According to the statistics, Americans consume more than 400 million cups of coffee per day. That adds up to over 146 billion cups a year. The United States leads the way in coffee consumption in the world. Can you get along without your morning cup, or afternoon cup or one after dinner?
First, however, you need coffee, and that means you need a stockpile of it when the SHTF. Coffee is not something you can grow in your backyard. There are those that have attempted to grow coffee under certain conditions, but it is a process that takes considerable time with little yield.
Ground coffee under normal conditions stores well for a few weeks once opened, but time is not coffee’s friend nor is oxygen and moisture, along with temperature swings. Coffee experts tell us that the ideal relative humidity for storing coffee is 60 percent at a temperature of 75° F. Essentially these conditions can be met inside the typical home that has heat and air, but when the SHTF ideal conditions fly out the window.
Whole roasted beans store better because the essential oils in the beans have not yet been exposed to the air. However, the beans should be stored in an airtight container and only grind what you plan to use immediately.
Another option is to purchase green coffee beans and roast them yourself in small batches that can be consumed in the next few days to a week.
There are any numbers of websites that offer green coffee beans, and once you have them home store the beans in an airtight container, like a cooler, for example. Repackage if necessary so you do not have to take out more than what you can use in a few days.
Roasting green beans is by no means complicated, and by doing them yourself, you get the exact roast you want. Lighter roasted beans are mellower while roasting longer produces a darker, stronger brew, but you can over roast the beans, which means you have burnt off all the sugars and oils, which would produce a very poor cup of Joe. Somewhere in between is ideal.
You can roast beans on the stovetop in a cast iron skillet, on a sheet pan in the oven, or you can use a hot air popcorn popper.
If roasting on the stovetop use medium heat and expect some smoke, so use your exhaust fan if equipped and/or open a window. For your average skillet put up to 12 ounces by volume in the skillet.
After a few minutes, the beans will yellow and you will begin to see some steam and be able to smell the coffee roasting. After five minutes or so, you will hear the first crack, and this is the moisture expanding inside the bean, very similar to popcorn kernels bursting open. Sugars at this point are caramelizing and the beans are showing a darker color. After the first crack, you can stop if you prefer a mellow and light roast.
If you continue, the beans will expand and the roast becomes darker, which will produce a stronger brew. More moisture is being released expanding the beans ever further. Soon you will hear the second crack, and this is where many people stop the process. You can go on, but at this point, it takes some experience, so as not to ruin the beans. A few minutes of roasting after the second crack produces what is typically referred to as a French Roast.
Roasting on a sheet pan in the oven set at 400°F takes a bit longer, but produces the same results. You would have to listen closely for the first and second crack if you go that far and follow the process as described above to achieve the roast you want.
If using an air popcorn popper you do have to listen closely so you can hear the first and second crack. This is a faster process and many people recommend using an air popcorn popper for the consistent heat produced.
It takes less time using an air popper and after the first crack, you need to keep a close eye on the beans and listen for the second crack.
Regardless of the process, you use to roast the beans, once done they need to be cooled. Have two metal colanders handy so you can dump the beans from one to the other. This back and forth will help separate out the chaff and cool the beans faster. Cooling them quickly prevents any more cooking of the sugars and oils.
Many of us are used to drip coffee makers. We scoop the desired amount, usually a tablespoon per 6oz’s cup of coffee, into the filter, pour the water over, and wait a few minutes.
You can duplicate this process by simply pouring hot water, about 190° F, over the ground coffee in a filter basket that is set over a pan or some collection vessel big enough. This method is not ideal because a drip coffee maker essentially sprays the hot water to cover all the grounds and the water drips slowly through the grounds. You can sprinkle the hot water over the grounds but this takes time but does work. A wide mouth mason jar works well as a collection cup.
Another method is to steep the coffee grounds, which is similar to making tea. Heat the water first and remove from the heat source and drop in the desired amount of grounds and cover the vessel to keep the heat/steam confined. The longer you steep the stronger the coffee. Some boil the water, while other heat to just below the boiling point. Hotter water produces a stronger brew. You would need to filter the coffee to get the grounds out, or simply pour off the coffee after the grounds have settled.
Eggs shells do help settle the grounds, as does a small splash of cold water once the coffee has steeped.
Some people use a French press and they do have some models that work right in its own drinking cup. A French press is a simple concept. A small plunger pushes the hot water through the grounds. Water under slight pressure extracts more of the oils producing a stronger cup of coffee and more balanced according to some.
You can cure bitter coffee by sprinkling some salt next time over the grounds before using a French Press or when pouring water over or add to the water if steeping.
Cowboy coffee as they call it is adding grounds to boiling water, which can produce a different strength each time. This was the standard method for many along the trail. It makes for stronger coffee, but a very simple process.
Harvard School of Public Health. (n.d.). Retrieved 2017, from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/multimedia-article/facts/