This place isn't called Coffee|Code for nothing. I'm quite serious about my coffee, to the point of roasting my own. I started a year and a half ago with a Freshroast Plus roaster that was included with a year-long subscription (of two pounds per month) of Merchants of Green Coffee, borrowed my friend Jamie's Hearthware classic hot air roaster last winter after the Freshroast got cracked and started letting coffee chaff fly around the kitchen, and was hoping that Santa-Lynn would bring me a brand new Swissmar Alpenrost drum roaster for Christmas.
So how did I end up with a brand new Hearthware iRoast this week? And why am I so giggly happy?
Well, to begin with, Swissmar announced in late 2004 that they were going to revamp the well-received Alpenrost with a new model, and production of the old model was stopped. Originally the new model was slated for Christmas, then 1Q2005, then, finally, it showed up on several sites for pre-ordering. But, shockingly, the revisions to the model came with a brand new price tag as well -- $600 CDN, almost 50% more than the old model. That, dear readers, is just a bit too rich for this coffee afficianado. You can buy a lot of green coffee for $200!
Having flipped the bird in the general direction of the Swissmar Bravi, I looked around and found the Hearthware iRoast at Birds and Beans for just over $200. It's a hot air roaster that has received many good reviews, the price was right, and to top it all off I have had a warm spot in my heart for Birds and Beans ever since Jamie and I split an order of 100 pounds of green coffee for about $6 a pound. Think about that -- from Starbucks or Second Cup you would be paying about $12 a pound for coffee they've roasted, vs. coffee that is organic, fair trade, shade-grown, bird-friendly (or some combination thereof), and which you can roast to your own preferences. Oh yeah, and you know exactly how long it's been sitting, so if you have stale coffee it's all on your head
I placed the order on Monday, requesting delivery. On Wednesday I received a note from the courier service stating that they had tried to deliver my parcel! That's incredible turnaround time, and one of the reasons I'm giggly happy. But the second reason I'm so happy is that they packed the roaster in biodegradable cornstarch peanuts. They looked exactly like foam, and Lynn thought they were foam until I let one start dissolving on my tongue. Kudos Birds and Beans for that nice environmental touch! They went straight into our compost bin where some day they will help feed a new generation of plants.
The final reason I'm happy is the iRoast itself -- it's a slick unit in glossy understated black. Unlike the Freshroast and old Hearthware, that just blasted hot air at a constant temperature at your beans, the iRoast has a three-stage programmable profile so you can adjust the length & temperature of each stage. Coffee geekdom, here I come! The only drawback is that the profile lasts only as long as the roaster is plugged in, so I'll be taking careful notes... but I've roasted one batch of Peruvian using the dark preset profile and am delighted with the results. It looks like my home-brewed coffee intake is going to rise to new levels; good for me, bad news for Timmies and friends