Today I’m featuring a guest post by Dennis Ference!
It all began when my neighbour, Rodger, called and asked if I’d like to visit a coffee plantation on St. Vincent.
A coffee plantation? I had no idea anyone was growing coffee on the mainland, although I did know they had the soil, altitude and climate suitable for maturing beans. I was intrigued. I immediately checked online and discovered that green coffee beans can be roasted in a wood-fired pizza oven. I happen to have built one of these.
We met with Duke and his wife at their property in Green Hill and they gave us an over-whelmingly accommodating tour that was filled with every bit of information to do with coffee.
I mentioned to Duke that I was interested in experimenting with roasting coffee in my pizza oven and he provided me with a pound of green beans. As well, I bought a half pound of the roasted, ground coffee Duke is selling.
First thing I had to do was design and build a roasting container. It needed to keep the beans moving and allow for even heating and exposure to the fire. So I ended up with a design that’s kind of a cross between a squirrel cage and a paint roller.
Here’s a short video of the roasting process … essentially just rolling the roaster back and forth across the floor of the oven until you hear a distinct cracking sound as the beans expand and turn brown.
As soon as the desired darkness was reached, I removed the roaster from the oven, spread the beans out on a tray and sprayed them with ice water to stop the roasting process. Once they were cooled, I winnowed the remaining chaff off the beans by tossing them into the air in a colander.
I enjoyed what I thought to be an outstanding cup of coffee! Absolutely no bitterness or acidity, and it had kind of a mocha aftertaste, despite the fact that I purposely dark-roasted it. Which says a lot for the quality of the beans themselves. Would I do this again? For sure! In fact, I’ve already planted some of the raw coffee “cherries” Duke gave me and I should see the first sprouts in about a month. I never expected when I moved to Bequia in 1996 that I would ever become a coffee nabob …