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Thread: Are supermarket coffee beans really that bad?

  1. #1
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    Are supermarket coffee beans really that bad?

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    I'll just start off my saying that I'm by no means a coffee expert, in fact, I know nothing except for the taste of a great coffee.

    I've noticed that supermarket coffee gets bad reviews on here and people say that they're stale.
    How can this be? How can they sell stale coffee beans? Isn't the way they are packaged the thing that keeps them fresh? I don't imagine that it's ok to sell stale and off foods/drinks.

    Have I missed something?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Magic_Matt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chloe77 View Post
    I'll just start off my saying that I'm by no means a coffee expert, in fact, I know nothing except for the taste of a great coffee.

    I've noticed that supermarket coffee gets bad reviews on here and people say that they're stale.
    How can this be? How can they sell stale coffee beans? Isn't the way they are packaged the thing that keeps them fresh? I don't imagine that it's ok to sell stale and off foods/drinks.

    Have I missed something?
    G'day Chloe77,

    Without waxing lyrical about the history of coffee, the short answer is yes - but most people are satisfied with drinking coffee that is made from stale beans. See also the ongoing popularity of pods, coffee bags and even instant coffee...

    A quick google for third-wave coffee or commodity vs speciality coffee will give you heaps of reading material on the subject
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    Hi Chloe, in my experience many consumers are either unaware of the importance of fresh roasted coffee beans or do not value it as much. Simply press a button on a superautomatic machine and there is your espresso! The truth is that coffee does not readily deteriorate to the point it cannot be consumed anymore, at least not within a year. But fading to the extent of losing the aroma's that make the coffee really worthwhile does happen well within 3 months. Supermarket have different priorities than a shop that has coffee as its core business, and stocking fresh beans is often low on their list.
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    Not all supermarket beans are the same. Vittoria beans are beyond drinkable, the only suitable place I'd put it is the compost bin. Aldi beans are kinda Okish to me. I can't believe they are priced at $11.50/kg.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chloe77 View Post
    I'll just start off my saying that I'm by no means a coffee expert, in fact, I know nothing except for the taste of a great coffee.

    I've noticed that supermarket coffee gets bad reviews on here and people say that they're stale.
    How can this be? How can they sell stale coffee beans? Isn't the way they are packaged the thing that keeps them fresh?
    Even when sealed (and protected from Oxygen), the CO2 and oils (quickly) seep out of the beans in the weeks after they have been roasted. The aroma, flavour, crema is then reduced when the beans are eventually used.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sacsnob View Post
    Not all supermarkets are the same. Vittoria beans are beyond drinkable, the only suitable place I'd put it is the compost bin. Aldi beans are kinda Okish to me. I can't believe they are priced at $11.50/kg.
    The good thing with Aldi beans is they print their best before to the day (ie, 7th September 2018). I've noticed that the increments between best before dates are small (last weekend I looked at all the bags on the shelf and there were dates with 4th Sep, 7th, 10th sep) so I assume they must have an exact time period between roasting day and best before date. This helps to determine the age of the bean.

    The farthest out I've seen a best before date on the beans is exactly 1 year and 2 months with most being a little less downwards to 1 year and 1 month. I haven't inferred anything from it yet (need to keep looking), but I suspect they set their best before date around 1 year and 3 months (or maybes its x days).

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    Quote Originally Posted by stralto View Post
    The good thing with Aldi beans is they print their best before to the day (ie, 7th September 2018). I've noticed that the increments between best before dates are small (last weekend I looked at all the bags on the shelf and there were dates with 4th Sep, 7th, 10th sep) so I assume they must have an exact time period between roasting day and best before date. This helps to determine the age of the bean.

    The farthest out I've seen a best before date on the beans is exactly 1 year and 2 months with most being a little less downwards to 1 year and 1 month. I haven't inferred anything from it yet (need to keep looking), but I suspect they set their best before date around 1 year and 3 months (or maybes its x days).
    Funny you mention that. They used to be 1 year best before from the roast date(at least that's what my palate told me!). However, since many months ago, they've changed that to 1 year x months and I am no longer confident about the roast date. So I also stopped getting them - too risky! Plus, home roasting is more fun and usually (not always!) tastes better. I may get flamed but I do reckon they can be pretty good (in the past at least) if you get lucky with the roast date & batch number. I did note there were some variation in quality (sometimes they're good, sometimes just okay).
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  8. #8
    Senior Member woodhouse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sacsnob View Post
    Not all supermarket beans are the same. Vittoria beans are beyond drinkable, the only suitable place I'd put it is the compost bin. Aldi beans are kinda Okish to me. I can't believe they are priced at $11.50/kg.
    yep. without naming, i've tried a lot of supermarket beans, and they're all bad except for aldi's medium roast, which is half-decent for milk drinks. i even get a good amount of crema out of them (at least in the last few batches), so they can't be *that* stale. doesn't compare to my single origin shots, but fine for guests who 'just want a coffee'.
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    Senior Member coffeechris's Avatar
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    I dont think super market coffee is great, However i base my opinion on more than the fact its not great. I roast my own but that aside, now knowing what i know i would only buy from a roaster locally or someone independent of Supermarkets if i didnt roast my own coffee. The good thing with coffee which surprises me with all the money and power super markets have is that the most of the time your local roaster is going to do it better than the super markets. It will be fresh, there will be variety. Sometimes you may pay a tad more with local roasters, but i would prefer that than giving Super markets the money they dont deserve.

    Chris

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    I have been buying the aldi dark roast beans on and off for a while now. They are no where near what i would consider a dark roast. Always get good crema and chocholate flavours. Not as good as premium beans but certainly very drinkable and good for when a lot of guests come over for coffees. 12 bucks a kg roasted is worth trying in my book

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    I suppose what everyone is suggesting is that the supermarket mass offerings are most likely always past that point of returning a full bodied and flavourful cup of coffee that a freshly roasted batch of beans can provide.

    Interesting that Coffee has a short (@2-3 week) window of optimal freshness and flavour before starting to decline and become stale, but unlike say stale bread they are not considered past prime from a produce perspective with a shelf life and best before dates of 12+ months.

    But whilst they may still 'taste' they will simply not compare to freshly roasted and ground beans. Try it!

    It’s also why you’ll see the recommendation to always grind your own coffee vs purchasing pre ground, but that’s opening onto another (albeit popular) topic

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    Senior Member Crema_Lad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by woodhouse View Post
    yep. without naming, i've tried a lot of supermarket beans, and they're all bad except for aldi's medium roast, which is half-decent for milk drinks. i even get a good amount of crema out of them (at least in the last few batches), so they can't be *that* stale. doesn't compare to my single origin shots, but fine for guests who 'just want a coffee'.
    I’m not coming over to your place for a coffee -knowing I’ll be drinking Aldi beans when you’ve got some SO hidden away in the pantry
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  13. #13
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    Short answer yes......but you could go to a local independent grocery shop and they might sell beans from a local roaster who may know what he/she is doing so there is a chance you will get good beans. The other thing is it doesn't matter how good the beans were when they were roasted if the shop only turns over a batch every 2 months because they will be stale by then.

    Bottom line.......if you enjoy what you are drinking keep doing what you are doing. I personally don't buy coffees from a lot of places especially the chains because I can't stand the taste of them. Sometimes I wish I could enjoy a coffee anywhere i go but I can't anymore so perhaps ignorance is best!
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chloe77 View Post
    I'll just start off my saying that I'm by no means a coffee expert, in fact, I know nothing except for the taste of a great coffee.

    I've noticed that supermarket coffee gets bad reviews on here and people say that they're stale.
    How can this be? How can they sell stale coffee beans? Isn't the way they are packaged the thing that keeps them fresh? I don't imagine that it's ok to sell stale and off foods/drinks.

    Have I missed something?
    Yea, think twinkie vs gourmet bakery pastry and you are on the right track. Both edible, both treats, but OMG what a difference. Doesn't change the fact that lots of Americans eat twinkies

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    For me, it's the local roasters or Chris from talk coffee. They roast well, have the roast date stamped, taste great and supporting the local business. Still much cheaper per cup.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Magic_Matt's Avatar
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    So many great options in north Melbourne - Code Black, Wood & Co, Wide Open Road, Padre... the list goes on!

  17. #17
    Senior Member Rocky's Avatar
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    City folk are fortunate that it is possible to access high-quality freshly roasted bean at will.
    There ARE roasters in country areas but quality varies.
    Buying bean from a favourite local Cafe is the way to go if quality is good and they roast locally but many cafes buy bean from other places and then store it indifferently until they sell it all.
    The freshest and best bean I have had is from Coffee Snobs - even after it has been shipped half-way across the continent.
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  18. #18
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    Supermarket beans, pods and instant coffee are great, that is until you taste fresh roasted beans... Once you have, you start to wonder how you ever drank stale tasting coffee... and then the quest for fresh beans begins and never ends
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    It is all so relative too.

    I visited a cafe yesterday. As I was entering, I heard one existing patron remark to her friend, "Thanks for inviting me here....the coffee is EXCELLENT!".

    I became a bit excited at the prospect of an EXCELLENT coffee...

    ...but it was sh#te!

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    Another nice thing about buying specialty coffee is the people that sell it. My local roaster is a legend and has helped me heaps with my coffee knowledge & skills. It took a few tries to find a roaster that I really liked but his passion and skill are inspiring so it was worth it!

    Also I'm pretty sure he doesn't make money out of me as he keeps giving me his experiments to try and give feedback on. I love it

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    They are not only stale , those hard supermarket beans/rocks can do some real damage to a grinder, they wore the impellar down in my grinder in no time at all. I reckon using them cut it's life expectancy down by half ! (and my life expectancy !!)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rocky View Post
    City folk are fortunate that it is possible to access high-quality freshly roasted bean at will.
    There ARE roasters in country areas but quality varies.
    Buying bean from a favourite local Cafe is the way to go if quality is good and they roast locally but many cafes buy bean from other places and then store it indifferently until they sell it all.
    The freshest and best bean I have had is from Coffee Snobs - even after it has been shipped half-way across the continent.
    G'day Rocky

    Yep, we guys in the city are lucky... As you can see I live in West Oz's Rocky - about 50Kms south of the big pollution (sorry, smoke) of metro Perth. My local roaster (about one Km away) is such high quality I go about 60Kms to W Perth to get a decent roast. Mobs in Bibra Lake (30?Kms away), Vic Park (60Kms) and Canning Vale (another 60Kms or so) are as good, however the varieties are (mostly) less to my tastes.

    Best regional coffees I have had -
    Naked Bean Albany WA - rivals Perth's best, and they used to have Sulawesi Blue - one of my all time faves. Tempting to move down that way and NB is a real bonus for the area.
    Victors - Redmond, Washington State (US) - almost on top of Starbuck's home.
    ??? - Montrose Colorado - a very little town by US standards in the middle / south of the red state.

    The last two showed me how desperate the Yanks are for a decent cuppa - I found Victors because there was a block and a half of "umbrella'd people" standing in midwinter snow, patiently awaiting their fix. I found the "unknown name" one in Montrose by observing a similar "in really, really deep snow queue" - the latter was below 0 degrees Celsius as well. Both of them put the New York and San Fran coffees to shame.

    Unfortunately I know of no "Central Queensland snowless" method for selecting roasters. I guess I would just buy a Behmor and get green beans - the cost difference wold pay for the roaster pretty quickly.

    Luckily for us all, green beans transport well.

    TampIt

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paolo View Post
    It is all so relative too.

    I visited a cafe yesterday. As I was entering, I heard one existing patron remark to her friend, "Thanks for inviting me here....the coffee is EXCELLENT!".

    I became a bit excited at the prospect of an EXCELLENT coffee...

    ...but it was sh#te!
    So relative... I visited a friends place and they asked if I’d like to stay for a coffee, as they had just got a really 'AWESOME' machine. Intrigued, picturing a big shiny Italian import I followed them into the kitchen where a little Vittoria Pod Machine was awaiting us on the bench

    I hope I kept my disappointment from showing
    Last edited by Crema_Lad; 5th August 2017 at 08:53 PM.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Rocky's Avatar
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    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Hi TampIt, I always smile when I see your posts because Rockingham is where the freight company mistakenly took my Diadema when I bought it from Melbourne many years ago.
    Apart from having travelled from Italy in the first place, it would be one of the more travelled machines in Australia, as it is a bloody long way from Melbourne to Rockingham to Rockhampton.

    Crema Lad - You are right, it is relative. I have friends who always order a bucket of Flat white and they think most cafes make great coffee.
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