The ‘concept’ of coffee concentrate seemingly will fit nicely in my coffee consumption schedule and my roasting schedule. This was supposed to be a simple and quick quest, do a little google kung-fu and then I’d have concentrate. Alas its taken me months of ardous research to develop my concentrate. Or maybe its taken me months because of other reasons …
I’ve mentioned before that now that I have a drum roaster, I can roast more beans than I could possibly drink. One way to increase the ‘volume’ of home roasting is to figure out a way to drink my home-roast at work. I’ve tried to brew at work but thats a hassle and its a little more pretentsious than I like to be. Plus I usually drink coffee because I want to get away from my office – so I make a trip to Starbucks with my laptop. I got this vision of developping a concentrate based drink that I could make and then go to a park to work.
For my roasting schedule, we flip back and forth between traditional french press coffee and espresso. I love espresso but there just seems to be a lot more romance in a micro-lot of beans from Sweet Maria’s that I don’t find in an espresso blend. So I roast ‘coffee’ for about a month or so and then roast ‘espresso’ for the next month. I figure at the end of my coffee cycle I could take the ‘coffee roast’ and turn it into concentrate. Then I’d sorta have both coffee and espresso available.
‘Intellectually’ the idea was compelling. However I had no idea what coffee concentrate was. My google Kung-fu got me several recipes which basically went along the lines of making french press coffee with cold water and then wait 24 hours. The problem with recipes that include “and wait 24 hours” is that 24 hours later I’m doing some other project. And I don’t have a huge inventory of roasted beans, I try to keep everything fresh. I can’t just grind away beans or I’ll be drinking Tea in the morning (bleah). My ability to run repeated experiments causes this simple experiment to take several months because of these roadblocks.
Experiment #1: My first concentrate recipe I found was about a cup of beans + 4 cups of water. Which is just about my normal french press recipe (should have been my first sign). I made the concoction and stuck it in my fridge. The next day I plunged it and tried some — Yum, water with a slight coffee taste!
Experiment #2: I identified the problem, I stuck the coffee in the fridge – the recipe called for setting out at room tempeture. Repeated the experiment, plunged it. Yum, water with a slight coffee taste!
Experiment #3: I knew I was doing something wrong, beans + water + some function = concentrate. I came across a recipe that gave more detailed instructions (probabably because I actually read them this time). 1 ounce of beans to 4 ounces of water. I whipped out my kitchen scale. Measuring by weight indicated I was way way low on beans – I was only using 1/3 of the beans I needed. I reran the experiment with 1/4 pound of beans and 2 cups of water. After waiting the perscribed 24 hours I plunged. A drinkable product came out! I made myself a cup and went to work. I came home and wanted to make a second drink to validate my findings. Unfortunately my wife spilled my container – it was all gone. If you ask her, I left the bottle out and didn’t put the lid on properly — so don’t ask her.
Experiment #4: 1/2 pound of beans:4 cups water. Wow, thats a lot of beans, the grinds fill up half of my large press, I wasn’t sure the water would fit. But now I have a decent amount of concentrate to experiment with.
I still have much experimentation to do on this and it will be slower going than I thought. There is about a week or two of time between each experiment. But I think I have a framework now to work with. I need to figure out the right ratio to “rehydrate” my concentrate and what the best way to serve this product. It seems to be a product that needs sugar, like a sweet ice coffee, but maybe thats because I was craving sugar at the time.