Coffee harvest date, how old is too old... even with freezing the beans till roasting?

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Ken5
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#1: Post by Ken5 »

I understand that this roaster freezes their greens when they come in, but not happy about just receiving beans with a harvest date from three years ago this month. Is this an issue?



Back in June I got a bag of Daterra from this roaster that was harvested July/August 2020, so things are getting older.

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TomC
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#2: Post by TomC »

I would call and inquire.

To the best I can recall, George doesn't freeze all his green coffee, just certain exceptional ones that he wants to spread out over time (Mamuto AA), especially if it's smaller lots.

I'd be very surprised to find that he's freezing Brazilian coffee. I note on their site, the current Sundrop is from 2021.
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Nunas
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#3: Post by Nunas »

This is a controversial subject, with various experts providing diametrical opinions, as long term freezing of green coffee is a said to be fairly new thing. One that I trust is Royal Coffee, as they are an importer and roaster. Here's their take on it
Low temperatures can also be problematic. While cooler temperatures for storage tend to be better in general, cold storage, particularly freezing green coffee can present certain challenges. Frozen coffee without proper packaging can grow ice crystals which will compromise cellular structure. Roasters looking to freeze their coffee should vacuum seal it before freezing, and use the coffee immediately after it is thawed, as frozen coffee can lose quality rapidly once returned to room temperature.
The bold emphasis is mine.

Ken5 (original poster)
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#4: Post by Ken5 (original poster) »

Yes... saw that. Can't imagine they are using the wrong dates on their labels.

I also just got their datera espresso and the harvest date on that is 2021. In June the bag I got had a harvest date on that bag is July/August 2020. That that bag has moved in the right direction.

I emailed them a little while ago, waiting for response.

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GC7
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#5: Post by GC7 »

Nunas wrote:This is a controversial subject, with various experts providing diametrical opinions, as long term freezing of green coffee is a said to be fairly new thing. One that I trust is Royal Coffee, as they are an importer and roaster. Here's their take on it


The bold emphasis is mine.
Ice crystals are a critical problem with freezing animal cells that you wish to remain viable. Plant cell walls and no need to keep the little embryo in the seed viable make IMO this a moot point. Royal is wrong on that one.

Vacuum sealing is IMO very important or critical for good long term storage. I have seen no diminished characteristics of a green bean that was vacuum sealed and stored at the bottom of our -20* chest freezer.

Nunas
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#6: Post by Nunas »

Geoffrey, what's your take on the bold passage? To me, this is the critical factor, as the frozen coffee beans would be sent to the end user thawed.

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cafeIKE
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#7: Post by cafeIKE »

Green coffee would be unique if did not suffer from extended time in a freezer and shorter life when returned to ambient like other biologics. I imagine there are ways to freeze that minimize degradation.

It's also quite likely that some fair better than others, as affected by growing location and annual conditions, harvest processing, storage and shipment, etc.

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GC7
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#8: Post by GC7 »

Nunas wrote:Geoffrey, what's your take on the bold passage? To me, this is the critical factor, as the frozen coffee beans would be sent to the end user thawed.
Are they selling unroasted green coffee or green coffee that was thawed, roasted and sold? I would not generally re-freeze any coffee though. Thawed green coffee now has its shelf life activated again. Just my take.

edit. Go and look at the variability in moisture content of coffees and even the same coffee from different harvests. They vary a bit. What's an ice crystal going to do? Look back on the discussions of soaking old beans to "revive" them with more moisture. What's a little ice crystal going to do?

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GC7
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#9: Post by GC7 »

cafeIKE wrote:Green coffee would be unique if did not suffer from extended time in a freezer and shorter life when returned to ambient like other biologics. I imagine there are ways to freeze that minimize degradation.

It's also quite likely that some fair better than others, as affected by growing location and annual conditions, harvest processing, storage and shipment, etc.
You have to take into account the assay that you are using for "degradation". Viability and growth is a very high bar. Viability and correct development of a human embryo is a higher bar still. Your ability to taste florals, fruits and other coffee flavors and aromas is a far lower bar. Perhaps a few exceptional Q-graders might pick out something but I know I can't.

ira
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#10: Post by ira »

I believe that George Howel freezes his coffee at temperatures a fair amount below what home freezers will reach, at least that's what I took away from talking to him about storing green coffee.