Reading & Resources: a list of places to go, sites to browse and books to read.
Recommended Internet Resources
Roasters Sites and other Coffee-crazed folks: Personal Sites please contact us to add sites, or report bad links!
- Homeroaster.com is a great sitecreated by Ed Needham, with detailed articles on the construction of a rotisserrie drum roaster, and some neat articles about Maui Moka, Kopi Luwak, Etc. He has a good page on a Poppery II modification by Ben Treichel.
- You can roast with an air popcorn popper, but for legal reasons I can't talk about it too much. Believe me, my (well, our) primary interest is having people enjoy this great hobby, and we really don't care about selling tons of fancy roasting appliances. I used to keep a load of poppers around and give them away, but they are becoming harder to find (try your local thrift stores!) Anyway, there are great online resources and one of the best West Bend Poppery modification pages is Espresso Mio!
- Edward Speigal has a great Popper Roasting Page, plus (because he knows some programming) a page where air popper home roasters can leave their favorite tips, techniques or roast profiles to complement my main popper tips page. http://www.edwardspiegel.org/coffee
- Jim Gundlach has a great page with details on his home-built barbaque rottesserie roaster.The drum construction uses perforated sheet with standard heat duct for end caps. Check it out at http://www.auburn.edu/~gundljh/BBQ.html
- The Coffee Kid web site (http://www.coffeekid.com) has reviews about coffee equipment written in a makes-you-want-to-read-it-all style underscored by nice web page design. It's the sole project of coffee afficionado Mark Prince. It is simply the best resource for coffee information by consumers, for consumers!
- I Need Coffee! You know you do --you fiend! So go visit a content-driven web site called (of course) I NEED COFFEE (http://ineedcoffee.com) with reviews for equipment (like the Hearthware Roaster!) and coffee cuppings, articles, links...
- Modifying roasters and popcorn poppers. We have a page of some "HotRod Home Roasters" (homemade home roasters) that some folks have shared with us over the years.
- I really like Scott Marquardt's page about roasting in a stainless steel mug with a high wattage light.
- Michael Griffin's site at www.coffeeresearch.org stems from his dedication to coffee in a professional and personal capacity. He has done recent research in cooperation with the SCAA and Kenya Coffee Board, and apparantly quite a lot of research making espresso too! His page covers everything from crop to cup and has some great links! It may sound too serious-minded: well, the premise is that quality comes from methodical research coupled with a passion! Is that not true? Go visit, you will learn something new!
- Dick Heggs, Espresso Mio! our roasting comrade of the Northern persuasion (Canada) has rigged an ingenious air popper venting system with scrap plexiglas and a salvaged fan from a copier. Looks great, and is very unobtrusive since its clear. Plexi bonds easily with acetone or contact cement (which usually has a lot of acetone in it). See what you can do with $5 rather than buy a $500 home roasting appliance! Also check out his unique glass attachment (to his air corn popper, duh!)
- The Coffee Experts Group is a seemingly non-commercial site (they do make commercial recommendations) with hoards of coffee information including home roasting instructions. You must visit this site, there's so much good content there!
- Bill Wiltschko has set up a page of his favorite coffee links and roasting experiences. I like pages where people give personal opinions along with the links, so it's a collection of things they truly find valuable and interesting ...and not an immense, unmanagable collection of web detritus!
Important Social Issues Related to Coffee please Contact us to add sites, or report bad links!
- Please see our page about contributions to charitable organizations that benefit coffee-producing regions
- The Songbird Foundation seeks to raise public awareness on issues of species and habitat loss particularly as they pertain to non-sustainable coffee agriculture. Migratory and native bird populations have seen great decline in numbers since the implementation of "full-sun" coffee growing techniques. If the trees are lost, habitat is lost. The trees also hold the soil and water resources. Since most coffee is grown by small farmers we also encourage fair trade practices as the farmers are the true stewards of the land. Coffee, "the commodity of dialogue", serves as an excellent tool to begin a public discussion on the necessity of practicing economic sustainability. If we can convert to sustainably grown coffee we may able to apply sustainable practices to other commodities, as well. The website is at: http://www.songbird.org/ .
- Coffee Kids works with coffee farmers and their families to encourage educational and economic opportunities in coffee growing regions, and generally imporve the quality of the farmers life. Their funds are invested in projects that work, and they have focused on micro-loan programs to allow people in coffee farming regions who want to start an enterprise that diversifies and enriches the community to have a chance at success. They dont toss money at problems. They dont impose, they support. Sweet Maria's, along with many coffee businesses, enjoys the opportunity to "give back" something to the growers through our Business Membership, Coin Drop box, and sales of T-Shirts. Their web site tells you more about their work than I ever could....
- The Lair of the Chrome Peacock has just about all the information, kinks, a luscious pictures of the Pavoni that a person can bear. And the site looks great too!
Coffee Brokers With Something To Say
- Cafe Campesino is a new, small-scale specialty coffee importer trying to popularize the fair trade issue, and make fair trade coffees available to small-batch roasters (but they only sell full bags of green coffee, so they're not for the home roaster)! Their web site has interesting personal experiences gathered from their excursions through Mexico and Central America, observing the impoverished economies of coffee-growing peoples.
- Royal Coffee is a respected importer and coffee broker. All their experience is first hand, so I find their article on shade-grown coffees very interesting.
The Trade Association
- The Specialty Coffee Association of America is the central organization for this business. Take a walk around their site sometime. We are members.
Slightly Corporate Coffee Sites
- The Coffee Review focuses on cupping popular blends and estate coffees, mostly by Ken Davids. They rate on a 100 point scale, and I am really impressed with the excellent, well-organized information packed into this place. They now offer a web store, with the Unimax home roaster, some interesting coffees, etc.
- Fresh Cup is more of a print magazine with super fancy photos that happens to have a web site. They only make one or two articles available to their web audience: you have to subscribe to get the whole thing.
- CoffeeTalk is a trade journal for the coffee industry and I am concerned about the direction it's headed since my latest copy of the print version is retitled "Coffee and Cuisine." I might recommend The Tea and Coffee Trade Journal over CoffeeTalk if it turns into a gourmet food mag.
Tiny Joy is Sweet Maria's bi-monthly newsletter. It details new developments in home roasting and keeps you updated on our latest offerings. Included with all orders, it makes fine bathroom reading...
There was a fairly good article in the San Francisco Chronicle about Home Coffee Roasting called "Extreme Coffee..."
Kenneth Davids writes excellent, informative books on coffee. We sell the Home Coffee Roasting book, Coffee: A Guide to Buying, Brewing and Enjoying and Home Coffee Roasting: Romance and Revival. His third book is Espresso: Ultimate Coffee. They are all available at your local independent bookseller. There are a billion coffee books out there, so check your local library too.
Coffees Produced Throughout the World by Phillipe Jobin is outdated, but still relevent and fascinating. It will set you back at least $150, but is well worth it ... I refer to it often.
Coffee From Plantation to Cup is an All About Coffee style of book by F.B. Thurber from the 30's. I have used many historical images from it.
I really like Kevin Knox's book Coffee Basics ...it just seems to have the right mix of informed opinion, good standard advice, and a healthy dose of bias based on his years of experience. I carry it because its not just another "how to brew great coffee and espresso drink recipe" book. I guarantee you will learn a lot from reading this, nomatter what other coffee books you have read!
Uncommon Grounds, a new-ish book by Mark Pendergrast is a great read.
CoffeeMakers: 300 Years... by Bramah is a great coffee table book with lusterous images of brewers throughout history and a few neat pages on home roaster too!
A University library, especially one with an Agriculture department, will have several interesting technical books on coffee. Many cover the same aspects, and are mostly geared toward botanical/agricultural issues with less coverage on roasting and consumption. Here are some of the titles I have read:
- Coffee Technology by Michael Sivetz and Norman DeRosier isn't very pertintent to the needs of specialty coffee roasters or the home roaster, but the accompanying mini-book called Coffee Quality is very interesting. It's passionately biased and verges on being a cut-n-paste revolutionary tract!
- Coffee: The Plant and the Product by Rene Coste. A more recent book that is largely agronomical but interesting and has much valuable information as far as processing practice goes.
- Coffee: Botany, Biochemistry & Production of Beans and Beverage edited by M.N. Clifford and K.C. Wilson. Another more recent book (1985) that is highly technical but rewarding. It has the best section on the chemical and structural makeup of the bean that I have read.
- Modern Coffee Production by A.E. Haarer (no, not Harrar). This is almost exclusively an agronomical book and is older (my copy was 1962) also. I didn't get much from this book that I couldn't get elsewhere.
- Coffee: Botany, Cultivation and Utilization by Frederick L. Wellman is really all about cultivation but features the most information on bugs, diseases, molds and other coffea arabica afflictions.
The Perfect Cup : A Coffee Lover's Guide... by Timothy James Castle is another quality book on coffee, with only minimal fluff. I like his list of tasting terms, but otherwise Davids' books cover all this stuff better.
If you want a book about coffee and tea, try the book aptly named Coffee and Tea by the Shapira clan. They turned their families old roasting business into one of the first "specialty roasters" in the late 60's.
Coffee and Coffeehouses: The Origins of a Social Beverage in the Midieval Near East by Ralph S. Hattox is an interesting (if somewhat pedantic) resource for information on the early middle east coffee culture. Impress your friends by pronouncing the names of famous Sufists correctly!
America's Favorite Drug: Coffee and Your Health, by Edward Bonnie, is worth checking out from your local library. If coffee consumption worries you to the point where you can't enjoy it, a critical reading of anti-coffee literature might help you make up your mind. The jury is out on coffee's harmful effects, but not in the opinion of Edward Bonnie. We have written a short account of our opinions on the matter.
The Joy of Coffee by Corby Kummers. An annoying customer said they worshipped this book, so my opinion of it might be tainted. Anyway, it seems to offer the same orthodox opinions on coffee as many other books, and the writer seems to be starstruck by a particular set of coffee-worlds personalities he selected as praise-worthy. It reads a bit like an ad for La Minita Estate, Coffee Connection and a few others. It's a proficienty-written ad, but definitely an ad. I would rather read Davids for "Intro to Coffee" material, and beyond that I would like to read someone with stronger opinions of their own, although I do believe he tested and tried everything he discusses.
The Tea and Coffee Trade Journal is a great resource if you are considering "going pro." You can reach them at 212-391-2060. A 1 year subscription is only $30, but I am not sure if this is only available for businesses in the tea and coffee trade. I happen to have a large bound-edition, ex-liris collection of these dating back to the 1920s.
The Coffee Book by Gregory Dicum discusses why Fair Trade coffees and Organic coffees are worth looking for.
Coffee with Pleasure - Just Java and World Trade by Laurie Waridel makes a clear case for the idea of Fair Trade coffee.
|You can get a custom one-of-a-kind tamper made for your machine from exotic woods. Our friend Les Albjerg crafts each one by hand - Thor Tampers The tamper shown is Buckeye Burlwood but Les makes great tampers from Coffee Burlwood, and Myrtlewood, as well as many other options. They are weighted, have an incredible feel, and are truly an art object.|
So, you are thinking of going pro??? Well, I hope you have a very thick wallet because you cannot skimp on roasting equipment, and it is quite expensive. We are biased toward Diedrich Coffee Roasters because it is what I used (now I have a Probat L12). Other fine sources are Probat, Primo, and Ambex.
The Home Roaster Coffee is run by the roasting arm of a broker called Mountanos. They are big, and seem to be devoting some resources to being THE home roasting supplier. Given this, and their access to coffee at cheaper prices, their prices should be lower than mine but they sure don't seem to be. It scares me to think a big company can come along and blow a little operation like mine out of the water. Maybe they can, maybe they can't. We'll see. But their phone is 612-922-2238
The Coffee Project has a flatter stovetop type cranking roaster for sale, the AromaPot (we don't stck it anymore), which comes with a good quantity of green beans, Ken Davids Home Coffee Roasting, and some other stuff. It's a little over $100. Robert Piacente points out in Chaff that his only problem with it was that your hand gets hot while cranking it, but overall he felt it was good. I am happy with the Whirley-Pops we sell. I have quit selling the AromaPot ...they jam up. But if you ever need one, or need one fixed, these guys are devoted to it.
Your best source for an air popper are thrift stores. Because people use their microwaves to make popcorn nowadays, there are tons of poppers of the correct design available from $2 to $5. The names to look for are the Poppery II, West Bend Corn Popper, Hamilton Beach Popaire 2, The Popcorn Pumper, and JC Penny brand. You can't be guaranteed they will work, but it's just a few bucks! The best one ever is the original West Bend Poppery, ugly as heck, but it will work forever...
More Links for people in the Coffee Trade:
Trade Reports, Science Organizations
More Coffee Associations