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Thread: Storing beans under vacuum

  1. #1
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    Storing beans under vacuum

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Just sharing my experience with coffee storage. I found coffee goes stale quickest in the hopper, followed by a sealed bag. Even just 1 week old tends to already significantly reduce the quality of the shot.

    So I've been vac storing my coffee for the last year or so in the small vac cannister for Sunbeam vac sealers (comes in 3 sizes, smallest is perfect for 250g coffee).

    What I found however is that cutting off the vac about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way works best (I have LEDs that indicate when it's sort of half way done or something, and I stop it then) - so that I get a pressurised, air tight seal, but there's still some air in there. If I let it run all the way, I'll notice that on the first go, it runs for a long time, and it's sucking air/gas out of the beans that should possibly be there (CO2 perhaps). If I over-vacced them like this, I'd find them to be a bit lifeless. Maybe the pressure forces this air out sooner than it shoud.

    Does this sound crazy or sound from a coffee ageing principle? Anyon else vac their coffee?

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    I always wanted to try out a vacuum storage solution, but have been content with one way valve bags which I'm just re-using. They're the ones that can be found on BeanBay - they're actually really well made in comparison to the paper based ones I've received with previous roast orders from non-sponsors.

    In saying that, I've always wanted to see what they hype is about. Eager to hear what everyone else has to say.

    -Aaron

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    I tend to re-use the one-way valve bags. I just roll the top down and clip it right before the one-way valve is. I also store them in a dark/dry cupboard away from any heat sources and haven't noticed much of any bean degradation. I go through about a kilo in 3-4 weeks I'd say.

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    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    A search of the forum will show that a number of people here have experimented with using vacuum packing over the years and the results they saw.

    In brief, consensus is that using a heat sealed (The Ziploc strip alone does not make an airtight seal.) one way valved bag kept in a cool dark area is the best storage method.


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    I'm thinking more of a short term storage method, practical for daily use, to preserve that "just roasted" feel of the coffee for as long as possible. The heat strip on my sealer isn't strong enough to make an airtight seal on commercial coffee bags, sadly. The zip-loc seals are as you said not air tight, which is a shame.

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    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darkfalz View Post
    I'm thinking more of a short term storage method, practical for daily use, to preserve that "just roasted" feel of the coffee for as long as possible. The heat strip on my sealer isn't strong enough to make an airtight seal on commercial coffee bags, sadly. The zip-loc seals are as you said not air tight, which is a shame.
    As Javaphile says, the subject has been covered pretty well over the years and the consensus has been that "one way valved bag kept in a cool dark area is the best storage method"

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    The one-way vale is to allow escaping gas to exit? Is that just CO2? Wouldn't the CO2 have to build up a bit in pressure to activate the valve? Or do you give it a squeeze every so often to collapse the bag again?

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    Senior Member fatboy_1999's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darkfalz View Post
    I'm thinking more of a short term storage method, practical for daily use, to preserve that "just roasted" feel of the coffee for as long as possible. The heat strip on my sealer isn't strong enough to make an airtight seal on commercial coffee bags, sadly. The zip-loc seals are as you said not air tight, which is a shame.
    If it is really important to you to get the actual seal, you can use a standard houshold iron to make the seal on the bag above the zip lock.
    Alternatively, impulse heat sealers (300mm) that are strong enough can be had for around $30 delivered from a certain auction site.

    I only seal bags that I am sending to other people. For my own use, they just stay in our pantry with the zip-lock closed until we are ready to start using the bag. Then it goes into a clip top storage jar beside the coffee setup.

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    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Journeyman View Post
    The one-way vale is to allow escaping gas to exit? Is that just CO2? Wouldn't the CO2 have to build up a bit in pressure to activate the valve? Or do you give it a squeeze every so often to collapse the bag again?
    You only need to squeeze the bag once to get the air out, when you fill/close it. After that the 'air' in it is CO2 and the one way valve will vent that before the bag pops from internal pressure. Oxygen is the staler of the beans, not the CO2. Hence there is no need to squeeze the CO2 out of the bag.


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    It's been a while since getting truly fresh beans, I get "fresh" ones from the supermarket which are usually about a month old (local roaster beans, sold through the supermarket). So maybe this was affecting my perceptions of the "rapidly downhill" as these were generally only good for a day two after opening packet in any case. Have gone back to a full vac with my actually fresh coffee and it's kept it much like the first day for four days now, full of volume and thickness.

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    Senior Member smokey's Avatar
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    I have been doing some thinking because this is a real issue for everyone keeping roasted coffee beans. Its all about Oxidation.

    Oxygen is a very unstable atom. It has 2 electrons which, instead of orbiting in opposite directions, orbit in the same direction making it quite reactive. When it contacts another atom / molecule it will rip electrons off them. This then makes that molecule unstable. This is the same process as 'free radicals', creating a storm of instability within the cell. Eventually this leads to inflammation and disease - and stale.

    In roasted coffee beans the cells are damaged and therefore very open to oxidation. Water is made of hydrogen and oxygen, as it has the physical ability to soak into the dry bean it attacks /oxidises much more rapidly.

    The 3 things that affect oxidation are the amount of oxygen available, exposure (ground or bean) and the temperature. Warm temps increase the rate of oxidation, and the more oxygen present the more there is to oxidise the cells. Once ground the surface exposure is enormous.

    Thus, to keep roasted beans fresh longer we can keep them cool, away from water/moisture and reduce exposure to air both as a bean not ground and in an airtight bag.

    This won't stop them going stale forever because the oxygen present will continue to oxidise, but slows it down.

    One quick illustration - put metal in a flame and it will rapidly oxidise/corrode once exposed to air and moisture. The same goes with a coffee bean. Hope this helps.

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    Quote Originally Posted by smokey View Post
    In roasted coffee beans the cells are damaged and therefore very open to oxidation. Water is made of hydrogen and oxygen, as it has the physical ability to soak into the dry bean it attacks /oxidises much more rapidly.

    The 3 things that affect oxidation are the amount of oxygen available, exposure (ground or bean) and the temperature. Warm temps increase the rate of oxidation, and the more oxygen present the more there is to oxidise the cells. Once ground the surface exposure is enormous.

    Thus, to keep roasted beans fresh longer we can keep them cool, away from water/moisture and reduce exposure to air both as a bean not ground and in an airtight bag..
    Yes, temperature is a big factor.
    There has been some well controlled trials ( blind tasting etc,.. HB forum) to asses the effects of storing beans in a freezer.
    The conclusion was very favorable with deep freezer storage in sealed, airtight containers seeming to retain the "freshness" very well for several months .
    I have occasionally done this with surplus roasts and been pleasantly surprised with the results.
    Grinding straight from the freezer is also no problem and doesnt impact the result in the cup.

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    I suspect vacuum sealed + frozen would be the best option for long term storage, even though the beans could likely never be used for espresso again, they might be great for an Aeropress. I suspect freezing would greatly reduce the gas release (particularly if beans are already ~14 days from roast) and the vacuum bags should keep air/odour/moisture out. Next time I have some excess fresh coffee beans I'll make up a few little pouches and freeze them and see how I go.
    Last edited by Darkfalz; 30th November 2013 at 09:49 AM.

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    Senior Member smokey's Avatar
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    I think that freezing soon after roasting would be a very good method of storage for long periods, especially as there is near to zero moisture in a freshly roasted bean. Your experience blend52 is just what I was expecting, thanks.

    Things I would be watchful for are:-
    1/ moisture seeping thru the packaging while it is in the freezer - maybe use a frost free freezer and good quality plastic bags
    2/ if you roast and package in high humidity there will be plenty of moisture in the air to cling to the beans while they cool, and there may be some moisture clinging to the inside the packaging
    3/ try to avoid roasting on days when it is raining - again this is to avoid excess humidity in the air that clings to your dry beans
    4/ oxidation occurs at warmer temperatures so freeze your freshly roasted and cooled beans soon after roasting and cooling
    5/ I am a little unsure about resting the beans until they have stopped out-gassing CO2, but I think this is not really an issue when storing for a few months at a time (please correct me if I am wrong)
    6/ a good vacuum seal will remove excess air/oxygen at the very start of the freeze so minimal is left to oxidise while frozen
    7/ oxidation will still occur in the frozen state - but it will be very very slow
    8/ oxidation also adds some of the flavour we like, but we can leave this for when we open and thaw our beans later
    9/ once thawed and brought up to room temperature the oxidation process will kick in rapidly so best to use quickly - the beans may last almost as long as freshly roasted but I doubt it as oxidation has been happening even while frozen, albeit slowly

    I live in Canberra, its nice and dry and we get very little humidity, but when I lived on the coast the humidity, especially in summer, would be extreme on some days, I would avoid those days to roast. I hope this helps.

    Darfalz, I would love to hear how your experiment goes too.

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    Those Seattle Coffee girl did an experiment with frozen beans with fairly good results (look for the redux, not the first one where they don't bother to change the grind, get gushers and wonder why they all taste really sour)

    These vacuum bags (well, it's on a roll, I "roll my own" bags hehe) are supposed to be freezer-burn and completely air tight. I've vac packed coffee before and if it's relatively fresh, the bags always get a bit puffy after a few days. I don't have this problem with my containers though because there's obivously plenty of space for CO2 to go.

    Just had an Aeropress this morning with approx 3 week old beans that were just in an airtight ccontainer and it tasted pretty good, so I might be hard pressed to tell a huge difference from this extraction method.

    I'd love to get into roasting but I have two good roasters nearby (Cosmorex and Jindebah, even LSR if I am desperate), so I can't imagine it'd be worth the outlay at this point.

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    Darkfalz, we are finding some evidence that other people do this with success, sweet. I was thinking again last night, an uncommon habit, and you mentioned it just now and reminded me. The beans de-gass CO2 which builds up and can burst containers and sealed plastic bags, so I use the vacuum one-way valve bags which I save up from my orders of roasted beans, and I also bought some from Beanbay as spares for when I get the Behmor and can roast to my hearts content - then freeze 'em

    You must be a Canberrite as well, Cosmorex, Jindebah and Ona, all excellent roasters, thank the Gods and Goddesses we now have decent coffee in the nations capital

    Just enjoying a Sunday morning with a week old popper-roasted decaf blended with Andy's 'organic espresso' as a latte, and I must say what a delight it is to enjoy real coffee especially when I have participated in creating it.

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    Senior Member smokey's Avatar
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    Just watching the youtube clip with the Seattle girls testing bean storage methods... on the wall behind them is a sign, I want the free puppy!

    "Unattended children will be given espresso and a free puppy."

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    If you stuck them in an air tight bag with no one way valve just after roasting, I'd expect you might get a burst. But I've never got worse than a loosening of the vacuum bag (which, obviously, has specifically "stretchy" plastic to begin with) and obviously didn't vac anything newer than 1 week from roast. From what I've seen the one way valve typically requires some manual squeezing to force air out of it anyway.

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    I had a bag once with a faulty one way valve.
    A week after roasting the ziplock had given way but the heat sealing held firm.
    No burst but the bag was as tight as a football.

    P.S. They didn't taste a week old.

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    My weekly 725 gram roast goes straight into a 1kg one way valve bag, I expel as much air as possible (squeezing by hand) before zipping it closed, the sealed bags shows no signs of inflation, after approx 3 days the bag has expanded quite a bit, however not even close to bursting point.
    Seems to me most of the degassing occurs in the first 72 hours after roasting.
    As an afterthought, cooler weather seems to affect degassing time, roasted my last batch Thursday last week, temp was cool, around 20c, bagged the roast and 24 hours later very little degassing evident, however a day later the bag had inflated significantly, regardless it seems that the release of gas is virtually complete by the end of the third day or 72 hrs, whichever you prefer.
    Last edited by Yelta; 2nd December 2013 at 11:50 AM.

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    Not sure about 72 hours - it could be a bit more, at least for commercially roasted beans. Not sure if they have different standards to home roast...?

    After reading about the one-way bags I went and squeezed the bags I'd gotten recently (maybe 4 or 5 days previously?) and didn't get back to one of them for more than a week - it was still in 'squeezed' condition. Both bags had been partly inflated when I squeezed them, not to bursting but not a lot of crinkle room left. The beans were about 3 days old when I bought them, so clearly they outgassed for longer than 72 hours.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Journeyman View Post
    Not sure about 72 hours - The beans were about 3 days old when I bought them, so clearly they outgassed for longer than 72 hours.
    I did say virtually complete JM, what I am saying is most of the degassing takes place in the first 72 hrs, try expelling all of the gas at the end of day three, then watch the bag over the next few days, inflation will be minimal.

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    I think you should all come clean and admit that they're actually Swedish weeney expanders and the whole idea of coffee is just a lame excuse.

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    Day 3 my time or from roast? I had the impression you are talking about from roast, but the beans I tried it with were 2 & 3 days old when I walked in the shop. They were 'squeezed' when I bought them but they weren't puffed out either.

    Which means I got puffed bags from then up to 5 or 6 days from roast but not much after that. (as in after I squeezed them) I guess it might have happened mostly on the day I put them away as they were not sighted till 3 days later...

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    So I've recently been thinking about a storage solution for my beans as I generally buy around 5kg at a time of Genovese beans. If they sit in the hopper of my grinder for too long they tend to dry out. Considering each bag is 500g I've decided to put some in my hopper, then as many as I can fit into a container that has an air tight lid that sits next to my grinder and I've got a Sunbeam VAC for the rest of the beans in the packet. I will then repeat the storage process for each time a new 500g bag is required. Is this process okay?

    Am I cutting off the VAC too far down? Could this be actually bad for the beans?

    Here is an album of my storage setup: Coffee beans storage solution - Imgur

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    Hi Anthony,

    I'd recommend you buy enough to keep you going for 2 weeks to a month at any time. No storage method will allow you to recreate fresh coffee nor significantly slow the ageing process.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Talk_Coffee View Post
    Hi Anthony,

    I'd recommend you buy enough to keep you going for 2 weeks to a month at any time. No storage method will allow you to recreate fresh coffee nor significantly slow the ageing process.
    I take your advice but is using a VAC making the beans completely air tight okay? Once I open a bag of Genovese I can't seal it again so I have to find some other place to store the beans in the mean time.

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    TC
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    I wouldn't use vac. Buy some ziplock coffee bags and use them. Just squeeze out the excess air and reseal. We have some if you're in Melb.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Talk_Coffee View Post
    I wouldn't use vac. Buy some ziplock coffee bags and use them. Just squeeze out the excess air and reseal. We have some if you're in Melb.
    What about containers? I read that ceramic and glass is best. Apparently metal can change the coffee?

    Also, why would you not use VAC? Is it because it's so air tight that it doesn't allow carbon dioxide and other gases to be released like a valve on a ziplock coffee bag?

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    TC
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    Have a read through this thread for opinions

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    So it seems that ziplock coffee bags along with a ceramic or glass container is a good method of storage. Too bad my Genovese beans don't come in a ziplock/reusable bag. I'm thinking of buying some Proud Mary beans soon so they might and I guess I can just keep the bags.

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    Most of the roasters I've seen provide single use bags that have a valve. If you want the zip-lock types you will need to ask. I'd think Talk_coffee would send them to you if you aren't local.

    I use old Moccona jars for mine. 1kg is just a little more than the 400gm size and I do 1kg in a bit under a month. I store the jars in the cupboard - light isn't good for the beans either. Seems to work well - at the end of the beans I am usually only one notch finer on the grind and still getting decent crema.

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    So I'm using ziplock bags I got from BeanBay when I bought Fiefy's Latte Art organic blend. Now I'm back to using Genovese. Do I need to wash the ziplock bags when storing different coffee beans in them from time to time?

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    No. Just wipe out with a tissue or paper towel.

    Barry

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    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by anthonypiccolo View Post
    So I'm using ziplock bags I got from BeanBay when I bought Fiefy's Latte Art organic blend. Now I'm back to using Genovese. Do I need to wash the ziplock bags when storing different coffee beans in them from time to time?
    Yes. How often depends on how oily the beans are. Oils go rancid and reek. Wiping them out with a paper towel keeps the reek at bay for a bit but as it doesn't get all of the oils out they will eventually need a proper cleaning. Wiping/washing them out with a paper towel with rubbing alcohol works nicely. Using soap tends to leave a smell behind and no one wants that contaminating their beans!

    To reduce the washing interval and extend the life of the bags put the beans in a cheap twist-tie bag before putting them in the zippy's.


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    It can depend on how oily the beans you store in there are.
    Unless super oily, a wipe out as per Barry's advice is fine.
    However, if there is a lot of residue in the bags, a wash (and thorough dry) might be needed.

    Brett.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Javaphile View Post
    Yes. How often depends on how oily the beans are. Oils go rancid and reek. Wiping them out with a paper towel keeps the reek at bay for a bit but as it doesn't get all of the oils out they will eventually need a proper cleaning. Wiping/washing them out with a paper towel with rubbing alcohol works nicely. Using soap tends to leave a smell behind and no one wants that contaminating their beans!

    To reduce the washing interval and extend the life of the bags put the beans in a cheap twist-tie bag before putting them in the zippy's.


    Java "Zippity-do-dah zip-it-up-tight!" phile
    Agreed. I keep a can in the kitchen for storing my freshly-roasted beans. Usually I just wipe the interior with a paper towel, but sometimes when I sniff the can after wiping I detect rancidity, so I wash the can with detergent, rinse with a lot of hot water, and bake in the oven for good measure. Perhaps I should try the alcohol as you suggest, may save time and electricity.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Javaphile View Post
    To reduce the washing interval and extend the life of the bags put the beans in a cheap twist-tie bag before putting them in the zippy's.
    Using a new Small size freezer bag (for 250g Coffee bags) as a liner each time you refill the zipper bag keeps it clean inside. You will find this method as a tried and tested staple method suggested by Thundergod years ago as a means of increasing the longevity of zipper bags. Even if you heat seal the Coffee bag, you can still get quite a few uses out of it with careful sealing techniques.

    GrahamK
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