Are you a coffee drinker? Are you a coffee snob? Do you truly know where your coffee comes from? As a family we all enjoy coffee, for myself it is a cold sweet long black with breakfast, Jason likes his coffee often and white, while Sam, a little young for frequent coffee, is a big fan of the coffee flavoured ice cream his Daddy makes.
I seem to keep finding myself in countries that love to grow and drink coffee. Coffee was everywhere when i lived in Ethiopia. They grew it and drank it everywhere. They even claimed to be the nation where coffee was first grown. Visa runs to Kenya, meant being in a country with yet more coffee. Working with MAF, we found ourselves often in and around Mareeba, one of the Australian sources of coffee. And then, Timor-Leste, our current home is yet again a producer of coffee. We have found a favourite Timorese brand of coffee and Jason has perfected grinding the beans to make the best coffee.
So we were happy in our enjoyment of coffee, until last week when we went on a drive to Gleno in the mountains south of Dili, to show Jason’s parents some of the countryside. On our way home, thanks to a detour in the road due to a VIP parade, we found a house with coffee beans drying in their front yard. A huge tarp was covered in beans, so we decided to stop and have a look at them. We were greeted by a gracious and smiling family, who were eager to sell us a kilogram or more of beans. Our plan was just to look, but as they were asking just two dollars for a kilogram of beans, we decided to buy some, while we tried in our limited Tetun to ask what we needed to do with them to make them drinkable. Our understanding extended as far as needing to peel them, roast them and grind them. We hoped Google searches would give us a little more information.
That evening, we began the process of shelling the kilogram of beans. Three of us began shelling as we watched a movie together. Exclamations such as, “I’m not sure we pay enough for coffee!” or “my thumbs hurt” or “surely there has to be a better way to do this!” we heard often as we continued to shell the beans. At one stage Jason tried beating the beans with a rolling pin with no success. Googling gave us no real answers and so we continued on, racing to see who could shell the most while the film continued. Two hours later, with sore thumbs, we eagerly put our shelled beans onto the scales to see what the result of our hard work was….. 250 grams! After two hours of consistent work, for three people, we had completed just a quarter of our kilogram of beans. What a time consuming task!
The late night and busy days followed, which left the green beans sitting on the bench until Wednesday evening when Jason’s enthusiasm bubbled over. He couldn’t wait any longer and began researching methods of roasting the beans. Half of our green beans went into a frying pan to be heated, jostled and listened to for over ten minutes until they were twice cracked. The other batch of beans went into the oven, to be roasted there. Throughout dinner, Jason was frequently found missing from his seat at the table as he eagerly checked on his roasting beans. He left the beans to cool and despite the advice to let the beans sit for twelve or twenty four hours before grinding, Jason presented us with a cup of his coffee, brewed from our shelled and roasted beans.
So for this morning we all drank coffee made from the beans we’d roasted and shelled. It tasted good, but it did take a lot of work to make this cup of caffeine. The question is, will we shell and roast the other 750 grams of beans? I’m not sure I’m ready to repeat the process… but we’ll see what Jason decides. Stay tuned to see….