The Ue Shima Coffee Company (UCC) is the only coffee company that “crackulates” its coffee beans. Not just once, but twice. The first “crack” is a gentle popcorn pop that sends out hints of freshly baked cupcakes. The second “crack” explodes like fireworks, the aroma conjuring up perfect morning toast.
After the second crack, the longer the beans are roasted the darker they become and the less caffeine and less flavor and more bitterness they have to offer. Timing is crucial. Always up to a challenge, our group of International Food Wine And Travel Writers (IFWTWA) took the UCC Roastmaster Tour: crackulating and roasting our own beans.
Under umbrellas in the morning mist, we see the cherries on the coffee trees. Turning green, yellow, orange, and then finally red, they are picked by hand.
Regina sorts the mutant Peaberries. Rather than two flat-on-one-side beans per cherry there is a single round bean that is created when one bean dies and the other takes over like an evil twin. The Peaberry beans are packaged under their own classification.
The hands-on portion of the Roastmaster Tour begins.
Tracey Apoliona produces The Cooking Ladies’ Coffee labels.
We decide on a medium roast. Peggy explains that the trick is to tip the beans out of the crackulator at just the right moment, when the color of our beans matches the color on the chart. The longer we hesitate the darker it becomes.
Our equipment: Hot roasters, cooling boxes, and wooden spoons.
Our first check on the beans. We’re eager. The flames in the roaster are burning the spoon.
Our second check, right after the first crack. The beans are rattling in the roaster. We compare the color to the chart several times, just to be sure we’re still safe.
The second crack, another look at the chart, and we do a quick tip into the cooling box. Just a bit of smoke.
We stir the beans over a fan, to cool them down, stop the roasting process, and remove any chaff.
We’ve tasted. The beans are crunchy. Nutty. And not bitter. It’s time for serious bagging.
Several cups of UCC Kona coffee later and we have happy writers.