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What are the tell tale signs of an aging bean?

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  • What are the tell tale signs of an aging bean?

    There is plenty of talk about how to store beans, but what are the signs to look for when your beans start to age?
    What are some of the visual and gustatory indicators?

  • #2
    The smell changes, hard to describe the change but I feel it's similar to the way the flavour changes. The shot will run faster and tend towards underextraction if all parameters are left the same, so your grind will need to get finer as the beans age. The mouthfeel becomes thinner. When they're getting old the flavours become less vibrant and less complex. When they're getting towards undrinkable there's a sharpness right at the end of the shot, this starts too appear earlier and earlier in the shot and peaks higher and higher at the end. To me this sharpness is what stops a shot being drinkable, the lack of flavour makes it not worth wasting caffeine intake on well before this stage though.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Cremulator View Post
      There is plenty of talk about how to store beans, but what are the signs to look for when your beans start to age?
      What are some of the visual and gustatory indicators?
      Visually! bugger all.

      "gustatory indicators?" the coffee tastes like crap.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by level3ninja View Post
        The smell changes, hard to describe the change but I feel it's similar to the way the flavour changes. The shot will run faster and tend towards underextraction if all parameters are left the same, so your grind will need to get finer as the beans age. The mouthfeel becomes thinner. When they're getting old the flavours become less vibrant and less complex. When they're getting towards undrinkable there's a sharpness right at the end of the shot, this starts too appear earlier and earlier in the shot and peaks higher and higher at the end. To me this sharpness is what stops a shot being drinkable, the lack of flavour makes it not worth wasting caffeine intake on well before this stage though.
        This is a great description, thanks @level3ninja
        Exactly the kind of notes I was looking for to be aware of.
        Cheers!

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Yelta View Post
          Visually! bugger all.
          I disagree here. There are clear visual cues. Fast, thin looking stream during the pour. Little crema. Lack of stripes in the pour.

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          • #6
            What are the tell tale signs of an aging bean?

            Originally posted by herzog View Post
            I disagree here. There are clear visual cues. Fast, thin looking stream during the pour. Little crema. Lack of stripes in the pour.
            I think Yelta is talking about the whole roasted coffee beans themselves. That’s what the question is asking isn’t it (for the visual half of the question anyway)? That’s how I read it as it doesn’t refer specifically to espresso. So I agree with Yelta that visually the roasted whole beans change very little in appearance. Darker roasts around 2nd crack will usually start to show a few oil spots after a few days and these could fade away a bit a week or two later, but they may not either. So the cues really are in the way the coffee behaves after being ground and of course the way it tastes.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by LeroyC View Post
              I think Yelta is talking about the whole roasted coffee beans themselves. That’s what the question is asking isn’t it (for the visual half of the question anyway)?
              I figured they were referring to output since they asked about taste as part of their question.

              I don’t know a lot of people who routinely chow down on whole coffee beans!

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              • #8
                Originally posted by herzog View Post
                I figured they were referring to output since they asked about taste as part of their question.

                I don’t know a lot of people who routinely chow down on whole coffee beans!
                I was primarily thinking of the visual cues of the beans, but the I guess as a result the pour and crema could offer some clues too.
                This is all great opinion, thanks everyone!

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Cremulator View Post
                  I was primarily thinking of the visual cues of the beans, but the I guess as a result the pour and crema could offer some clues too.
                  This is all great opinion, thanks everyone!
                  Yes you won’t see much before grinding the coffee, but once it’s ground you’ll notice a number of differences as mentioned above.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by LeroyC View Post
                    I think Yelta is talking about the whole roasted coffee beans themselves. That’s what the question is asking isn’t it (for the visual half of the question anyway)? That’s how I read it as it doesn’t refer specifically to espresso. So I agree with Yelta that visually the roasted whole beans change very little in appearance. Darker roasts around 2nd crack will usually start to show a few oil spots after a few days and these could fade away a bit a week or two later, but they may not either. So the cues really are in the way the coffee behaves after being ground and of course the way it tastes.
                    Mornin Leroy.

                    Yep! thats exactly how I perceived the question, hence my answer.

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                    • #11
                      Whole beans wise i will suppose lipids will start to come out of them. It’s difficult to judge how old the beans will be thats why there is a use for roast dates indicator.
                      you could do by smelling for hints of co2 from the bag but usually it should be degas from the fresh bag within 15 mins
                      If it’s for espressos, weak crema and thin streams of flowrate will indicate stale beans.
                      brewing will be from blooming, less gases.

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