Friday, July 22, 2011

Green beans: 'The coffee trust'

I've walked by the Kukulu Market ("Ethiopian Specialties!") in my neighborhood a hundred times, and I've always been intrigued by a sign in the window boasting "Ethiopian green coffee." As a tea person, I thought this must be something similar — slightly less produced, or less roasted. Maybe it's actual green coffee beans fresh off the bush ground up and filtered!

Sort of. I finally stopped in this week. Inside the tiny shop, the owner showed me Ziploc baggies of green coffee beans — dusty-green beans with that tell-tale seam down the flat side — as well as a large wicker basket full of them, plus a big scoop. They're just beans that haven't been roasted yet.

"So why buy unroasted beans?" I asked.

"So you can roast them yourself." Then he said something I love: "For some people, it's about finding the coffee trust, finding the spirit of the bean that speaks to them."

Which Folgers, no doubt, or even Starbucks, is not concerned with.

It's a control issue — and price, the green beans are significantly cheaper — so that consumers can roast the coffee to their taste. Like a light roast? Pull them off the heat when you want. Like it dark? Bake those babies!

Many customers, the owner explained, roast the beans at home, just using a pot on the stove (stirring often). There is, of course, plenty of home equipment to purchase, as well, and many different types of green coffee.

(I was also unaware that, just as there are tea ceremonies, there is an Ethiopian coffee ceremony.)

I couldn't help wish tea was available in this state — leaves fresh off the plucking table, available for pan frying at home. I suppose it is available this way if you live next door to the plantation.

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