As you can probably imagine, we get lots of questions about purchasing, storing and preparing coffee here at The Roasterie. So, we’ve called on our Bean Hunter and tour guide extraordinaire, Paul Massard, to answer some of the most frequently-asked ones. (We also made him pose for a very “smart-looking” picture.)
When thinking about keeping your coffee fresh, you must take into account that the biggest killers of roasted coffee are sunlight, moisture and oxygen. Keeping this in mind, we take extreme measures to ensure that the coffee you receive is at its maximum freshness. The first — and arguably most important — step is that we only roast coffee to order. So, if you place your order on a particular day before noon, that coffee is roasted that day and shipped out that same day. Orders taken after noon are moved to the following day’s production schedule, so they’re shipped as soon immediately after they’re roasted.
Once the coffee is roasted it is then placed into our bags. This is this second step taken to ensure freshness. Our bags are made of a metal film. This film protects the coffee from the three flavor and freshness killers by not letting them in the bag. On our bag you will also notice that there is a small valve on the front. This is a one-way valve and not intentionally placed on there so that you can — while walking down the coffee isle of your local grocery store — pick up the bag and squeeze it to smell the coffee inside. It is there to let the carbon dioxide gasses expel from the bag safely. (Once coffee is roasted it releases two times its volume in carbon dioxide, and if it weren’t for this valve the carbon dioxide buildup would cause the bag to burst open while sitting on the shelf!)
The third and most important factor is that once the coffee is bagged, we use a nitrogen-flush system on before we seal the bags. This system creates a vacuum in the bag, then flushes it with nitrogen, leaving only trace amounts of oxygen (<1% residual level). By using our special bags, and flushing them with nitrogen, we are able to say with confidence that our coffee will continue to stay fresh in a closed bag, up to six months after the “roasted-on” date on the back of the bag. Opening up the bags, however, opens up, well, a whole other can of worms (not literally).
Once you open your bag of coffee, your beans are then again exposed to the oxidation effect of the oxygen in the air. After extensive testing, we have found that whole-bean coffee exposed to oxygen will be completely oxidized and void of aromatics after two weeks, with ground coffee reaching this level in only two days! Knowing this (and wanting you to only ever have the absolute best coffee) we recommend that you only purchase the amount of coffee that you will use within that time frame, as to not let the coffee stale before you enjoy it. After you open the bag for the first time, we recommend keeping your coffee right in that bag —with the air squeezed out and tin tied down, using the tin tie on the bag — or an airtight opaque container. We also recommend that you keep this coffee right on your counter or a cupboard, but away from your stove (keep reading).
We know what you’re thinking: “What about the fridge?”
We often get asked about keeping coffee in the freezer or refrigerator. Our answer to this is always no, the main reason that you don’t want to keep coffee in the freezer or refrigerator is that every time you remove the bag from the freezer and place it back in there, or even open and close the door on the freezer or refrigerator, you’re are changing the temperature inside that bag. That causes condensation to form inside the bag, thus introducing moisture to the coffee, which increases the deterioration.
The second reason you don’t want to keep your coffee in the refrigerator, freezer or next to your stove is that coffee is very much like a sponge; it will absorb any smells that are around it. So, if you keep your coffee next to your onions or garlic it will actually start to taste and smell like onions or garlic. Again, we recommend that you keep your coffee in the bag it came in, with the air squeezed out and tin tied down, or in an airtight, opaque container. We also recommend that you keep that coffee on your counter or in a cupboard. It’s really not just so everyone can see you have exceptional taste in coffee.