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Thread: Coffee bean storage in coffee shops

  1. #1
    Senior Member bennett's Avatar
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    Coffee bean storage in coffee shops

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    This has been bothering me for years.

    Almost ALL reputable coffee roasters I visit, store their beans for sale quite casually either in open containers/buckets or wooden coffee bean dispensers hanging from the wall, neither protected from the light or the room air.

    Now my only possible explanation is that, as they roast daily and probably sellout daily, the beans dont sit in these open containers for too long and in the first 24 hours that probably isnt a bad thing, given the gases emitted from the freshly roasted beans.

    However, what if things are a bit slow and the coffee sits in these containers for 3-5 days, is this still appropriate? Or do they just throw out unsold beans or use for training purposes. Or are volumes roasted, strictly monitored on a supply demand basis.

    And Im not talking about crap coffee stores, I mean almost every QUALITY roaster I visit.

    Is the one way valve bag only appropriate/relevant, once you take them home or after a certain number of days post roast?

    Site sponsors, please feel free to discuss. This is not a name and shame, I am truly intrigued, how as coffeesnobs we can be so fussy once the beans come home, yet coffee roasters can be so casual in store.

  2. #2
    TC
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    Re: Coffee bean storage in coffee shops

    Agreed...

    I dont think it cuts it...

    Dust, kids and their hands, super stale, who knows what else *:-?...

    We roast, pack within 15 min and then ours go in a wine fridge at 18 deg (thanks AndyL for the tip *8-))

    Chris

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    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: Coffee bean storage in coffee shops

    I regularly visit a couple of roasters of note and they dont store the beans in open containers.

    One does keep some in closed plastic containers near the counter for ease of access but these days everything roasted seems to be gone within 24 hours.
    I used to be able to buy beans 7 days post roast but as they have become more popular I can no longer do this.

    I also occasionally visit a reputable retailer who sells from an unsealed display/dispenser unit but I also know that this is topped up regularly through the day by opening sealed one-way valved bags.
    Turnover is such that most beans are there for only a few hours at worst.

    Your observations intrigue me bennett. :-?

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    Re: Coffee bean storage in coffee shops

    There is one new entity in the CBD that has 3-4 varietals in open trays in front of their Syphon bar *:o From a customer show off and talking point of view it is great but from a Snob or a Hygene point of view not a good look even with a high turnover. That same business doesnt do it at any of their locations so why here ???

    The Wine fridge idea seems to be catching on for storage, a few places I know use them while others use plastic bags with most of the air taken out then dispense from there for consumer or to the grinders. Those places stale beans are normally not a problem as most are 3-7 days post roast and you can ask anyway.

    Commercially I buy 500g or 1kg bags one way valved bags for my cart operation so I run with 30 minutes to an hour open at a time and even then the bags are held closed with a peg. Only the minimum quantity of beans in the hopper at once and normally not a even a full bag even when busy. Other bags stored in a cardboard box out of direct heat and sun.

    There is a thread and a poll I started a while back about how do you store your beans http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1234837789 for home storage discussions.

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    Senior Member bennett's Avatar
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    Re: Coffee bean storage in coffee shops

    Quote Originally Posted by 724E5348424354414942260 link=1270600377/2#2 date=1270601880
    Your observations intrigue me bennett.
    The three varieties I have seen are:

    1. Wooden containers hanging from the wall with clear perspex fronts and a handy dispenser chute for the sales team to dispense coffee - this is not a sealed system the top is OPEN to continually top up coffee as required.

    2. Tupperware/plastic containers on the benches with a lid. Again clear plastic. At least this is a closed system although with no gas release mechanism.

    3. Open vats/buckets like a 4 gallon drum, ready to be sold or bagged in one way valve bags. This I have seen when the shop is also the roasting facility on site. I am not sure how long they stay in open vats for awaiting sale or bagging into one way valve bags.

    These are all true observations from my shopping around, and all quality/boutique/artisan roasters.

    I simply wanted to know if this is acceptable given they probably sell out within 24 hours and if not, is it still acceptable.

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    Re: Coffee bean storage in coffee shops

    Personally I dont like the idea of unsealed containers unless it was roasted last night and turned over within 24 hours. Peer into some of these outlets you mention one evening, and in most cases, youll probably see coffee in these open containers. Shops are often hot at night and the odd cockie is there too!

    Ours are packed and sealed within an hour of being roasted. Of course, roast dates are on the packs. They vary - some roasted yesterday while others were roasted two weeks ago.

    Packs approaching 3 weeks are removed from the shelves and might be used for wet sales, depending on how it tastes to me, or I take them home for myself. Most of the coffees I roast seem to taste better to me at around the 3 week mark and beyond.

    What goes in the shop grinders for wet sales varies and todays coffee was roasted on the 22/3, but we started the morning with the Finca La Lia for black drinkers. By next Monday well be using a different coffee that was roasted on the 29/3 and so it goes on. :)

    The aircon stays on 24/7 at 21 degrees and the shop is rehumidfied on the 100 or so occasions a day that the shop door opens.


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    Re: Coffee bean storage in coffee shops

    Good call; great to see people questioning what roasters are doing, rather than accepting their word as infallible.

    I think that the reasoning behind a lot of this is simply visibility and marketing. It is as though people associate coffee in a cylinder on the wall or in an open bucket with the sort of fresh produce that they might see in a market, whilst people associate plastic valve bags with the sort of thing that they might see in a supermarket shelf. Talking to a person who guides you through the coffee on offer, then weighs and bags your selection also conveys a lot more expertise and effort than someone who says "heres one we prepared earlier."

    All of that is a great shame. I think that roasters should feel that they can package their coffee in the way that will make it taste best when it reaches the end consumer. I suspect that that probably involves having the coffee sit in its own gases in an impermeable and valveless container and I would love to be able to do some more experiments on this.

    Storage in an open tub seems to be coming back into fashion and I have to say that I think its a bad thing. That said, from the customers perspective, though, surely it all comes down to whats in the cup at the end of the day? If the best stuff is scooped out of an open vat or nitrogen flushed, who cares?

    Cheers,
    Luca

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    Senior Member bennett's Avatar
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    Re: Coffee bean storage in coffee shops

    Quote Originally Posted by 59405654350 link=1270600377/6#6 date=1270645367
    I suspect that that probably involves having the coffee sit in its own gases in an impermeable and valveless container and I would love to be able to do some more experiments on this.
    Luca, after your post I looked over your blog. Youve cleared up another misconception of mine.

    I always thought that the one way valve was actually good for the beans to release the gases (CO2 I presume) so as not to harm the beans. Are you saying it would be better to store in a valveless airtight system - within reason of course given the pillow effect.

    What Im trying to ask is, is the one way valve simply there to stop the bag from looking like a balloon and releasing the gases is actually detrimental to the beans?

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    Re: Coffee bean storage in coffee shops

    Quote Originally Posted by 78617775140 link=1270600377/6#6 date=1270645367
    Talking to a person who guides you through the coffee on offer, then weighs and bags your selection also conveys a lot more expertise and effort than someone who says "heres one we prepared earlier."

    All of that is a great shame.I think that roasters should feel that they can package their coffee in the way that will make it taste best when it reaches the end consumer. *
    Agreed.
    The first sentence Ive quoted is a perception whether or not there is actually any expertise.
    This is true not just of coffee.
    When I worked in my fathers deli, on many occasions I had just finished slicing some bacon for display and would pop up from putting the piece away when a customer would walk in and ask for bacon. Id reach for the freshly cut bacon and theyd say "Oh no, Id like it freshly cut please". *:o
    Perception at work.

    I also agree its a shame that that perception dictates to some roasters how they should package their coffee.

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    Re: Coffee bean storage in coffee shops

    Quote Originally Posted by 2B2C27272C3D3D490 link=1270600377/7#7 date=1270678822
    Quote Originally Posted by 59405654350 link=1270600377/6#6 date=1270645367
    I suspect that that probably involves having the coffee sit in its own gases in an impermeable and valveless container and I would love to be able to do some more experiments on this.
    Luca, after your post I looked over your blog. Youve cleared up another misconception of mine.

    I always thought that the one way valve was actually good for the beans to release the gases (CO2 I presume) so as not to harm the beans. Are you saying it would be better to store in a valveless airtight system - within reason of course given the pillow effect.

    What Im trying to ask is, is the one way valve simply there to stop the bag from looking like a balloon and releasing the gases *is actually detrimental to the beans?
    I dont profess to be an expert on coffee storage. I would love to experiment more.

    The late Dr Illy contended that storage under pressure improves coffee quality, at least as far as espresso is concerned. Illy certainly think that its worthwhile enough that they store under pressure now and they do show that the distribution of oils within the bean changes when it is stored under pressure.

    Mane Alves from Coffeelab has done a lot of experimentation with different coffee storage methods. One that he did involves valveless storage and apparently keeps the coffee good for up to six months, though as the storage time increases the life of the coffee once opened dropped off. Manes espresso blend was the most delicious thing through the espresso grinder during the week that I did my course.

    One argument that people advance against storage in vacuum containers is that the vacuum shifts the chemical equilibrium in favour of the production of the gases that coffee emits as it ages. If that has merit, then the counter argument is that storing coffee under pressure will shift the equilibrium in the opposite direction - and if that pressure is caused by the very gases that the coffee emits, then surely the emission of each and every one of those gases will be hampered in the same way.

    At the end of the day, all of this requires some taste testing. I know of one roaster overseas that stores its coffee in reusable tins and feels that the lids have to be left off to allow the coffee to develop. When I was working at Veneziano, their blends tended to reach their peak two weeks or so after roasting. This is the flip side of good coffee storage, and brings us right back to the subject of the thread: the fear in this thread is that coffee has aged too much ... but what if it has aged too little? This is a potential problem that people might not appreciate, particularly where they buy coffee from a "roast and post" business.

    If coffee drops in acid and increases in body (to a point, obviously) as it is stored, then this might actually be something that people would like. It might be, for example, that if someone wants to achieve a particular level of acidity and body for espresso, for a particular bean, roasting faster and lighter and storing longer to get to the same level of acidity than a slower and darker roast actually preserves more aromatics. It is yet another variable to play with in coffee preparation.

    So Im pretty keen to experiment. I definitely want to try storage immediately after cooling in something non-porous, with little headspace and no valve. It might be that coffee stored in this way takes a lot longer to be useable as espresso. It might be that letting the coffee sit in an unsealed container for a little before packaging helps to diminish any charry and smoky flavours that the roast might impart. It might be that this all depends on varietal, roast style, the shoes that you happen to be wearing and a million other things. It is yet another area that I would love to have a year or two to dedicate to figuring out.

    Against that background, Ill repeat what I said before: surely at the end of the day, it is all about whats in the cup?

    Cheers,
    Luca

  11. #11
    Senior Member Dennis's Avatar
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    Re: Coffee bean storage in coffee shops

    All nicely said Luca.

    Quote Originally Posted by 554C5A58390 link=1270600377/9#9 date=1270729405
    If coffee drops in acid and increases in body (to a point, obviously) as it is stored,
    I roasted a particular aged bean a couple of months ago and from day 18 through to day 24 it noticeably increased in acidity. It still has me baffled.


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    Re: Coffee bean storage in coffee shops

    Quote Originally Posted by 59405654350 link=1270600377/9#9 date=1270729405
    Mane Alves from Coffeelab has done a lot of experimentation with different coffee storage methods.One that he did involves valveless storage and apparently keeps the coffee good for up to six months, though as the storage time increases the life of the coffee once opened dropped off.Manes espresso blend was the most delicious thing through the espresso grinder during the week that I did my course.

    One argument that people advance against storage in vacuum containers is that the vacuum shifts the chemical equilibrium in favour of the production of the gases that coffee emits as it ages.If that has merit, then the counter argument is that storing coffee under pressure will shift the equilibrium in the opposite direction - and if that pressure is caused by the very gases that the coffee emits, then surely the emission of each and every one of those gases will be hampered in the same way.
    I once had bag with a faulty bag and when I checked on it a week later it had balloned to the point of breaking open the ziplock; luckily it was heat sealed.

    Im the first to admit my palate has a lot of room for improvement but *to me those beans tasted like they were a lot less than 7 days post roast.


    Quote Originally Posted by 59405654350 link=1270600377/9#9 date=1270729405
    I definitely want to try storage immediately after cooling in something non-porous, with little headspace and no valve.
    You can buy valveless bags; I have a few 100g ones if you cant find what you want.



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