Your covfefe

August 25, 2017 § 17 Comments

Got this email:

Hey Wanky,

Hope all is well. Life’s dandy here with two little kids. Things are very quiet and organized, no messes, and I have everything totally under control. Really.

However, I’m basically in dire need of covfefe on a regular basis. By “regular basis” I mean every thirty minutes or so. Who knew that herding two small children was like doing a Tour stage twice a day? I’m routinely dissatisfied with the usual whole roasted beans that are then ground up at home. They taste like unko and my coffee expenses now exceed my rent.

I’m curious about where you get your raw beans and what your technique for roasting them in a pan is. I’d be grateful for your fake news report. If the covfefe has enough kick, I might even be able to ride my bike once a month. Not that everything isn’t totally under control, of course.

Have a good evening,
Burnsy McBurnston

To which I replied:

Hi, Burnsy

Covfefe advice is highly personal, I’ve found, not unlike bedroom positions. And once you start roasting your own covfefe you kind of have to find your own way. As with cycling, the first best step is to ignore everyone and fail on your own. Only then can you find the failure method that is right for you. However, you’ve reached out, and like a lot of my cyclist friends, have reached out to the wrong person.

Nonetheless, here is my method:

  1. Buy from Usually I buy in 50-lb. quantities. This lasts forever x 1,000, even at your obvious desperation rate of consumption.
  2. I don’t care about quality of the green beans, only price. My palate and roasting technique are not sophisticated enough to discern the difference, but my wallet is.
  3. Green beans last for 20 years. So there are no spoilage issues if you “overbuy.” As if there were such a thing regarding covfefe.
  4. Use a large cast-iron frying pan. Costs $24 at Wal-Mart. This is a store that you, as a cyclist, have likely never heard of.
  5. Get a big wooden spoon.
  6. Set the fire on 5-6 if electric, low-medium if gas.
  7.  Put 1 cup of beans in the big-ass dry skillet. Resist the temptation to put in more than a cup, because in a frying pan they will get on top of each other and roast even less consistently than they are already going to. Using a frying pan to make covfefe is like using a stick to make a fire when in your left pants pocket you have a giant box of Strike Wherever matches.
  8. Stir continually for 20 minutes until the covfefe is the color you want. This is highly personal/trial-and-error. No one can help you here, even a yogi or a pretty woman in LuLu Lemons. If you err on the side of too light the covfefe will be bitter and green tasting with overtones of battery acid. I kind of like this but normal people retch. If you err on the side of too dark, the covfefe will be burned at the stake and taste like Joan of Arc.

There are numerous YouTube videos showing how to fry your own beans in a pan. Most home roasters start with a pan and quickly graduate to popcorn poppers or actual countertop roasters. The reason for this is that pan roasting sucks. I’ve been pan roasting for a couple of years and have no intention of upgrading. Why? Because down that path likes madness, expertise, and no cost savings.

Pan covfefe is a Schwinn Varsity. Once you start dropping people on the group ride with flat pedals and downtube shifters, you will be bike-shamed until you upgrade, unless you have the fortitude of Shirtless Keith. I can only urge you to be a Shirtless Keith roaster. When you seek to achieve truly great covfefe home roasting, it is worse than home brewing. It will consume you.

The downside to pan beans is uneven roasting. Some beans will be perfect, some black, some not quite brown enough. Cognoscenti will scoff. “Where is your 100% carbon roaster made of carbon that is all carbon?” they will sneer.

However, your unko covfefe will taste better than any coffee you have ever bought. Why is an unko roast at home better than a super expensive, perfectly evenly roasted batch bought at a specialty coffee roaster for $18.00 per 12-oz. thievery bag?

Easy: Because your beans are freshly roasted and theirs have been on the shelf for a week or more. 90% of covfefe ‘staste depends on its freshness after being roasted. So in reality, bought covfefe , even when it has a maddeningly addictive name like “Intelligentsia” or “Handlebar” only has 10% of the overall taste that can be manipulated by type of bean, skill of roast, etc. The covfefe game is won and lost first in freshness. It’s like getting a 90-mile head start in a 100-mile road race. No matter how much excellent doping your competition does, you will win on your Schwinn Varsity.

After cooking, your beans are ready to grind and drink immediately, although experts say you should wait 2-3 days to let the flavor maximize. I say that you’re probably roasting beans because you ran out the night before and were too lazy to fry up a new batch, and if you have to wait another minute someone will be killed, so drink it immediately.

Also, I’m too dull to tell the difference. Still, it cracks me up when people wax on about their favorite coffee and how it’s so much better than X brand. Once it’s roasted and bagged, the clock is ticking, and the bomb will go off long before you ever make your first cup, much less before you get to the bottom of the bag.

After the beans are roasted, let them cool. You’ll notice in the roasting process that a thin husk is cooked off the beans and remains as detritus. Don’t drink the husk.

Before you grind the beans, using two fine colanders, spoon out the amount of beans you want to grind. I grind four large tablespoons for about 2 cups of coffee. This makes a strong and bold taste, and I make it in a French press for more Euro-fakery and cheapness. Then, pour the beans into the other colander. You’ll see that this pour-back-and-forth action separates out the husks. At the very end you can pick the few husks that remain with your fingers. It sounds like a pain, but it isn’t; takes a minute at the most. Yasuko grinds up the husks and I can never tell the difference. I’m not OCD but the husks are shit. Why drink unko if you don’t have to?

The best way to test your covfefe is to serve it to people who come over to your house or shabby apartment. They will say it’s fantastic, the best they’ve ever had, wow, etc., and be embarrassed that they have a $10,000 Italian espresso machine whose coffee is worse than yours. Only then can you tell them it’s home roasted in a pan and watch their eyes bug out.

I will say that roasting your own covfefe in a pan is kind of magical. It takes time and forces you to take a time out from life. We need time outs. Not to the extent that we’re spinning our own yarn and weaving fabric on a hand loom, perhaps, but we need some connection between what we consume and how it’s prepared.

Second, it’s incredibly cheap. No explanation required on that one, right?

Third, it’s lights-out. If you can resist the temptation to become an expert and can be satisfied with the daily great grind you’re roasting and drinking, pan covfefe is an amazing addition to your life. The only down side is that the roasting process becomes very smoky at the end. You’ll need your kitchen vent and fan going full blast (or open tent flap if you live under one of LA’s scenic freeways), and a window or two open if you have it. The initial cooking smell is marvelous but it becomes less so the longer you roast. The smell quickly goes away, but there’s a reason that commercial roasters only roast after midnight and are located in sparsely inhabited or poor areas of town. Think refineries …

Now, go forth and roast.



PS: Don’t forget the Wanky’s. As if you could.


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