Published on August 5th, 2009 | by Greg0
Coffee Roasting, Grinding, and Brewing with Nesco and Bodum
Sure, it’s easy enough to get a decent cup of coffee almost anywhere these days (even if drip coffee isn’t as common in Europe as it should be). You don’t need to drink instant (though if you could, we’ve looked at some decent options out there). And you certainly don’t need to roast or brew your own.
But if you want to make your own brew, Nesco and Bodum handle part of the equation. First, you’ll need to find a good source for green beans- the coffee kind- and there a few decent shops online, or you can ask your local roaster for a favor. You’ll also want to make sure that you’re not in the mood for an immediate cup of joe, because roasting takes time, and you’ll also want to leave a bit of time between roasting and grinding. A couple of other general tips: water quality and water temperature can make a very big difference in the end result, as can coarseness of your grind. We can’t cover everything here, but it’s important to experiment a bit at each stage and find what works best for you.
The Nesco Coffee Bean Roaster is a pretty unique unit. A major benefit is that it produces less smoke than the others we’ve seen, thanks to a helpful system that reduces the emissions and means you can actually use this roaster indoors without too much worry. Well, it is still messy though, since the chaff- the sort of covering on the beans, like the stuff on a peanut- is definitely a bit of a pain. There’s a large spinning screw (auger) in the middle of the device that stirs the beans, and keeps the roast surprisingly even. Using the device is as simple as plugging it in, throwing in a small amount of beans (4-6 ounces), then choosing the roast time. We recommend testing out your unit as each may vary, but expect around 20-24 minutes. Also, be prepared to watch and listen, as you’ll want to pay attention to the “cracks”, the secret language of coffee roasting that serves a similar purpose to listening to popcorn pop. They can be very tough to hear at first over the machine though.
Of course, like any roaster, this one is noisy, and can smell a bit. Maintenance isn’t that tough, though you might want a small vacuum around to help with the inevitable chaff, and a colander to de-chaff your finished beans. You’ll also need to take care- the base of the unit gets extremely hot and could burn someone not paying attention. The design is sturdy, fairly attractive, and seems like it could stand up to significant use. As with our previous roasting experiments, the coffee produced at first probably isn’t going to impress, but with some time you can make some interesting brews, and at a fairly low cost. Roasting your own can be fun, and save money over the long term, making the investment of $150 or so worthwhile.
Once you’ve got your roast ready, or if grinding and brewing are more your thing, turn to Bodum. We were going through our records and were shocked to see that we hadn’t featured them in TrulyObscure before, as they make some of the best kitchen stuff- their Pavina double-wall glasses are particularly beautiful and useful (and show off your drinks nicely). Thus, our review panel had high expectations when it came to checking out the Bodum Antigua Coffee Grinder. Luckily, it met and exceeded our standards for both style and substance, offering a solid conical burr grind mechanism that turns out consistent coffee and a large 1/2 pound hopper. Dial in your desired coarseness, from fine espresso to coarse French press, and wait a few seconds. The instant start button allows you to get a specific amount of beans ground, a nice feature even if we didn’t find ourselves using it much. The noise level is lower than some other grinders, the unit is elegant and feels stable, and at $100 it’s a pretty good bargain to boot. Of course, cleaning can be a bit of a pain, but a pipe cleaner or toothbrush are sufficient to wipe out grinds every so often.
Finally, you’re ready to brew. You could use any number of ways, but Bodum offers an interesting alternative- the travel French press, a small durable coffee mug that serves as an easy coffee press. Add your grinds, up to 16 ounces of hot water, and go. It’s well insulated, so you can still count on your java being warm a bit later, and it is reasonably spill-resistant (as long as the press is fully down), and they make them with and without rubber grips. You do need to be quite careful using the plunger, as it is all too easy to let some grounds rise up and contaminate the upper section. Using coarser grounds really helps, though tea fans will have a bit less of an option- rooibos especially is a bit difficult, though most teas worked quite well. Overall, it’s a handy item for camping or when you feel like saving some money or using your own coffees, and at $20 isn’t much more than a normal insulated mug.