506 Roasts

Life, Love, Coffee….and everything in between

Month: April, 2012

A Few of our Faves


There are many items Cary and I love and use every day that we thought would make a great post to share.

We both use Keihl’s facial products for our skin care. We love Kiehl’s! I’ve been using their face wash since college and introduced Cary to it in his stocking on our first married Christmas. We both currently use Facial Fuel(Cary) and Rare Earth(Katie). We also love their lip balms. Kiehl’s uses all natural ingredients which is a plus, and working with a Kiehl’s sales person is such a great experience. They are so well trained in the products and stand by each and every thing they sell (you also get fun samples with every purchase, online and in the stores).

Burts Bees we are partial to first of all because it’s made in our neighbor hometown, Durham NC!! Burt’s Bees is affordable, easy to find, and they also uses all natural ingredients. We have a few favorites that we use all the time. I love their Naturally Ageless Line Diminishing Day Lotion, while Cary uses muscle mend for back pain and Beeswax and Banana Hand Creme in the winter when his hands get really dry and cracked. We really have not tried a Burt’s Bees product that we haven’t loved.

A few shout outs need to go to the Seventh Generation products as well as Mrs. Myers. Both companies sell natural, great cleaning and general home products.

So what are some of your favorite “green”, natural, or made in the USA products? We would love to try anything new so please share!!

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It’s Movie Night!

{Courtesy of Mike Rooney Studios}

I thought we would share some of our recent movie picks and all time favorites with everyone today. The above picture is a painting by Mike Rooney of our favorite theater, the Rialto in downtown Raleigh. Cary and I LOVE movies, any kind of movie actually, comedy, drama, documentaries, animated….we just love good movies!! Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all about some movies many may not consider good such as Legally Blonde, Overboard, and The Devil Wears Prada;whereas Cary’s taste leans more towards actual award winning, thought provoking films. Whatever it is, movies are something we love to share together. It is honestly something we look forward to all week, our movie nights and we rarely even GO to the movies!

So with that being said, I thought I would share some really cool films we have watched over the past few weeks and please share some with us. We have an instant Netflix account and always love cool recommenations people have of little gems they have found online!

Fresh, about the good food movement

We watched a documentary this weekend called Fresh, recommended to us by Cary’s cousin. It was so cool because I had recently done some research on a sustainable farm in VA we would like to visit and that farmer was on this documentary. The film discusses so many problems we face today with the growing industrialization of farming. I won’t go into much detail because I believe EVERYONE should watch this movie but it will truly change your outlook on what you eat.

Midnight in Paris

A film we first watched about 2 months ago has become a staple in our household now. Midnight in Paris!!! Ummmm WOW!!! Most amazing film I’ve seen in at least 10 years, I’m serious! I loved this movie and have now seen it about 5 times. The music, the fashion, the comedy, the writing…..just a wonderful, gives you chills movie! If you want a feel good, finish with a huge smile on your face movie, then RENT IT NOW!!!

The Sea Inside

Now for some films we both just LOVE. They may be older but not many people have heard of some and they were just wonderful movies. The first being The Sea Inside. This is a foreign film, so unless you speak fluent Spanish, get prepared to do a lot of reading. An amazing film, get your tissues ready! It’s the story of a paraplegic and his struggle with life. Very sad but gives such an amazing outlook on life and how precious it is.  If you want to see Javier Bardem before he became famous in the U.S., then watch this movie!

Eleven. Exactly. One Louder.

Another great movie, that will make you laugh till you cry, is This Is Spinal TapIt’s a mockumentary of a fake British band. The film follows the band while they are on tour, if you even want to call it that. This movie was written and directed by Christopher Guest who did another film that you may have heard of, Best In Show…also a great laugh.

If you love Barry Manilow, you're gonna love The Insane Clown Posse.

Finally, this one may not be for everyone but check out Zach Galifianakis: Live at the Purple Onion It is mostly Zach Galifianakis’ stand up routine but there is also a fictional brother that makes appearances that are anything but boring! It’s funny, not too long, and a little strange….really great!!

So those are the movies we felt like we wanted to share with our readers! If you watch any let us know what you think. Please also share any quirky, off the wall films with us you have watched that we may not have seen. We are always searching for fun new movies!

From Green to Caffeine

Freshly pulled double shot!

The transformation from green coffee beans to something drinkable is quite miraculous, in many ways comparable to grapes becoming wine.  There are numerous similarities between coffee and wine, however the process of making drinkable coffee is drastically different from wine making.  Roasting the beans is analagous to the fermentation stage of wine making; this is where the magic happens.  The process itself is rather simple, though it depends on many variables, such as bean type, roast level preferred, and how the coffee is intended to be brewed.  A seemingly minor change in one of these variables can have a major impact on the end product.

Unroasted, green coffee beans

For the unfamiliar, roasting coffee is simply turning green beans into brown beans by means of some heat source.  Rather than a technical description of the process I’ll focus on a general outline of how this works.  The heat source can be anything, for instance, simply roasting beans in a skillet works, though the results are far from remarkable.  I’ve roasted beans in everything from a skillet to a convection oven to a homemade contraption made from an old pressure cooker.  With practice, the results can be quite good with some of these methods, though consistency from roast to roast can be a challenge.

One of the most important aspects of roasting coffee is knowing when to stop.  If the beans are under-roasted the coffee can have a very grassy taste, while if you over-roast you simply end up with charcoal.  You can determine roast level by visual inspection or temperature, but one of the most important methods for determining roast level is to listen to the beans.  As a result of chemical reactions, the beans make a cracking sound when they heat up.  If roasted long enough, there will be a first and a second crack.  The first crack signifies what is known as a City roast, while just before the second crack signifies a Full City roast.  French roast is carried all the way through the second crack until the beans are quite dark and oily.

Freshly roasted beans from a co-op in Burundi

You might ask Which roast level is the best?  Well, that depends (a lot) on the type of bean being roasted and how you want the coffee to taste.  Lighter roasts have the potential to bring out more of the bright, flowery tastes in a coffee while a darker roast might bring out the deep, chocolate like flavors.  Some beans are very forgiving with respect to roast level, while others will only taste good on one end of the spectrum.

Vintage La Pavoni Europiccola

Making a great cup of coffee is an art; an art which we sometimes take to the extreme. For instance, we make our coffee in this vintage La Pavoni lever espresso machine! It’s not a pretty machine, but there’s something about the manual labor involved with using this machine that makes the end result that much more enjoyable.

So there you have it; a little insight into roasting fresh coffee.

Trying to be green….whenever we aren’t being pink!

It’s true, Cary lives in a pink, pink world. Any and every pink item I can sneak in I try to, but that’s not what I’m talking about here.

We try very hard to make our lives as green as possible. We buy organic, recycle, compost and now we have added hydroponic farming in an effort to be as green as possible.

Mac Farms in Walton County

There is a small family farm here in Walton County Florida called Mac Farms. Mac Farms uses the hydroponic farming system to grow all their amazing produce.  According to their website: Hydroponics literally translates from Latin to “water labor”, meaning the water is working to bring the nutrients to the plant as opposed to the soil.  In typical Cary fashion we could not just think this was a cool idea or possibly incorporate some hydroponic produce items into our diet, no sir…..we had to start our own!! I have to say this is Cary’s baby, I basically OOOOHHH and AAAAHHH at the unbelievable growth.

Here are some recent pics of the status of our tiny little farm. So far, we have grown beets, collards, romaine lettuce, basil, summer thyme and arugula.  The water contains a nutrient solution from General Hydroponics.

Float system next to wick system

Collards and beets in floating and wick-based hydroponic systems.

The hydroponic systems we’ve been growing in so far have been strictly experimental and homemade, using items we had around the house. The systems are far from perfect, but the results are quite impressive so far.  Now we need some input from you our readers! As you can see we are using styrofoam for our pots and the base which floats on the water. As styrofoam is not environmentally friendly, we need suggestions for other items to use to build a larger scale system so that our system is truly green! All and any suggestions are much appreciated; keep them coming and we will keep you updated on the status!

Float system

Collards flourishing in our floating hydroponic system.

Stay tuned for this weekend’s post about roasting coffee!

Nice to Meet You

Hi! We are Cary and Katie. 

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Before we start, we wanted to share a little about ourselves and why we have decided to start blogging together. Cary and I have been married 6 blissful years. One thing we have learned in those 6 years, and 8 years together, is that life really does throw you a lot of lemons. The saying is really true though that it’s up to you what to do with those lemons, we decided to roast coffee with them! Not literally of course, but we have turned the trials in our life into finding something we are both passionate about and something we can share together. This blog is about our journey in roasting some pretty awesome coffee and what we learn along the way.

Now a little about us…..

Cary Ross is the coolest nerd you will ever meet. He’s a doctor! Earned his Phd last May in mathematics and truly has the coolest job title ever….mathematician! But that’s just the tip of the ice burg with Cary. This guy can do it all. He renovated our historic home. He cooks some of the most amazing food you will ever taste and has a unique way of figuring almost anything out. Cary loves coffee but hates bad coffee. After finding little nooks and crannies around the world with great coffee other’s just didn’t compare and that’s why 3 years ago Cary decided he would just do it himself and never looked back. After many failed attempts and many fire alarms we now share amazing coffee every morning roasted right in our own home because of Cary’s determination and passion for a great cup of coffee!

Now me…Katie. When they say opposites attract I’m pretty sure they hadn’t met Cary and I yet because if they had there would be a whole new category for opposites. First off, I am about as mathematically inclined as a mailbox, probably worse. I’m loud, outgoing, and emotional whereas Cary is quiet, subdued and calm all the time. We definitely balance each other out. When Cary and I started dating back in 2004 I can honestly say I hadn’t even tried an espresso let alone cared about coffee. But after dating and then living with a coffee fanatic I now cannot start my day without it! I’m a self proclaimed coffee snob all thanks to Cary. 

So this is our journey to perfect our coffee and hopefully bring it to the world! Keep checking, we will have a site up and running soon so you can purchase your own 506 Roasts! Until then, this is a little spot to show the world what we learn along the way and hope to hear feedback and stories of other’s journeys too.