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Coffee Beans

March 3, 2004 - Bean Counting

Dictionary.com defines a bean counter as a “person, such as an accountant or financial officer, who is concerned with quantification, especially to the exclusion of other matters.” To bean counters there is no good, only a cost-of-goods.  Of course classical bean counters do not count beans, especially not coffee beans. They probably don’t even drink coffee, opting for water instead. Tap water with no ice cubes in a reusable cup. Probably the cup was received as a prize at the last bean counter convention.

The dedicated staff of edhat.com is very sensitive about bean counting.  If you’ve been with us for a while, you know that we are very much concerned with quantification.  But, we would argue that our counting definitely does not exclude other matters. To further disassociate ourselves with bean counters, we decided that we would actually count beans … coffee beans.  And yesterday we did.

Edhat carries a lot more weight in town since being officially recognized in the Santa Barbara News Press ‘The Dish’ column.  In case you missed the article, Martha Smilgis called edhat.com ‘hip’, and she called our editor ‘feisty’.  With our new ‘celebrity’ status, all it took to procure our beans was a simple introduction and an “I’d like to have a free pound of coffee, please”. The local beaneries were more than happy to oblige.  It turned out that none of them had ever had their beans counted before!

Matt of Santa Barbara Roasting Company (Roco) on Motor Way gave us Paradise Blend, served in many of the restaurants in town. Matt guessed the number of beans in a bag by seeing how many beans it took to get 1/100 of a pound and then multiplying this by 100.  His guess was around 2800.

Janelle at Peet’s thought we would do best with Costa Rican.  People at both Peet’s and Roco commented that the dark roasted coffee would have more beans per pound because the more you roast the lighter the bean gets.

A third bag of beans was obtained at Gallery Paseo Nuevo, who sells Café Santa Barbara coffee, a new brand that is, like ROCO, being roasted right here in town.  We got a bag of Santa Barbara Special Roast in a vacuum-sealed bag.

While acquiring the coffee was easy, counting proved far more difficult. You see, coffee beans are small and slippery.  Oiliness is a good characteristic of beans. It means they are fresh. And, all of the beans we counted were very fresh.  Counting beans is not like stacking nickels.  Beans come in different shapes and sizes; stacking is not an option. We also had to keep track of ones that fell on the floor and were eaten by the dog.

And we had three bags to count.  Amazingly the three bags had almost an identical number of beans.  The average was 3,423. That means there are more beans in a bag then Carl Yastrzemski (6th on baseball’s all-time leaders list) had hits in his career. For those of you not up on baseball history, Yaz played ball in ‘BeanTown’ (Boston).

We get 100’s of contest entries each day, but it seems to Ed and the gang that the same people keep winning! The average guess of all contestants in the edhat “How Many Beans” contest was 1,383. Previous winner PoloLady guessed 3,456 - almost right on the money.  She wins 2 movie tickets and one pound of ABC (Already Been Counted) coffee from the store of her choice. Don’t worry, we washed our hands.

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