Almost 2 years after producing its first significant harvest, My Coffee Plant has quadrupled its output for its second harvest season. While an obvious improvement has been the volume of coffee beans produced, changing the roasting technique has ensured a much better beverage, with surprisingly enjoyable flavors.
By Stuart Hill
I have to admit, My Coffee Plant has a pride of place in my balcony garden. It is a real talking point, for although many people drink coffee, not many actually get up close to the plant that brought them their Americano or Latte.
Unfortunately, I can’t say I have treated My Coffee Plant especially well over the years, but since moving to the WenShan (文山) district of Taipei it is obvious how much it enjoys the new living conditions, by showing its appreciation for how much it feels at home here.
In its first 3 years it transformed itself from a pathetic office desk plant into a stringy display plant. In its 4th year it shot up again, turning into a small but solid shrub, and gave the first signs of its true potential, sprouting a few bright red coffee fruits.
In its 5th year My Coffee Plant went crazy, producing 50 or so berries that provided enough beans to brew 3 espressos! (I made an account of this and the research I did for harvesting and roasting my crop in Home Grown, Home Roasted Coffee and Home Ground, Home Brewed Coffee.)
In the following year, having braved a typhoon that shredded half its leaves and smashed its pot, leaving it lying on the balcony in a sorry state, My Coffee Plant made a triumphant come-back, producing over 200 berries from its brand new (and much more sturdy) container.
For Harvest No 2, based on my own research, experience from the last harvest, and a bit of intuition, I made some modifications to the roasting processes.
Whether or not the combination of better fertilization, more abundant soil, and more consistent watering had anything to do with it, this year’s result has produced a much more sophisticated coffee drinking experience, with a brew offering a subtler aroma and significantly more complex combination of flavors.
Perhaps next year will see even more coffee berries produced. In fact, it might be about time for some professional training in how to roast beans.
The proof is always in the tasting. Last year, the beans were roasted quickly and slightly over cooked, creating a heavy super-dark roast really only suitable for brewing espressos. The final flavor was a heavy smokey roast, with a bitter aftertaste.
This year, by using a lower heat and a slower cooking process, the beans reached a medium roast. In addition to retaining more of their “original bean flavor”, the coffee itself offered a more complex range of flavors, with a lighter taste on the tongue, followed by a creamy nutty aftertaste.