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May Brain Behind the Beard

I hope everyone had a great Memorial Day weekend.  As I was contemplating the grilling that would take place at my house that weekend, it circled me back to where we left off last month’s Brain Behind the Beard.  We were chatting about momentum in coffee roasting and I promised to talk about how coffee roasting has affected how I cook.

I’m going to say typically, but for me absolutely, when one starts out coffee roasting and is possessed by the ideas involved in that how one roasts a coffee will affect how a coffee tastes, it’s pretty much all you can think about.  So on a Saturday morning I’m at the stove cooking fried eggs.  I’m a cast iron skillet kind of guy so I’m pouring the heat to my pan and then melting some butter.  I’m also drinking a cup of my own coffee and evaluating my bourgeoning roasting skill set.  Then suddenly in a flash, or maybe a crack, it occurs to me that when my egg hits the hot cast iron and the chemical processes of cooking begin it equates to drop temp of a coffee roast! 

At this point it’s roaster brain engaged and I start thinking about managing heat transfer.  I don’t want an under developed egg.  I want it well cooked and tasty but I like them over easy, so I don’t want the yolk to solidify.  And then neither do I want the outside of the egg to get crusty and brown.  Now in my own mind at this point I’m an adaptive genius!  I’m applying knowledge, experience and skill to a totally different heat application activity.  Though later when I posted about it on the North Roaster Forum and received supportive comments, I realized I wasn’t splitting the atom.  But it was super fun anyway.

Back to my eggs and heat transfer, I then started to think about momentum (see April BBtB).  And I’m thinking that if having the rate of heat transfer greatly reduced by the time one drops the coffee from the roaster, then it could also work with other things.  So I turn the burner off!  The egg continues to cook but more slowly.  When I take the eggs from the pan the result is amazing.  They are cooked just right.  The flavor and texture are right on.  They even have a nice visual appeal.  But my point here is this.  In gaining an understanding of how transferring heat into coffee bean affects the final chemistry of that bean and the sensory appeal of the coffee made from that bean, it gave me insight into how heat transfer can affect the chemistry and sensory appeal of probably most foods and certain beverages.

The next place this applied knowledge yielded a positive result was on the gas barbecue grill.  Starting burgers on a very hot grill to spike some heat transfer and start the maillard on the outside of the patty is, in my opinion, the way to go.  Then if you can control your heat, rely on some momentum and take them off the grill at the right time you can achieve a tasty scald on the outside and a juicy and not over-cooked inside.  Happy grilling!

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