"She refused to be bored, chiefly because she wasn't boring." Zelda Fitzgerald

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Coffee: Homegrown, Home-dipped.

Remember, back when I talked about the coffee tree blooming?

So, it bloomed beautifully...and survived the wild botanical mistreatment of our move and then it started making coffee cherries! Really! I couldn't believe it. I was so proud. This  stalwart little tree, valiantly blossoming and fruiting here in the chaos of an urban home in Connecticut. That's guts, right?

As soon as Planty (he has a name) started to fruit out A and I began plotting what we'd do with the coffee. We're not big coffee drinkers and it was sure to be an infinitesimal amount of beans anyway. We considered just eating the cherries by themselves to see what coffee in-the-raw was like and decided we felt badly about not going further with our hard-won produce. And then a brilliant idea hit me! Chocolate covered coffee beans. Genius. A small amount was ideal, it highlighted the little nuggets beautifully and it would be a genuine experience to take it from tree to table. The other hidden bonus was of course that chocolate covered coffee beans can easily be packed up and fly across the ocean to be shared with Miq and Penny, the tree's rightful owners.

And that is how I found myself finishing the process, this afternoon and looking proudly at the first homegrown coffee beans, hand-dipped in quality dark chocolate....that I have ever known. There is something cool about making a thing yourself, however silly the quest may be.
Here's how it worked:

First we picked the ripe, red cherries.

Then we peeled off the skin (which we found were sweet when we couldn't resist tasting them), and put the beans themselves to soak and ferment in a little water.

They soaked for about 3 days. Every day or so I poured off the water and added fresh and rubbed the beans to encourage the pulp to drift off and leave the seeds bare. Somewhere in there, the seeds began to separate and I found that each cherry contains two seeds, their flat bellies sweetly pressed together. You learn new things, every time the sun comes up. Once the seeds were feeling pretty clean, I rubbed them smooth and free of all fleshy bits and gave them one more good rinse under the faucet.

Next I stoked a fire in the fireplace and got out the vintage popcorn popper that I found at an estate sale this summer.

Once the fire had created some nice coals I put all the beans into the cage and rattled them over the coals for a good long time, checking periodically to see how they were coming. Eventually, they started to smell nicely: a great toasting, roasting aroma that I can still smell hanging in the house. Not too long after, they were finished. I think we might have taken some of them a bit farther than we wanted but hey....a dark roast is more European, right?

I let the beans cool and melted some dark chocolate. Once the chocolate was a shining, wet puddle of sweet I was ready to do the final dip. Each bean took a swim in the cocoa bowl and then was dripped out onto a wax paper sheet where they cooled and became...our very first crop of homegrown chocolate covered coffee beans. So, so cool.

Miq and Penny, watch your mailbox!

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