Re: Best technique for fresh?
- From: "Randy G." <frcn@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Fri, 30 Sep 2005 16:45:53 -0700
WARNING! NON-SCIENTIFIC OPINIONS AND SPECULATION FOLLOWS:
There is so much contradictory information out there, and much of it
supplied by large bean roasters that little can be believed. With that
established, here is what I have placed into my personal, "believable"
Roasted coffee beans have undegone a dramatic change in state. What
was the natural protection provided by nature is now gone. They are
now in a vulnerable state, and I think that we would all agree on
that. Why they are now vulnerable is not as important as to what they
have become vulnerble and how we can protect them.
Beans go stale once they have been roasted... At least to say, a
process is going on in the bean that we can call staling. Is this
process just an oxidation _alone_? Although that seems to be a large
part of the staling process (oxygen combining with elements within the
bean), the process goes on in the absence of oxygen. To "prove" this,
take some two month old Illy, still nitrogen sealed in a can, and open
it. Make coffee. Tastes OK. In a day or two it will taste just about
the same and just about as bad as as one or two month old coffee. It
hasn't been exposed to air for two months, but the taste would seem to
indicate that it has.
It shows us that a reaction has taken place over that time that
proceeded in the absence of air. Illy packs in small cans that, in
most households, would be used up in two or maybe three days (a
guess), so if you can drink it before it goes completely off, it still
tastes better than Folgers which is made from coffee that is
genetically inferior to begin with. Everyting in coffee is relative,
Your vacuum coffee canister has to be opened each time you need
coffee, and every time you do that it introduces oxygen to the beans
which have been waiting to grab some, chemically speaking that is. The
vac packing will keep the beans for a time IF they are vac packed just
about immediately after roasting, but if they have been given some air
at any time much after that, then the damage has been done.
The other way to slow the process (or nearly stop it) is to lower the
temperature of the beans. A freezer in the home is really not cold
enough to do a lot of good, BUT if you vac pack the beans AND get them
cold you can slow the process down a bit. It would take a serious
amount of cold to stop it I would think. But when you take the beans
out of the freezer to use them you have not only introduced oxygen but
moisture as well from condensation in the air, so this solution can
create two problems.
The final factor is time. Any method can be said to be at least
somewhat effective, but for how long? Freezing can add some time
before the beans make you gag, and vacuum packing will add some time
as well. How much time? I suppose it depends on a lot of factors
including how stale were the beans when you started and how much life
was roasted out of them in teh first place. If the beans were burnt
when roasted (black and oily.. uchhh) then they have little left to
I will offer two solutions for the home user:
First, get small canisters or jars that each hold about one days worth
of coffee. pack them with fresh roast, remove as much of the air from
the canister as possible, and freeze them. Eaach evening, take a jar
out to thaw for teh next day, so that by the morning they have come up
to room temperature. The beans will create some CO2, but that is not a
problem. Yes, the vac may pull the gas out of the beans a little
faster than would happen naturally, but it does not speed the chemical
process that creates the gas. That's a lot of effort and space in the
The second is what I do: If kept in a cool, dark place, in a sealed
container, coffee keeps fairly well for about one to two weeks
(depending on method of brewing, roast level, and bean quality among
other factors). So, roast you own coffee, and each session roast about
a week's worth. By the time it is used up, it is at the end of its
drinkable life and has not gone stale.
Now wasn't that easy.
No, it wasn't- I am not done. One thing left is, your personal taste.
There are some coffees and roasts that aren't even drinkable for some
people until it is about 36-48 hours after roasting. It is possile
that you may like a particular bean/roast when it is ten days old a
lot better than fresh from the roaster. Heck! Starbucks has built an
empire on that principle! SO really, do your own taste tests, and if
you can't tell the difference, choose the one that takes the least
amount of effort!
About one or two years ago I wrote my opinions on this very same
subject, and in reply, by E-Mail I received a rude letter telling me
what an idiot I was (like I didn't already hear that from most of my
family for the last few decades), and it went on to inform me that
that the ONLY enemy of coffee was heat. Sure, you can play a semantic
game and say that if the beans are taken to about 2 or 3 degrees
Kelvin that the staling process will probably be halted completely and
the beans will most likely lose little for a LONG time. I was trying
to be a bit more realistic about it.
In another arena, I was unknowingly served some of my own coffee when
it was about a year old (I had given it as a gift). It had been kept
in a freezer in a baggy. It tasted like the burnt, stale offerings at
so many chain coffee shops. You couldn't have toasted the beans with a
propane torch and gotten more of a burnt after taste to them. Once
again, keeping them cold is not enough.
Randy "gift coffee with disclaimers" G.
"Brett" <no@xxxxxxxx> wrote:
>I've been keeping beans in a vacuumed container. However, the place where I
>buy beans suggested to not do that because air is sucked out of the beans
>and causes them to go stale quicker. They suggested just uses a glass jar
>with the lock and rubber seal. I only keep the beans for about a week.
>Will keeping them in the paper bag they're purchased in be good enough for
>one week or do I need the jar?
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