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Food thoughts

Expensive coffee beans bought online, or from a Special Coffee shop, seem to be sort of dry, sometimes almost a bit dusty-looking, sometimes even a little shrivelled.  But supermarket coffee beans are fat, round and near-black and rather beautifully shiny.  Do they wax or oil them to improve their appearance or storage abilities?  Are fat coffee beans cheaper than little wizened ones?

Why are wheat and oats and barley eaten only when ground or squashed, when other seeds are eaten whole?  Is ground seed less allergenic than whole seed, or is it that 'nut' is shorthand for 'a kind of seed that contains some particular allergenic Thing'?

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( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
chainmailmaiden
11th Mar, 2015 23:28 (UTC)
Not sure the near black of supermarket coffee beans is a good thing, it usually means a very dark roast and burnt flavours. I like Pact coffee, they have lovely light roasts.

I've been buying spelt which comes as whole grains and you can use like rice. I use barley like that too. Not sure whether there's any difference in how allergenic they are depending how they're prepared.
bunn
11th Mar, 2015 23:59 (UTC)
It's not so much the shade of supermarket coffee that intrigues me, as the texture. What makes it so *shiny*?

I tend to prefer the lighter roasts too. I've had some Pact ones, I think, but often I forget to re-order and end up just grabbing a bag.
ozisim
15th Mar, 2015 10:58 (UTC)
There are different kinds of beans. The big fat ones are probably Robusta (but could be mocha), and are able to be grown in more places, so are cheaper. The smaller ones with the very flat side are arabica, which are considered by most coffee snobs to be the best variety.
The shiny comes down to the roast. The beans have oil in them, which is where all the caffeine and flavour is. By roasting them, you bring the oils to the surface, which means that they go oils are more easily extracted. And here is where is starts to get complicated - depending on how you are making the coffee depend on how much you want those oils roasted up. - French presses need a dark roast and a coarse grind, so that the beans are very shiny and the chunks are big enough that you don't end up with sludge in the bottom of your cup. Espresso needs a medium roast and fine grind, because the flavour is being picked up by steam passing through the coffee, not water.
Then we have the problem that once you dark roast a soffee, the oils will evaporate off in about a week. So you are always better to buy your artisan fancy freshly roasted stuff in 1/4kg lots every spweek, aprather than 1kg every month... You can extend the life a little by buying a light roast and finishing it at home. Scatter the beans on a bikkie tray and put them in the oven at 250°C for about 7-10 mins. Keep a good eye on them, they will stay the same for quite a bit, then turn darker very quickly. The second that they start to smell like burnt sugar you are too far, they will be nasty, start again.
bunn
15th Mar, 2015 17:08 (UTC)
Thank you! I bet you are right and the cheap supermarket ones are robusta and hence bigger/fatter.

The ones I have bought online have generally come in trendy-looking paper wrappings, whereas supermarket stuff is in sealed bags. Could it be that the supermarket wrappings do a better job of preserving the oils?

I don't think I have the tastebuds to be a coffee snob, although I can at least tell that home ground tastes better.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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