Being lean is more than a business strategy – it’s a lifestyle. It’s a great way to find product/market fit. It’s also the best way to learn how to make the best possible coffee.

Last year, I started roasting my own beans using nothing but a heavy pot on the stove. With small batches using only a half-cup of green coffee beans at a time, I was able to speed my way through many Build/Measure/Learn cycles to arrive at my perfect cup of coffee.

(Ideas) I like coffee. I should roast my own. This desire does not make me a hipster at all.

Build: Put beans in pot. Apply heat. Stir constantly. Fill the house with acrid smoke. Feel bad for housemates.

(Product) I think I roasted coffee. Possibly drinkable?

Measure: Brew and drink ALL THE COFFEE.

(Data) Take tasting notes, noting bean variety and darkness of roast.

Learn: Adjust darkness of roast and variety as needed. Also, open all the doors and windows and turn on the stove vent. And maybe say something about how someone else must have burnt a lot of toast or set something plastic on fire.

Things I learned during the process:

* Raw coffee beans taste terrible.

* The reason I generally prefer as dark a roast as I do when going to coffee chains is because a dark roast easily covers up low bean quality. I roast a lot lighter at home to be able to taste the unique flavors of the beans.

* Different bean origins have vastly different flavors – with pretty consistent themes by region. Ethiopian coffee is almost universally going to be light, bright, and fruity. Guatemalan coffee (my favorite) is all about chocolate and brown sugar.

* Roasting is more about exercising your sense of hearing than of smell. After a few tries you get very good at hearing the difference between the first crack stage (coffee sounds like popping popcorn) and the second crack stage (pouring milk over Rice Crispies) and gauging how long into the second crack you are.

For more detailed instructions on how to roast your own coffee (and a great place to find green beans) visit Sweet Maria’s!

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