From our May 2021 Newsletter and in honor of my 40th birthday…
Last month I left you all highly anticipating my first solo roast. Our inbox was flooded, you were all in such suspense.
In September 2020 before the second surge of COVID, Everette planned a 4-day bike trip with a friend traveling from Pittsburgh to DC and then back by train. And he had the audacity to plan to be gone over the entire weekend. Making it impossible to adjust our roast schedule to accommodate his absence.
So it was up to me to forge ahead alone. We generally roast Sunday afternoon and deliver on Monday. Because of my intense anxiety over the matter, we decided to cut off orders Saturday morning so I could roast Saturday. Giving me Sunday as margin in case there was an unmitigated disaster.
Everette left on Thursday, which meant all of Thursday and Friday I had time to let my anxiety and stress rise to skyscraper levels. You see, not only was Everette away physically, he was not even available for emergency questions. He was on his bike pedaling and pedaling, mile after mile after mile, because he likes to punish himself. He’s weird.
Saturday I woke up with a deeper understanding of the phrase “pray without ceasing”; desperately praying that I wouldn’t burn down the house, wreck the coffee or have an anxiety attack.
That afternoon I headed downstairs, bringing Jonathan for moral support and to have someone dial 911. As we tallied up the orders and measured out the green beans I told Jonathan that I was extremely stressed and if I yelled at him it wasn’t his fault. I also reminded him of our fire escape plan.
It was time to start. Before I go on, I gotta get a little nerdy for a minute. The coffee roaster is a fluid bed roaster which means it has a heating element and essentially a blower that moves the beans around to be heated evenly. We also have an exhaust fan that sucks the smoke and the chaff coming off the beans out of the house. Kind of like an overhead stove vent fan. These are both important elements to roasting coffee and they are both pretty loud. I should also add that the likelihood of the roaster or the house catching fire is extremely, extremely low, but anxiety is never rational. My fear of ruining a bunch of beans, however, was definitely legitimate.
Miracle of all miracles I was able to successfully roast all of the coffee orders. Breathing a huge sigh of relief, and collapsing on the couch in exhaustion I gave myself a proverbial pat on the back for a job well done. Girl power and all that.
Later that afternoon as I was chatting with Everette he mentioned another order that came in that he wanted me to do that weekend. No worries. I could handle it, it was just one load, and I was experienced now.
Anxious to get it over and done with, Saturday evening after I put Jonathan to bed I headed down to the basement full of confidence and ready to bust it out. Easy peasy.
What a fool I am.
I warmed up the machine, measured the beans, went through the pre-flight checklist, and started the batch. Things were going fine. Beans were swirling, sensors were sensing, graphs were graphing, all the nerdy things.
Then suddenly the room was filling with smoke! What?! My worst nightmare! There was fire! Frantically I looked all around for the source. Within seconds the smoke detector is going off, and nothing helps you assess the situation calmly like a smoke alarm going off. Turns out there wasn’t actually fire, for some reason the smoke wasn’t venting. Realizing there was no imminent danger I grabbed the box fan we keep for air circulation in a pitiful attempt to dissipate the smoke throughout the basement. Trying to watch and listen to the beans as they were roasting.
A PSA: It turns out 13-year-olds are not at all helpful in an emergency situation. A few minutes later I heard the basement door slam shut. Apparently, the smoke alarm blaring was interfering with his REM cycle. But he wasn’t at all concerned about the house burning down or his mom being in any sort of trouble. I was feeling the love. Once the beans were done and the last billow of smoke released I set about cooling the machine down and airing out the place while having an intense conversation with myself. I used a kaleidoscope of words. Very colorful. Very animated. When the machine was cool enough to turn off, I flipped the switch and breathed in deeply the blessed silence. But then I realized… silence. The exhaust fan outside should have been running, but it was not. Thus all the smoke gathering in the basement. I sighed. I am a modern, problem-solving-business-owning woman. So I hauled my butt outside at midnight IN THE RAIN to look at the exhaust fan. A once-over inspection didn’t reveal any obvious issues so I decided dry daylight would be a better time to solve the problem. So I headed to bed with mixed emotions. I was pleased to successfully roast all the coffee with zero panicky calls to Everette but was disappointed to welcome him home with an exhaust issue to work on.
As usual, things look better in the morning. A trip to the exhaust fan in the daylight revealed a tripped outlet. A quick reset and all was well. I welcomed Everette home and told him he was never allowed to leave on the weekend again. I also had a chat with my son about what we should really do if the smoke detector goes off in the middle of the night.
The saga continues…