Geek Acres Home Coffee Roast: Well, That's Nasty

A little more than a year ago, I moved to the Kona side of the Big Island of Hawaii and moved into a house that, among other things, has coffee plants growing like weeds. I was too late to the game to do anything last year, but for the past year, I've been pruning and tending in hopes of getting enough beans to take care of Christmas and birthdays. (Actually, if I actually got the plants producing anything like commercial yields, I'd be coffee self-sufficient, but I don't think I have any chance of realizing that.)

So I picked the very first cherries of the season in late August, separated the pulp from the bean by hand, dried them on the lanai, and hand-peeled away the "parchment" (a fingernail-hardness shell) from the actual, khaki-green bean that is roasted. Experimenting with various milling techniques (rolling pins, etc.) in a so-far-vain attempt to discover something even remotely practical, I ended up with enough green coffee for 1 pot (after, probably, 4 hours of accumulated labor).

Well, I couldn't resist that, so I did my first roast yesterday, using the oven. This morning, with the full moon setting over the predawn Pacific, we ground and brewed the first pot.

The worst coffee I've ever had came from a shop-floor dispenser at an electronics manufacturer in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in November of 1984. The taste was so bad that the moment is imprinted in my memory as indelibly as the memory of the first time I got my nose broken. The dispenser over there, the administrative trailer to my left, the poorly-lit racks of components stretching to left and right, and that taste, combining as it did staleness, acidity, styrofoam, and (I think) toluene...

The coffee this morning wasn't that bad. But I suspect I'll remember it for awhile.