June 26, 2009
Jan Swoope - [email protected]
David Dunn shies away from the word "obsession."
"''Passion'' sounds better," he chuckles, "let''s say I have a passion for roasting my own coffee."
The Columbus attorney and his wife, Dr. Cherry Dunn, added a coffee bar to their home about five years ago.
"It was a dream; I''ve always loved coffee. I got seriously interested in it in the ''80s and stumbled into this little hobby of home roasting. In ''88, I bought my first home roaster and have gone through probably eight to 10 in the last 20 years."
Dunn also has an espresso machine from Italy and a French press.
In the past two decades, he''s witnessed the coffee universe truly open up for the do-it-yourselfer, thanks in large part to the Internet.
"When I started, you couldn''t buy this stuff," he stated, referring to unroasted -- or "green" -- coffee. "You had to go to the port of entry, or go to the roastery (the "big boys" who roast large quantities of beans) and beg them to sell to you. Now, it''s a huge cottage industry. Go Google ''green coffee'' or ''home roasting coffee,'' and you''ll get thousands of hits."
One of Dunn''s inspirations for his personal cottage industry is a vintage photograph taken long ago in historic downtown Columbus.
"It''s before World War II, and there were people roasting on Main Street. There''s a little guy with a kiosk and he''s turning his little hand roaster over charcoal. People would go downtown and get their fresh roasted coffee."
The longtime devotee revels in the almost limitless flavors and nuances to be discovered.
"You can buy now from all over the world -- Sumatran coffee, or African or Kenyan. I keep all these different kinds around and play with them to find different blends I like," he enthused.
"The Kenyan AA, for instance, is a very high grade of coffee that tends to have a dry snap to it, kind of like a dry wine ... so you can blend that with a more full-bodied coffee, like Columbian, and come up with something that''s just uniquely yours."
There are three good reasons to pursue home roasting, Dunn outlines. The first is freshness. ("You shouldn''t grind it until just before you use it.")
The second is the myriad of blends and flavorings possible, as with the coffee from different regions of the world and variations in the roasting process. ("The flavor changes drastically the lighter, or longer, the roast.")
The third is cost.
"You can buy world class coffee for anywhere from $3.50 to $5 a pound on the Internet," he noted. Once the investment has been made in the home roaster, the coffee itself is reasonable. "So if you buy a roaster, you can quickly pay for that in savings and have a nice little hobby ... or passion ... or obsession. It doesn''t have to be rocket science, but it can be if you want it to be."
Dunn recommends Web sites such as www.coffeegeek.com and www.sweetmarias.com as comprehensive resources about the wonderful world of coffee.
"For me," he concludes, with obvious satisfaction, "being able to roast my own coffee is like nirvana."
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.