Coffee: North Market Coffee Roast

  • Photo by Jodi Miller
By Columbus Alive
From the March 29, 2012 edition

Locally roasted coffee has exploded in Columbus.

Boutique operations are preparing beans in places like Olde Towne East, the Short North, Clintonville and Upper Arlington. Drinkers are turning from favorite chains to experience hand-crafted cups.

The supply and demand sides of this growing trend will converge Saturday morning at the North Market Coffee Roast for demonstrations, tastings and live entertainment.

In addition to frequenting local coffeehouses, many Columbus java fans are learning to roast beans at home.

Here are some tips on how to take matters into your own hands.

Learn the basics

What does first crack sound like? How long does it take to achieve a full city roast? These are the types of things you’ll want to know before adding heat to green coffee. The roasting process takes a few hours to understand, but a lifetime to master. Research saves time and money.

Try it before you buy it

Chris Bishop, owner of Backroom Coffee Roasters in Upper Arlington, said that first-timers should roast some coffee with basic supplies before making a big investment. Some find it fun. Others don’t. You can roast coffee in a skillet, using a wooden spoon, an oven thermometer and several simple kitchen tools. Online coffee retailer Sweet Maria’s has several videos showing how to get good roasts from a popcorn popper.

Get quality raw goods

Coffees from around the world differ immensely in flavor, aroma, body, acidity and other characteristics. Understand what you enjoy, then experiment with different types. Beans are available from a number of online retailers, but buy only from someone who has actually cupped and tasted the varieties for sale. Sweet Maria’s is among the best and sells many green coffees for less than $7 per pound, plus shipping.

Find your place

The roasting process can produce noise, steam, smoke and chaff. Prepare your beans in a well-ventilated space where you won’t disturb your roomies. Roasting outside is sometimes an option, though ambient temperature does affect the process. Beans continue to cook after being removed from the roaster, so you’ll also need a place and method to cool them quickly.