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Coffee Storage


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There's a bunch of people who have experimented with different ways of preserving their coffee on a different board. Now you have to remember that these are real coffee geeks. Here's the typical MO:

  • They are using very fresh roasted beans -- typically 2-3 days off roast if they're buying, or 0 days if they roast it themselves
  • They are typically espresso drinkers, and some of them are professional cuppers
  • They are using whole beans and grinding just before making a shot
  • They would consider coffee ground >15 *minutes* ago to be stale and not use it
  • Most (all?) of them know what their espresso should taste like and can identify faults (esp the cuppers)

They concluded that freezing the beans in an air-tight container with a minimum of air will severely slow down the aging process, including off-gassing. Some are using mason jars, some ziplock freezer bags, and others are using the sealed coffee bags with the airlock taped over. If you bring the beans to room temp in the unopened container, then you will avoid any condensation. They were able to enjoy high quality espresso with months-old frozen beans.

I don't remember anyone using a vacuum sealer, and I would think that you would accelerate off-gassing and leeching of oils/volatiles with a vacuum. Personally, I wouldn't do it.

I've personally tested their conclusion and found it does keep the beens in their zone while frozen. I used both ziplocks and taped-over coffee bags, and the coffee kept for weeks. Once at room temp, I removed from the bag and used it normally. Coffee that went in while still off-gassing started off-gassing once it was defrosted and entered the zone within a couple of days. Coffee in the zone stayed in the zone.

Sorry there was no experimentation with pre-ground coffee. Are you noticing aging effects over those 2 weeks? If not, then I wouldn't change your process.

Edited by daves (log)
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I don't really think it's going to make that much of a difference. With preground coffee, once the seal on the can is broken, you're exposing a vast amount of coffee surface to the effects of oxidation.

The question then becomes, and I don't mean to sound like a jerk, but what's the best way to store almost stale bread?

So, in the fridge, in the freezer, on the counter, wherever, isn't gonna matter much.

Actually, I'd say the best thing to do is to use the full pound of ground coffee immediately after the can is opened, brew it cold, and make an extract. Then you have no worries about the coffee getting staler. Heat up some water and dilute the extract to your preferred taste, and you have fresh, hot coffee easy as that.

However, for a slight investment (say, $20 for a whirly-bird grinder, which is fine if you're doing pour-over drip, not so much for other methods) or maybe $75 for a decent refurb burr grinder, and some freshly roasted beans, you're exposure to good coffee will increase 1000 fold.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

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A customer mentioned a new product to me called the Friis Coffee Savor. Made by a US company, despite its European sounding name, it claims to vent the carbon dioxide that is emitted after roasting. The vents have to be replaced after a certain period of time and there is a date marking system which shows you both when to do so and how long your beans have been in storage.

Any views?

http://www.friiscoffee.com/

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A customer mentioned a new product to me called the Friis Coffee Savor. Made by a US company, despite its European sounding name, it claims to vent the carbon dioxide that is emitted after roasting. The vents have to be replaced after a certain period of time and there is a date marking system which shows you both when to do so and how long your beans have been in storage.

Any views?

http://www.friiscoffee.com/

Yeah - looks like something that's infomercial ready. Just another gadget that doesn't appear to do anything differently than the bags with valves that high-end roasters sell their coffee in.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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I'm surprised that storing coffee beans in a vacuum may be detrimental. I found this information at www.kindredcafe.com/basics.htm:

"After roasting, coffee produces seven times its volume in inert gases, mainly carbon dioxide. As this gas is produced, it binds with and carries coffee oils (and coffee's fresh taste) into the air as aroma (aromatics). This CO2 envelope naturally protects the coffee from oxygen; its taste assassin, however, 90% of this gas is released within 3 days after roasting. After the gas is gone, oxygen readily penetrates and oxidizies the remaining oils on contact. It is at this moment that coffee develops its characteristic bitter taste. It takes five days for all the gas to escape naturally from whole roasted coffee beans. Grinding accelerates gas discharge to 3 hours - due to greater surface area. Brewing accelerates discharge to 15 minutes - heat accelerates the reaction.

The taste of fresh roasted coffee cannot be preserved! The notion that packaging preserves freshness is false! Sufficient gas is produced by fresh roasted beans to explode conventional packaging, hence the popular use of degassing, metal canisters, vacuum bricks, and bags with one way valves. A bitter taste is the first sign that coffee has gone stale! The market is primarily supplied by companies using a centralized roasting infrastructure with distribution times that range from one week (at best) to two months (on average). "

When I open the vacuum canister the coffee certain smells as fresh as the day I opened the Kicking Horse Coffee bag (which is packaged with a vent).

I'll have to try freezing as is suggested and then compare with the vacuum canister coffee....next time I open a new bag.

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"[...]The taste of fresh roasted coffee cannot be preserved!"

I don't know anything about that site, but this statement is simply absurd. It's not magic, it's oxidation: a chemical reaction. It can be slowed to a crawl by decreasing the temperature and/or removing the available oxygen.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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  • 5 months later...
  • 2 weeks later...

I use coffee that has been properly vacuum sealed and frozen and then defrosted to make espresso with Silvia. Anyone know how touchy Silvia is vis a vis freshness of beans and proper grind?

Well, that espresso comes out just fine. 10 day old beans however, stored on the counter in a jar, give her fits.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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