Roasted Fresh, Roasted Local at Pie in the Sky
By: Tara Di Giovanni, March 1, 2012
DANIEL COJANU - Pie in the Sky owner Erik Gura shows off some of the bells and whistles on his industrial-grade Probat roasting machine.
As much as Erik Gura is a baker, he is also into mastering old school talents like hen keeping and coffee roasting.
The owner of Woods Hole’s landmark sweet spot Pie in the Sky, Gura goes against the grain of the fast-paced fast-food work ethic that tends to dominate in tourist communities.
For this do it yourselfer, simple pleasures like fresh-baked bread or fresh-roasted coffee beans are not only deliciously desirable, they are within everyday reach of those lucky enough to live near the Water Street bakery.
You might sniff your way into Pie in the Sky when a fresh tray of cookies or popovers come out of the oven, but you can’t forget to pair your tasty treat with cup of home roasted coffee. We’re not talking flash roasted here like Folgers, Maxwell House, or Dunkin Donuts. This is a hobby that takes time and attentive care, and makes all the difference to devoted coffee drinkers.
The best part of wakin’ up…
Curiosity swayed me into watching a roasting session at the store one cold evening after the shop had officially closed. Gura and his partner in roasting, Gray, had surrounded themselves with buckets of tasteless, raw, green coffee beans and were pouring them into the top of a 1,700-pound Probat roaster, which now lives in the shop after a local curfuffle over Gura’s home-based roasting operation.
Gura says the shop goes through an average of 250 pounds of coffee per week, meaning that he and Gray hit the roaster every few days.
“The idea is to have super fresh coffee, just like having fresh bread. We don’t want it in the shop more than a few days at a time,” Gura says.
Throwing you back to the grassroots of roasting for a quick second, I want to hit you with how simple and practical roasting your own can be. To make an individual cup of coffee, the only equipment needed for roasting is fire, a cast iron pan, a handful of beans, and 15 minutes.
However, for roasting larger batches, a shop roaster such as the one at Pie in the Sky will certainly accomplish a more even, efficient roast. Whether the goal is a mild, medium (favored at Pie in the Sky because it keeps that classic taste with most of the caffeine intact), or dark roast, the key rule of thumb is to make sure that the beans are getting an even roast all over.
“It’s like making a tray of cookies. It takes about 15 minutes until they’re just right,” says Gura.
A caffeinated revolution
Pie in the Sky’s coffees are sourced from Dean’s Beans, a Western Mass-based company run by Gura’s friend Dean Cycon, known for his commitment to organic and truly fair trade coffee (just check out a copy of Java Trekker at the shop to find out more).
While many of Pie in the Sky’s coffees are pure concoctions from Ethiopia, Kenya, or Indonesia, others blended by Gura—such as Erik’s Experimental or Ahab’s Revenge—are well worth a try.
The shop sells roasted beans by the pound ($13.99), but transforming an unappetizing green bean into a deliciously roasted batch of sweet relief is something all coffee drinkers should try at least once. If you are interested in trying this at home, swing into Pie for a container of your own green beans. Join the latest artisanal culinary revolution while reaping the benefits of a home-roasted cup of coffee.