Sunday, January 01, 2006

El Proyecto Tostador: chapter 3

Hoy es el dia de Año Nuevo. Yesterday, New Years Eve, was the day of the new roaster. We actually got everything set up and gathered las tostadoras y otro socios de Coop to do the first roasts together. I spoke some in Spanish to the group and introduced the machine. All were excited but I could see skepticism in the eyes of some and anxiety in the eyes of others, and some pure fascination.

It was most timely - Cristina, one of the roasters, was working on two batches in the ceramic bowl over wood fire as we were getting things ready. I was repeatedly checking on Cristina's progress - the photo of her roasting should tell you the real reason behind this whole project. She was working on 4 kilos of beans and expected the roasting of them to take 1.5 hours.

That is 1.5 hours of constant stirring over the wood fire with lots of wood smoke, she wipes the tears from her eyes and sweat from her face every few minutes, not to mention the endurance necessary to stir and stand, oh, by the way, it's hot too. I noticed she had another 2 kilos waiting to do after the first batch was finished - to me, admittedly a weakling from the north, but this looks a little bit like bondage labor, and for anyone it is really unhealthy breathing. The quality of the roast is secondary to the health issue.

There was lots of help with getting things done. The "Igors", as Lee and Wes have been referred to, did great work - you can can see them making the hole for the thermometer. Henrietta (Enriqueta) has been invaluable, and gracious - since every time I get stuck with my Spanish, I yell, "Enriqueta", and she is at my side, ayudar con mi lingua debíl. Genevieve, Kris, Kristi, ever ready with cameras.
Celina and Ilse keeping me stable, clam and in touch. Pat and Elisa watching over Robertito, aka "Beto" today. Diane our mom superior, who knows all and pays attention to all details - we would not be here if not for Diane.

So, all the equipment was inspected carefully - Ron Kyle's RKDrum is a center of attraction - construction admired. With Doña Carmen at my side we start the process of the first burn in roast. We are using some beans from last year, sort of parchment coffee - they are pretty soft and seem to have a high moisture content, but what we have today - I am a little concerned about the second roast, the first roast we will actually sample (cup). I have never roasted parchment before so I don't know how they will react in the roaster.

David Mitchell (who arrived yesterday from Bainbridge with Lisa, they are in fact Socios, coop members, and have a house next to the the finca, sits with the others and translates my intro where I don't have the Spanish, i.e. most of the intro.
The "OveGlove" gets a demo and is quite a focus of interest.

Well the burn-in roast goes quite a bit faster than I like, about 9.5 min to the end of second crack - I could have gone a little further for the burn-in since we want to get the beans very oily to season the drum. For the first "real" roast I backed off on the preheat temp and the roasting temps - this grill is better than mine up North and seems to put out more heat - I don't think it is just the 90 degree ambient temperature, more btus.

I am so pleased with how things went. Doña Carmen could not wait for any bean rest and she made a pot of of coffee for all to taste. It was good, not great but considering we have many kinks to work out it was fabulous and, I think, erased much of the skepticism. Monday we plan to roast five batches of 2 kilos each - after all this is a functioning cocina and the guests want their coffee.

Below is Everito, Yami's and Ever's new baby - the real reason all of us are working, la futura, los niños!

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Anonymous Peter Kauffman said...

Great news on the toaster! Does the speed of the roast (9 minutes) mean that you can roast more than 2 kilos? How did the assembly go? Did the various rods & plate parts fit ok? Glad to heear that you all made it without any fiddles.....Happy new year!

Peter K.

January 01, 2006  
Anonymous Andrew C. said...

Happy New Year, David et al! It's really great to be able to read a running account of your trip--just wanted to wish you congratulations on getting the roaster up and running!

January 03, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

G Scheiber said...
Feliz nuevo ano. You got lucky on the connection fitting .. supposing they used left hand threads on gas fittings. Sounds like the engineering, both social and mechanical went well and the locals are treating the touristas to some good fresh coffee.
B.I. things are normal, Cris's pictures are at her house and the N.W. is its usual wet, grey January. Buen viaje. G.

January 06, 2006  

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