Fellow Atmos and other air removal coffee storage solutions - are they hurting more than helping?

Discuss flavors, brew temperatures, blending, and cupping notes.
fuzzylittlemanpeach8

#1: Post by fuzzylittlemanpeach8 »

I've recently purchased a fellow atmos storage container, about a month ago. These products are stylish as all fellow products typically are, and have a nifty and easy to use depressurization system for storing coffee beans in a low pressure environment to prevent oxidation. I've seen multiple sources saying these containers are helpful. However...

I'm no chemist/scientist/physicist what have you... But here's what I understand is happening here.

You just got fresh beans roasted within the past week, and you're super excited to try them out. You throw them into the atmos container and ditch the "inferior" bag it came in. You spin the lid (or do whatever mechanism creates a vacuum in your product) and throw it on your shelf.

Now let's look at the beans. Many of us know that fresh roasted beans have a lot of trapped c02 as a result of the roasting process. This is why it's best to brew a week after roasting. Normally, in normal pressure, this c02 would diffuse out of the beans over time. Eventually, oxidation begins to dull the coffee and remove the nice flavors, making it stale.

But now, these beans are in a low pressure environment. All the gasses trapped in the beans are being pulled out of the beans. That includes c02. This happens so much, in fact, that when I first put a fresh bag in, for the first few days, the container loses the vacuum as the beans offgas enoight o equalize the pressure.

Okay, not a bad thing, right? The beans are good to brew with now! You keep storing the beans, setting a vacuum, etc. Each time more gas gets pulled out of the beans. But here's the thing... C02 is (remember, regular non smart person here) non-reactive with the beans. So we're pulling out a high concentration on inert gas from the beans each time it's put in a vacuum. Then, when we open the beans container... We introduce air, which, if I remember correctly, is 21% o2, who is coffees worst enemy. Of course, we then create a vacuum again... But now with a mixture of gasses that constantly introduce more o2. In fact, the beans, if one can imagine then as a sponge, are super dry in the vacuum, and once regular atmosphere hits them, the pressure forces the regular o2 laden air into the beans.

My point is, are we regularly removing non-reactive gas and replacing it with o2? And is that happening to a degree that nullifies or even is larger than the positive effect of a lower pressure environment?

For those interested in this topic, here's a video of a dude doing a very thorough (IMO) and reasonably sound experiment on coffee storage. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TMkDe1XtIM

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Rytopa

#2: Post by Rytopa »

My personal experience with the airscape mirrors your experience. The beans stored in aggressive pressurising and depressurising stale much faster as compared to the normal bags they come in. Try it on a obvious smelling sweet natural, each time you push out the air, you get a nice blast of sweet aroma coming out from the container, multiple times over a few days the smell eventually get duller and duller. Now the same bean in the normal bag opened with the same frequency still maintains the aroma.

My take on such containers is to store beans in them for longer term storage, minimise the opening and closing of it. When needed to take out the beans, transfer them to a normal valve bag and use from there

fuzzylittlemanpeach8 (original poster)

#3: Post by fuzzylittlemanpeach8 (original poster) »

Yes, that was my conclusion as well! Just wanted to see if anyone else feels the same. I tend to get two bags at a time from my subscription, so I'll probably just put the one I plan not to use immediately in my atmos and keep the other one in the bag. And yeah, the aroma definitely hits really strong when the container is first opened over the first few days.

So basically, for beans you're using immediately on a daily basis, just keep them in the bag. For beans used after maybe a two weeks or further out, throw em in the vacuum container.

clc12rock

#4: Post by clc12rock »

James Hoffman did a vid comparing different storage solutions:
Seems like they don't make that much of a difference, but don't seem to hurt either.

Auctor

#5: Post by Auctor »

I agree with the premise that putting coffee into a jar that flushes the air out and opening/closing said jar daily artificially exposes coffee to WAY too much air. I had experience with a VacuVin coffee storage container where I pumped out the air every time, and the coffee went prematurely stale.

As a follow up, once a coffee bag has been opened for the first time (thereby exposing it to air for the first time since it was originally packaged), why are folks okay storing their coffee in already opened coffee bag, as opposed to: 1) Single dosing their coffee into airtight jars; 2) Putting the remaining coffee into a larger airtight jar?

walr00s

#6: Post by walr00s »

Auctor wrote:As a follow up, once a coffee bag has been opened for the first time (thereby exposing it to air for the first time since it was originally packaged), why are folks okay storing their coffee in already opened coffee bag, as opposed to: 1) Single dosing their coffee into airtight jars; 2) Putting the remaining coffee into a larger airtight jar?
Doesn't the James Hoffmann video suggest that simple airtight jars perform the worst in terms of results in cup?

Auctor

#7: Post by Auctor »

walr00s wrote:Doesn't the James Hoffmann video suggest that simple airtight jars perform the worst in terms of results in cup?
I think we might be talking about different things. Further above, fuzzylittlemanpeach8 said this:
fuzzylittlemanpeach8 wrote: So basically, for beans you're using immediately on a daily basis, just keep them in the bag. For beans used after maybe a two weeks or further out, throw em in the vacuum container.
My question was related to this comment. Instead of leaving them in the bag, why not single dose or store in an air-tight container?

To answer your question directly, I've seen very mixed reviews about the performance of simple, airtight containers vs. the Atmos or Airscape. There are opinions out there that suggest that keeping coffee in airtight containers (as opposed to containers using one-way valves) stabilizes the coffee with the degassed CO2. I'm not sure if there's a firm science of airtight container vs. one-way valve. I suspect that roasters like the one-way valve partly because it keeps their bags from bloating up and possibly creating aesthetic and shipping concerns (in addition to the effect of degassing the coffee for quality/taste reasons).

My current best guess to the optimal approach is to store half my coffee in an Airscape for 5-7 days, and store the other half in single-dosed airtight containers for daily use.

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jpender

#8: Post by jpender »

The Airscape doesn't pull a vacuum, it just reduces the volume. It's not substantially different than keeping them in the original bag. The Atmos pulls out only about 1/3 the air, a very weak vacuum, but it doesn't reduce the volume. While the OP's self-admitted simple view of what happens to beans stored in these devices isn't accurate I agree with him that both of them are half-baked solutions at best.

If you really want to be careful bottle everything as single doses. Freeze them. Otherwise you might as well just leave it in the bag, sealed up tightly, and freeze it.

nuketopia

#9: Post by nuketopia »

Illy did the research and found that a slightly pressurized nitrogen atmosphere was most suitable for roasted coffee storage, hence their product in long-shelf-life pressurized cans.

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CarefreeBuzzBuzz

#10: Post by CarefreeBuzzBuzz »

Opening and closing clearly flushes the environment. We opted for a happy medium. With our dosing rack we don't have to flush every day. If we are using multiple coffees I would guess over 7-10 days we open it twice.

Perfection on this topic is not desired in our household as there are to many other factors in play in terms of prep, aging, roast level etc.

The Airscapes we use are excellent in combination with the dosing rack as I can easily get beans out for that purpose.
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