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Sweet Coffee Italia - Ceylon/Sri Lankan beans

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  • Sweet Coffee Italia - Ceylon/Sri Lankan beans

    Long story short, the second wave of the coffee industry is just taking off here in Sri Lanka where I will be living for the next 1-2 years. I am working with a local cafe to bring their coffee up to a better than terrible standard.

    Although known as a tea growing nation, Sri Lanka started off growing coffee. Coffee production in Sri Lanka peaked in 1870, with over 111,400 hectares (275,000 acres) being cultivated. A blight struck, and the tea-loving British decided to cultivate tea instead.

    There's not much documented about Ceylon beans, so I'm starting from scratch. The owner of the cafe, despite his well intentions knows very little about coffee but is committed to quality. He owns some land where they are growing and processing beans.

    At this stage, they are roasting to French which is way too dark. I'm going to try to dial it back, but it's going to be mostly trial and error. I have a Gemma by Sweet Coffee Italia to work with.

    1. What's a good place to start when roasting beans of unknown origin? Is there a step by step I can follow?
    2. Any tips for using the Gemma would be appreciated, as the manual is not that easy to understand.

    (mods - not sure if this is even the right forum)

  • #2
    Very easy to use roaster, even for the novice like myself.

    Can't seem to get a decent pour though, no matter what I do and I think Ceylon beans have a way to go before they are back to their glory days. Will wait a few days and see if it settles, though even looking at the first pours, I'm not convinced.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by tashie View Post
      Very easy to use roaster, even for the novice like myself.

      Can't seem to get a decent pour though, no matter what I do and I think Ceylon beans have a way to go before they are back to their glory days. Will wait a few days and see if it settles, though even looking at the first pours, I'm not convinced.
      From your original post I can only assume you have limited experience with roasting and especially working with a new roaster after only 1 day or roasting it would seem jumping the gun to me to assume the problem is purely the beans? Perhaps posting some images of the roasted beans can help. Being under roasted can also make the pour less "pretty" but how does it taste?

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      • #4
        Definitely a newbie roaster. I will post pictures and would really appreciate some diagnosis from the experts.

        Just from smell though - the beans don't have the same aroma and depth as beans that I purchase do.

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        • #5
          What I know so far -

          The green beans have lots of bore beetle holes in them. LOTS. Staff are sorting them by hand and estimate about 50% wastage.

          I have attached pictures of different roasts.

          The beans have almost no aroma when they come out of the roaster. By this I mean no depth - they smell quite flat - not like when you open a bag of freshly roasted beans. They taste just like they smell.
          Attached Files

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          • #6
            They are great pictures, certainly helps diagnose.

            Originally posted by tashie View Post
            The green beans have lots of bore beetle holes in them. LOTS. Staff are sorting them by hand and estimate about 50% wastage.
            Don't worry about the borer holes. The coffee is certainly organic if it looks like that and if it was good enough for the beetle to eat then you should like it too!


            Some of the broken beans in that shot might roast faster and might "tip" (burnt on the ends during roasting). On average it won't make a big difference to the cup, again, relax and don't hand sort.

            The beans have almost no aroma when they come out of the roaster. By this I mean no depth - they smell quite flat - not like when you open a bag of freshly roasted beans. They taste just like they smell.
            Perfectly normal.
            Put them in a sealed container and try again in a week. Coffee needs a "rest" and most are disinteresting off the roaster and far better after a few days.

            The 4th pile of beans from the left in that picture looks like a good starting point to experiment.

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            • #7
              Thanks a lot Andy! (sorry realised that picture did not resize properly, but fourth pile was around 192C).

              Great to know about the bore holes. Guess I will tell them that they can skip sorting it at all!

              If I can get some through customs/quarantine I will bring you a couple kilos for playing around with, as a thank you Andy. It is organic and might be fun to play around with.
              I am well out of my depth, but as usual CS and it's contributors are a wealth of info. Thank you so much.

              I will report back.

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              • #8
                Heya Andy, I thought I'd bring you a couple of kilos as a thank you and for you to have a play (pending Australian customs requirements) but can't PM you, so if you see this, drop me a line and I'll see what I can bring back with me in Dec.

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                • #9
                  The best way to contact Andy is via the Contact Us link found at the bottom of every page.


                  Java "3...2...1...Contact!" phile
                  Toys! I must have new toys!!!

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