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Coffee - Use By Date

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  • Coffee - Use By Date

    At work we have started drinking plunger made coffee. I was skeptical at first but this has been the source of many a fine cup of coffee and is very easy and simple to make. No expensive equipment required.

    Anyway, before Xmas one of the guys bought 250g of Kenyan coffee made by Five Senses here in W.A..

    Chris then brought the coffee in after sitting at home in the ground state after Xmas. We only recently finished drinking it and it was still a fine cup of coffee even after several weeks of sitting in the ground state. I think most of this time it was stored in the freezer. It did clump too but it didnt seem to affect the flavour.

    It has changed my ideas on the importance of coffee freshness, at least as far as plunger coffee goes. Espresso is more tricky as it is expected to produce crema and this definitely goes if you leave the coffee ground for any length of time.

    Grant

  • #2
    Re: Coffee - Use By Date

    We should bear in mind that most "normal" people buy their coffee at supermarkets, often pre-ground, and consume it over the space of weeks.  They never complain about staleness, and all our debates about freshness and crema may be academic to them.

    Where ignorance is bliss, it is folly to be wise.  In fact, life was much easier when i went to the supermarket, bought a brick, brewed 4 cups on my stove-top, and kept them warm in a thermos flask most of the day.  

    There was more bench space. No mess from grinders.

    Sometimes I think I miss that simplicity as my mind tangles in thermocouples, grinder notches, crema. first cracks and the rest of the business.

    Robusto

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    • #3
      Re: Coffee - Use By Date

      Robusto:

      I am enjoying a lovely latte as we speak. This has been produced courtesy of my expensive roaster and espresso equipment. I have to say Im not sorry to have spent the money on this equipment.

      Mind you the plunger is just great and very simple and if I had a breakdown I would be quite happy living on plunger coffee for a few days or a few weeks.

      The other point is that there are excellent commercial roasters out there like Biobeans and Five Senses here in Western Australia and they make great coffee.

      The other thing is that I am starting to be more aware that coffee really does need time to develop its flavour, possibly up to a week to come to full flavour after roasting. Im still working this one out but I think at least three days is a good idea after roasting to develop full flavour. I might even do a cafe day where we roast the coffee for a full week prior to the cafe day just to see what people think of the flavour and crema.

      Grant

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      • #4
        Re: Coffee - Use By Date

        Coffee, like wine, maturing with age, eh. Until recently I was so obsessed with the concept of freshness that I roasted in 250 gram batches to last 3 to 4 days maximum.

        Now, I have given myself some latitude, going for 400 grams to avoid the mid-week roast.

        Since more than half of the stuff goes into caffe lattes and iced coffees where the coffee component is overwhelmed by the quantity and taste of ice cream and milk, the obsession with freshness is not so critical.

        Robusto

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        • #5
          Re: Coffee - Use By Date

          I roast for espresso - I mostly roast blends, for that reason.

          I take the beans to work during the week where we use a combination of a vac-pot (bodum santos electric - magic!) and plunger. Both are great for the morning brew - and the freshness of the coffee means it always tastes better than the local coffee shop anyhow.

          If I could be bothered roasting for plunger Im sure itd be even better, but I agree with Grant that the plunger/vac is much more forgiving than the espresso.

          I roast 500g at a time, and I try to roast at least 3 days before I have to start using it. Although I have had coffee an hour after a roast... and it still tasted better than most of the local coffee shops still!!

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          • #6
            Re: Coffee - Use By Date

            This is interesting. I have heard Andrew Gross say that his beans need to be rested for at least three days. From memory (loosely) I thought he said betweek six and fourteen days was when his beans were at their best.

            Grant

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            • #7
              Re: Coffee - Use By Date

              I remember hearing something about Malabar requiring a longer rest (6 days+). That was more than likely an entirely different conversation.

              Everyone has their own opinion about how long to rest beans, but the general consensus is at least 3 days rest. The amount of resting differs from bean to bean.

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              • #8
                Re: Coffee - Use By Date

                How did you end up getting on with your blend? I remember Paul suggesting that he thought it would get stronger with a few days rest.

                Grant

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                • #9
                  Re: Coffee - Use By Date

                  Its quite a stinger :P

                  It was too young when I brought it, but it settled into something very nice. That is, if you love coffee thats full on, in your face. The blend is like a stick of dynamite, it blows up in your mouth.

                  I cant make another batch of it unfortunately. Ive run out of two beans that make up the blend. Id love to see just how it changes with a little lighter roast.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Coffee - Use By Date

                    Ive found that some coffees need a lot of rest for espresso - Ive had 7 day old ethiopian harrar that was so hard to dial in, because it was still exploding out of the portafilter, full of gas.

                    The taste was really chocolatey, but I noticed that further rest brought out some berry flavours, that were just missing when it was younger.

                    And Ive had a 17 day old kenya, that was surprisingly good! It was stored very well, and seemed very well balanced, but maybe a touch too mild. At a few days old, the same kenya was too acidic for my taste buds.

                    But then, there are plenty of coffees Ive drunk that are great after 24 hours of rest ... its all relative!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Coffee - Use By Date

                      Originally posted by nunu link=1139062862/0#8 date=1139194423
                      Its quite a stinger :P

                      It was too young when I brought it, but it settled into something very nice. That is, if you love coffee thats full on, in your face. The blend is like a stick of dynamite, it blows up in your mouth.

                      I cant make another batch of it unfortunately. Ive run out of two beans that make up the blend. Id love to see just how it changes with a little lighter roast.
                      Certainly does sound good. Looks like we need to organise another CS day for the Sydneysiders. From memory we had a lot of Silvia owners there - maybe we should try to get everyone to bring there machines along and we could have a bit of a workshop.

                      Grant

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                      • #12
                        Re: Coffee - Use By Date

                        What I would give to have Saturdays free...

                        A workshop is a great idea. Would give people a chance to compare surfing techniques, along with distribution/tamping techniques. Sylvia is quite portable compared to other machines *cough* 20kg *cough*

                        I also think those who do home roast should bring some beans in (SO or blend, it doesnt matter). Just have to make sure that you roast several days in advance.

                        Even with a job change, Saturdays will still be a no-go zone for me, so sad. Blame the hospitality industry.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Coffee - Use By Date

                          Hi

                          I also would like a workshop for Sydney Silvias. Id drag mine along with the rocky so that I could get some hands on expert advice. My espressos are coming out OK but I sometimes have variations in taste depending on the many variables involved. We could also discuss some PIDing things.

                          Sat or Sun would be fine.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Coffee - Use By Date

                            Originally posted by nunu link=1139062862/0#11 date=1139266850
                            What I would give to have Saturdays free...

                            Even with a job change, Saturdays will still be a no-go zone for me, so sad. Blame the hospitality industry.
                            Does this also mean Thursday or Friday nights are out? Not too sure of how spread out we are but a midweek night may be workable.

                            Grant

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                            • #15
                              Re: Coffee - Use By Date

                              Friday nights are definitely a no-go too. Oddly enough, my Sundays are completely free.


                              To get back to the topic at hand, I think a use by date is ridiculous for coffee. I dont think there is much of a problem of coffee going off, and not able to be consumed without causing health problems.

                              Having said that, there should be some dates and advisory statements on packaged coffee. Whole beans are fine, and easy to deal with. You should have a "roasted on date", so you can tell if the beans had some huge delay between roasting and packaging (not the normal resting period for beans), a "packaged on date" so you can judge just how long those beans have been sitting in the packaging, and advisory statements stating something to the fact that roasted whole beans have an optimal shelf-life of x weeks or months), for ground coffee, some statement saying that once the packaging is opened, the quality of coffee quickly deteriorates, and it is best consumed as quickle as possible.

                              Coffee is a "food product" and should be labelled as such.

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