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jamichau
Senior Member


Joined: 24 Jul 2011
Posts: 10
Location: USA
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Thu Jun 28, 2012, 6:41am
Subject: Coffee Bean Freshness
 

Hello,

My father-in-law loves his coffee (not espresso) and has his favorite shop in his hometown.  The owner there told him the only way to keep beans as fresh as possible is to store them in a vacuum sealed container and, naturally, sold him one.  I don't doubt that, well maybe a little, but does it make that much difference?  The idea is that "air is coffee's enemy".  The other thing he said is never keep beans in the fridge.  We have always kept ours in the fridge.  I shared this with him from a reply to my first post, last summer:

  • Babbe's Rule of Fifteens:
    -- Green (unroasted) coffee beans should be roasted within 15 months, or they go stale.
    -- Roasted coffee beans should be ground within 15 days, or they go stale.
    -- Ground coffee should be used within 15 minutes, or it goes stale.


I just love that quote.  Don't know why.  Thanks, in advance, for any replies.

-J
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svyerkgeniiy
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Joined: 14 Dec 2006
Posts: 380
Location: New York City, NY
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: (-ish) Bialetti moka pot
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Vac Pot: Yama (large 8-cup)
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Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Thu Jun 28, 2012, 6:53am
Subject: Re: Coffee Bean Freshness
 

Yes, air (specifically oxygen) is coffee's enemy, and so is time-- hence the rule of 15's.  The potential problem with keeping the beans in the fridge is that when you take them out, moisture condenses on them and water-too-soon is also coffee's enemy.

However, I'd have a couple of comments on these.
  • Staleness is not a cliff, it's a downhill roll.  It's a progression.  So if it's one or two over a 15 barrier, it's not much worse than one or two under the barrier.  For example, why 15 days instead of 2 weeks?  Someone shifted the boundary so they could make a consistent rule.
  • "Official" pronouncements like these are advisory guidelines, not thou-shalt-not dictums.  The best way I've found is to experiment, trying one way and then the other.  If I like the results of both, then I can ignore that guideline, or change the boundaries.  If I prefer one result over the other, then I know which way to choose for myself.
  • Another related comment:  coffee often takes a day or several to "ripen" after roasting.  Just-roasted coffee hasn't quite developed all its flavors yet, so the third and fourth days will likely be better than the first and second out of the fifteen.

So now your father-in-law has the ability to test two of these rules: vacuum-vs-not, and fridge-vs-not.  Perhaps he's not so ambitious though... not everyone is at the same level of coffeegeekness.  Coffee should be about discovering and making what you enjoy, not following someone else's rules.

 
Donald Varona
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al_bongo
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Joined: 26 Aug 2008
Posts: 450
Location: Scotland
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Posted Thu Jun 28, 2012, 8:43am
Subject: Re: Coffee Bean Freshness
 

Vacuum packing might be justified for prepacked ground coffee. It sounds convincing anyway and I have no data either way.

Personally don't rate the home vacuum containers. I think they are a gimmick. Every time you remove as much of the air as possible - I question how much of a vacuum they produce -  this is entirely replaced next time you open the container. So rather than leaving your beans in a pool of "stagnant" air you are quite nicely flushing fresh air with replenished oxygen through your beans.

Better leave them alone is my philosophy. If they come in a decent air tight bag (complete with one way valve) from your roaster, that's how I leave them. I don't aerate them by emptying them into an air tight jar. The other draw back to a jar compared to a bag is that you can squeeze the excess air out of a bag before sealing it.
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Worldman
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Worldman
Joined: 16 Nov 2004
Posts: 1,820
Location: Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Expobar Office Control
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Posted Thu Jun 28, 2012, 8:51am
Subject: Re: Coffee Bean Freshness
 

svyerkgeniiy Said:

Another related comment:  coffee often takes a day or several to "ripen" after roasting.  Just-roasted coffee hasn't quite developed all its flavors yet, so the third and fourth days will likely be better than the first and second out of the fifteen.

Posted June 28, 2012 link

A very good post. The "ripen"ing of which you speak is de-gassing. The coffee must be allowed time to give off the CO2 "generated" in the roasting process. To drink the coffee too soon after roasting is a pretty nasty experience. It is said to taste "gassy", the body is thin, mouthfeel off, crema quickly dissipates. The taste is just plain unpleasant.

One day (OK, maybe a day and a half) after roast and much of this is gone...one day later it is nearly all gone.

This is why the better coffees are shipped in bags having a one-way air valve. This allows the CO2 to "bleed" off while keepng the O2 out.

Len <-------- First post in a long time

 
Len
Len's Espresso Blends
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emradguy
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emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,051
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

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Posted Thu Jun 28, 2012, 10:01am
Subject: Re: Coffee Bean Freshness
 

I don't see the benefit of refrigerating.  As mentioned above, it just allows condensation to hit the beans whenever the container is opened to take some out.  Although refrigeration slows staling, it doesn't do it nearly as well as freezing and gives one the false sense they can simply take a small amount of beans out of the container and then return the rest to the fridge.  A good point was made above that this also regenerates the container's supply of well-oxygenated air, which as said above happens whether it's a vacuum sealed container or not, and promotes staling.  

I think vacuum sealing is great...until the container is reopened.  Then you're back to square one...no better than above (IMHO).

I do think freezing is a good idea as one can break down a shipment that can't be used before staling into smaller containers that can be brought to room temperature before opening, so that there is no condensation on the beans.  After filling my mason jars to the rim, I close them loosely for a day (at room temp) before really sealing them down and putting them into the freezer.  The idea is that it (if I get it right) allows the degassing CO2 to drive out the room air that was introduced when I filled each jar. Given I normally use red Bird, I get my shipment on day 3 and break it down right away.  I'm on day 4 typically when I've fully sealed the jars and put them in the freezer.   I always find there's a nice pppffff whenever I open a jar I've defrosted to room temp and I get a great crema with my extraction.  Most importantly, the espresso tastes fantastic!

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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calblacksmith
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calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,734
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
Expertise: I live coffee

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Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Thu Jun 28, 2012, 10:36am
Subject: Re: Coffee Bean Freshness
 

It is better to not keep some things at refer temps. Either room temp or freeze but as with baked goods, the refer speeds up the staling process. Coffee should be at room temp before opening a sealed bag, jar, can or whatever vessel you chose to keep them in. This is to prevent moisture in the air condensing on the beans and getting them wet. If freezing, freeze only once and use all the beans when you unfreeze them.

The home vac/seal machines do a good job and as long as the above is followed, you should be OK. I now use zip top bags and remove as much air as possible before freezing (it costs less) and I have no issues.

Light, heat and O2 are the bane of coffee beans, protect the beans from them and your doing the best you can.

 
In real life, my name is
Wayne P.
Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
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tracerbullet
Senior Member
tracerbullet
Joined: 13 Feb 2012
Posts: 168
Location: Saint Paul
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Thu Jun 28, 2012, 1:19pm
Subject: Re: Coffee Bean Freshness
 

al_bongo Said:

The other draw back to a jar compared to a bag is that you can squeeze the excess air out of a bag before sealing it.

Posted June 28, 2012 link

Are you implying it's a good thing to do this? If so, do you still think it's a bad thing to get the air out of a container? Obviously there are some differences but are they really that different?.

Best world I think would be to draw a vacuum on the beans when you're done with them, then when you want to open the container you replace the vacuum with a flood gas of some sort - ie nitrogen. While the container is open there's still a gas blanket over the beans until you're ready to close things up and draw vacuum again. Kind of unrealistic though for a normal person to bother with.

I use one of the vacu-vin containers myself. In my experience, which must be considered only an opinion of course, bagged coffee on my countertop diligently closed and wrapped with a rubber band lasted right at 2 weeks before I noticed the taste disappearing. I always thought "wow, the old adage is correct, it was 2 weeks". With the vacu-vin I get about 3 weeks instead, when I finally have to put "buy coffee" on my to-do list. I've also noticed that if I get incredibly lazy, it takes closer to a month and a half as opposed to just a single month before the beans -really- go downhill (possibly rancid). This only happens if I have a couple of different bean types (i.e. mail ordered) I'm trying out at once, but I have inadvertently done a very extended comparison.

I can't put any scientific measurements behind it or explain why its a better method, but (again from my experience only) I'm sold on vacuum storage and will continue to do it.
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BeanLink
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BeanLink
Joined: 28 Jun 2012
Posts: 7
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Expertise: Professional

Posted Thu Jun 28, 2012, 1:42pm
Subject: Re: Coffee Bean Freshness
 

Has anyone here actually questioned why you shouldnt make coffee right after roasting?

There is an importer of green coffee In Oakville, Ontario, and I frequent there to pick up beans - he roasts as well, and offered me a pourover with beans straight from the cooling tray. Judging by how he roasts (passing 2nd crack) I knew there would be more roasty flavours, and honestly, the pourover was not bad (his method of pourover was insane too). It was different than what I typically consume but I still drank it.

On the opposite spectrum, I have seen competitions where the participant has aged the coffee for 30 days. Didnt this just happen in the world barista championships? Air can be coffee's best friend or worst enemy, just depends on what you plan to do with it

Most coffee comes with one way valves. Just keep it in that. Eventually the bag will reach equilibrium, but by that point the coffee should probably have been consumed already.

Cool rule of fifteens, and can be a good starting point.

 
Destination Coffee at your Doorstep
www.beanlink.me
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BadElf
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Joined: 8 Feb 2012
Posts: 4
Location: Fort Lauderdale, FL
Expertise: I live coffee

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Posted Thu Jun 28, 2012, 5:18pm
Subject: Re: Coffee Bean Freshness
 

I roast and I have noticed a kind of taste curve that the beans follow. From the roasting day until 2-3 days later, the taste improves, and then it goes very slowly downhill from the peak. Depending on many variables, I think it peaks between 1 and 4 days after roasting. I wouldn't wait 15 days after roasting. I think a week is just about max for good, complex flavor. (IMHO of course. And I'm talking about coffee that's left in my grinder hopper, not resealed in a bag after each pot.)
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,734
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major
Vac Pot: 40s era Silex
Drip: Msl. Com. brewers
Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Fri Jun 29, 2012, 6:21am
Subject: Re: Coffee Bean Freshness
 

There is no hard and fast rule that says you can not brew directly from the roaster but if you want the beans to hit their peak flavor, you should wait a few days for the excess gas to leave the beans. The flavor will get better and better as you get away from the roast until you get to 3 or 4 days, then it will hold for a while and slowly start go go down hill and for espresso, after about 2 weeks you are getting to the end of the peak freshness. Brewed coffee can go a bit longer. Freezing will retard this process and many here do freeze, including myself. I freeze in about 3/4 pound lots, in zip top bags with as much air removed as possible. I find that when I freeze at about 4 days post roast, after a month in the freezer they still brew a very nice cup and last for about 4 days, they may last longer but I use about 3/4 pound in 3 to 4 days.

If you do freeze, do not open and close the bag. You will get moisture forming on the still frozen beans and that is not a good thing. Only open the bag once and then only after they return to room temp  in the closed container. By leaving the container closed until they hit room temp, they come out of the bag just as dry as they went into the bag.

 
In real life, my name is
Wayne P.
Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
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