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Italian Import Freshness?

Postby duke-one on Mon Jan 31, 2011 3:51 pm

KDM wrote:I'd like to try some of the Italian import whole bean espresso but am worried about the roast date or to say it otherwise; how fresh is it? I can get beans from many gourmet roasters in the US within days of roasting, how long have these imports been in the bag?

Here is a reply I got from a US coffee importer, I thought some of you might think it worth reading: (the title of my email was: Date?)

Importer wrote:All Lavazza whole beans blends are vacuum packed, nitrogen flushed, bonded with a one-way valve that allows CO2 (a natural byproduct of the roasting process) to escape the bag without any air coming into contact with the coffee beans, and guaranteed fresh for 2 years from date of roasting. Local "gourmet" roasters can't usually make that claim as they don't package their coffees that way due to the exorbitant cost of the equipment and packaging material. One could definitely argue a week-old, fresh roasted coffee from a local supplier is actually more stale than a vacuum packed blend roasted in Italy 6 months ago. Local roasters usually don't have to worry about that though, since they roast in small batches that get to the customer right away and are used within a few days. But you should not worry about freshness when it comes to Italian roasted coffees, as all major roasters there, including Lavazza, use state-of-the-art packaging techniques to insure their coffee tastes freshly roasted for several months after it comes out of the roaster, and always include a "Best By" date on their packaging.

Hope this clears out any doubts. Ultimately, you will have to try it for yourself, as there are lots of misconceptions out there regarding coffee. ;-)
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Postby Randy G. on Mon Jan 31, 2011 4:04 pm

duke-one wrote:Here is a reply I got from a US coffee importer, I thought some of you might think it worth reading:


Wow! To think of all the time and effort I have put into learning to roast coffee at home... :roll:

TO: Importer
1 - Get a two year old bag of Lavazza.
2 - Open it
3 - Wait two days
4 - Use that two day old coffee to make some espresso
If that coffee is drinkable and does not smell and taste like an ashtray I put it to you that either you have beaten the laws of biological and physical sciences or you don't know what good coffee tastes like.

TWO YEARS!? :shock:

Importer wrote:One could definitely argue a week-old, fresh roasted coffee from a local supplier is actually more stale than a vacuum packed blend roasted in Italy 6 months ago

One could argue that the world is flat or that aluminum hats keep the voices away, but what's the point?
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Postby HB on Mon Jan 31, 2011 4:24 pm

Please note this site does not permit reposting private e-mail exchanges without explicit permission of all authors. Usually I would delete the offending post, but since it raises a question of general interest, I have instead scrubbed the OP and initial reply to remove identifying information. If you have questions/concerns about this policy, please contact me offline.
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Postby Marshall on Mon Jan 31, 2011 5:25 pm

Randy G. wrote:3 - Wait two days
4 - Use that two day old coffee to make some espresso


You're comparing apples and oranges here, Randy. Italian nitro-flushed coffee does, in fact, preserve very well until the bag (or can) is opened. But their packaging methods are designed for a market of busy coffee bars, where the beans will be used within a few hours (or less) of being opened.

To say that Italian coffee is stale and sucks would be to ignore the fact it is what is served at all those Italian coffee bars that both locals and tourists love. It may not be "world's best," but it's not cigar ashes, either.

I would recommend to anyone who wants to try it at home in North America: use it fast!
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Postby zin1953 on Mon Jan 31, 2011 10:43 pm

What I love is
Importer wrote: . . . and guaranteed fresh for 2 years from date of roasting

What sort of guarantee? Is it in writing? Do I get my money back? What are the specifics???

Cheers,
Jason

P.S. Does this mean they'll use Lavazza on the manned trip to Mars?
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Postby Ken Fox on Mon Jan 31, 2011 10:53 pm

We have two issues here which are being conflated into one.

Issue #1: How good was the coffee to begin with, even if it were fresh?

Issue #2: How long will anciently roasted but nitrogen flushed coffee last after the bag is opened?

Mass market blended Italian coffee is exactly what it sounds like; a lower end coffee blend that is made to a price point. The Italians are masters at taking inexpensive coffees and blending and roasting them so that they are "more than the sum of the parts." This does not mean that sh*t magically becomes Shinola, but it does mean that in this genre of coffee they make something that is drinkable out of blend components high end coffee aficionados would turn their noses up at. "Drinkable" does not mean "outstanding;" it means that you can drink it and consider it at least acceptable. Note that these mass market blends usually will contain some robusta, which may aid crema formation and persistence, but at a taste penalty.

Moving on to issue #2, these sorts of nitrogen flushed coffee packs will not last very long after they are opened.

There is really no reason other than economics for buying these coffees, especially when they are old. The further you get from Italy the less compelling the "economic" argument is, since the pricing will increase due to transport and currency conversion factors.

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Postby Marshall on Mon Jan 31, 2011 11:30 pm

Interestingly, on Lavazza's very slick website, home espresso (as we know it) is barely contemplated. They give brewing recommendations for nearly every method except espresso: http://www.lavazza.com/corporate/en/coffeculture/customs/.

You have to go to the "food service" wholesale section to find their whole-bean espresso blends (which come in four regular blends, plus decaf): http://www.lavazza.com/corporate/en/products/hospitality/US/blends/#link_1.
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Postby zin1953 on Tue Feb 01, 2011 11:34 am

EXCEPT espresso?!?!?!?
Image
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Postby Marshall on Tue Feb 01, 2011 12:40 pm

zin1953 wrote:EXCEPT espresso?!?!?!?

I don't know why that would be funny. Home espresso (as it is defined on this forum) is a miniscule business to this coffee giant. Coffee shop and restaurant espresso is their target, which they do very well with, thank you very much.

Next target: India. http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/02/01/lavazza-india-idINSGE71000Q20110201
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Postby Randy G. on Tue Feb 01, 2011 1:55 pm

I refer to the logo above:
Image
Lavazza? Really? I hope that the point of this discussion would be "avoid it" if the above is what we are after ("exceptional espresso").
VERY few of us own coffee shops, and even fewer own them in Italy. A similar small number of us consume an entire bag of coffee in one day.

We might as well be discussing Folgers.. At least it comes in a stay-fresh, resealable container, reportedly scented with artificial aromas so at least it smells fresh... :wink:

Fresh for 2 years? Defending that coffee on this forum seems counter-intuitive to what we are trying to achieve.
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