HOME GROWN

The Weekend Post - Cairns Eye - - Our Cosmetic Team Offer A Range Of Different Treat -

If you are a cof­fee drinker of some sub­stance, have you con­sid­ered the ben­e­fit of grow­ing your own beans? Elim­i­nate food miles and take con­trol over what you con­sume in the way of chem­i­cal treat­ments.

The plant started its world­wide jour­ney from Ethiopia 14 or 15 cen­turies ago and moved into the Ara­bian Gulf coun­tries. Hence the name Ara­bica cof­fee. Cof­fee Ara­bica is a medium-size shrub that has good or­na­men­tal value as a sin­gle plant­ing or as an in­for­mal hedge. Many years ago, the seed mer­chants from Syd­ney would travel north to fos­sick around a few lo­cal gar­dens look­ing for Ara­bica cof­fee seed that was grown quite widely in these parts for some time, and to get the pick of the crop be­fore some­one else did. They all had their se­cret sources and lo­ca­tions. Among them was the fa­mous Roys­ton Petrie who has since departed this life, af­ter which his fam­ily con­tin­ued the seed busi­ness. Alas no more for­ays into the gar­dens of the north for good cof­fee beans. The mer­chants had their favourite spots, as they would only pick and buy seed they knew was vi­able and had a high ger­mi­na­tion rate.

Petrie had worked out a method of har­vest and pre­par­ing the seeds with an­other fa­mous hor­ti­cul­tur­ist of the time, Betty Gib­son, who had a se­cret source of a “good bush”. They would pick the red cherry fruit when it was ripe and soak it in drums overnight, so the skin fell away to re­veal the two some­what creamy coloured seeds. Af­ter this they would fer­ment in wa­ter to get the seeds to a gritty tex­ture and re­move all the mu­cilage.

The seeds were sun-dried and turned a few times a day un­til they were ready to roast. This could take seven to 20 days de­pend­ing on the tem­per­a­ture and hu­mid­ity. Then just be­fore they roasted, they re­moved the fine parch­ment-like skin from the dried beans by rub­bing the dried beans un­der hes­sian on con­crete. Any mois­ture re­main­ing in the bean meant mildew and not a good taste. Then roasting. The oven was set at 250C and the beans spread evenly over trays. The type of cof­fee (light roast, dark roast, etc) was de­ter­mined by the time in the oven. Dark roasted beans can be a bit­ter ex­pe­ri­ence.

Plant cof­fee bushes as an or­na­men­tal plant, of­ten avail­able from good nurs­eries. They like well-nour­ished and drained soils, rea­son­able amounts of wa­ter and blood and bone. Have a go.

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