Today, I am chronicling the start of a process that I have only dreamed of in the past…harvesting my own coffee beans!
For those of you who know my level of coffee snobbery and addiction, you would understand the gravity of this proclamation! I stopped by my neighbor, Auntie Pearl's, house to ask if I could pick some coffee berries off of her tree that day and she decides to take me to her cousin’s house at the back end of the village so as to get MORE coffee berries. We get to the end and she points to the top of the tree showing the bright red and ripe berries on the branches and starts to ask for a ladder. But, this is my dream right folks, so I turned down the ladder and jumped into the tree. Now I’m pulling branches of ripe berries towards me and dropping them on the floor for the local kids (they follow me everywhere) to pick up and put in my bucket. With a full bucket of berries:
I walked back to my house and:
Sat underneath the raised foundation at my newly constructed work station of a board and an old glass bottle.
At this point there were about 5 kids who showed up to see what I was doing and started to help. Sooner rather than later I was the manager of a child’s sweat shop …
First we “panged” or pounded the berry, just enough to burst it open:
and then we pulled the cream colored slimy bean from inside:
and put it in a bucket full of water to soak.
The kids had a full assembly line going and we finished in no time! Then the kids got bored and off they ran to play cricket or catch a monkey or something.
Next, I soaked the beans until the slimy coating on the outside began to dissolve (about 3 days). Then I washed them out and put them in a pan to begin the most tedious, watching-paint-dry process of drying the beans.
They have to be dried for about 2 weeks and cannot be rained on, which means when it starts to drizzle you are dashing out the door to bring in your beans (and washing if you can remember them/have enough hands for them, priorities people). As the beans dry there is a thin shell that cracks and this is where my child sweat shop managerial skills are impeccable. The kids magically reappeared of course and together we peeled the shell off of each and every single bean for hours. After that, there is a parchment that must be rubbed off or sifted off of the bean to result in the green, non-roasted product that you’ve seen in the real coffee snob’s coffeehouse as they prepare to roast the beans.
I then walked with a container full of beans to a house across the village where we roasted the beans in a Cahari (type of pot) over an outdoor fire until they were browned aka roasted.
We immediately pulled them off of the fire, sifted them one more time, and then we put them in a hand mill that was passed down through generations for over 200 years.
I walked back across that village with a FINE smelling container of freshly ground/roasted beans with a smile and spring in my step, that truly marked an addict in anticipation of their next fix. =]. On my first morning enjoying the coffee, I used my travel French press to brew these celebrated Guyanese beans.
Breakfast completely brought to you by the land of Waramuri.
I tell you I will never be the same and my snobbery will be 500% worse when I return to the states, of that I can guarantee.
Voila, coffee made from start to finish!