopes that they will produce a good cup of coffee.

Getting some color and starting to crack!
When we first reached Ketchikan I was somewhat disappointed in the local South East coffee and beer; both of the "standard" popular brands are mediocre at best. With time I found that there was a great local coffee roaster Green Bean Coffee Company and just a couple of days sail north in Sitka was the truly fabulous Baranof Island Brewing Company. Thankfully they do ship their fine product down to Ketchikan so we can just take a short walk to the store to enjoy one of their Medvejie Stouts.

Almost there!
While on the farm I enjoyed brewing my own beer but as the equipment needed would be a bit hard to stow on board so it was sold before the move to the boat. Earlier this week I got a bug to try something new and as I had to go and talk with the hydraulic shop north of us in Ward Cove (where the Green Bean Coffee Company is located) I stopped in and spent sometime talking with Steve the owner and left with a pound of green Honduran coffee beans.

Ground ready for brewing.
That evening I needed to cook down some bacon for bacon bits, while I was waiting I placed our smallest cast iron pan on the other burner to started heating it. Steve told me to use a hot pan and to keep the beans moving in order to obtain an even roast. There I was stirring bacon pieces in one pan and coffee beans in the other. As the beans started to turn color I lost interest in the bacon and concentrated on trying to achieve an even roast on the beans. We like light to medium roast coffee and learned that coffee can go through two "cracks" while roasting. The first is reached right before a light roast and the second is an indication of beans reaching a dark roast. The beans reached the first crack and made quite a mess from the chaff breaking loose. When the beans reached a color that seemed about right I turned off the heat, continued to stir them until the temperature dropped a bit and then transferred the hot beans into a glass bowl to cool.

Last summer Molly met a couple on their steel trawler Seaducktress who roasted their own coffee on-board. They told Molly that after roasting, the beans need to rest for a couple of days for the best flavor. Patience has never been one of my strong points, so once the beans had cooled I ground them and brewed the first pot of my home roasted beans. The reviews were not as good as I had hoped but like Molly said "It's better than Folgers".

It is fun to have a hobby again and I'm looking forward to honing my roasting skills in hopes of one day being in Latin America where my favorite beans are grown.

Note to self: Don't try to do two things at once or the bacon will get burned!

Ahh... coffee!


  1. Tucker and Victoria on Convivia also roast their own coffee. They made a fancy rotisserie contraption that fits in their propane BBQ. You should send them your post. Hope you guys are well. We're in San Diego trying to sort out a broken boom, but I think we're decided to leave soon without a fix and deal with it in Mexico. We'll see. All the best! Del Viento crew

  2. A dock mate showed me a roasting trick using his heat gun/paint stripper. Just point it in the pan & stir the beans to perfection. Gotta try it myself for the next batch of beans. Love following your adventures. Very inspirational. Thank you! Dave (Napa VM).