Keeping coffee beans cool (not exactly the same old/same old)

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

#1: Post by CathyWeeks »

Ok, we moved into a new house a couple of months ago, and my husband built me a coffeehouse (an insulated, electrified, finished shed) to brew coffee as he (oddly) hates the smell. I'm delighted. I get a wonderful place to brew coffee that is also a nice retreat, and he gets a coffee-free house. Inside is 8' x 10' (2.4m x 3m). So it's very small (I would have liked a bigger one, but I didn't want to pay to heat the darned thing in the winter. So I picked the smallest reasonable size I could get away with.)

Anyway, I have a dorm fridge inside it. It's the smaller size (1.7 cubic feet?), but it's still enormous for what I use it for: a pint of cream, a bottle of cold brew, and a bag of beans in the tiny freezer (for when I run out of fresh beans). I've looked into one of the micro fridges, but they generally only refrigerate to 30F below ambient temperature which is insufficient in the summer. They also seem to be unreliable. I've also looked into specialty compressor-driven items that look like coolers (for hunters and OTR truckers, mostly), but they are very costly, and besides, I own the dorm fridge already, and have no other uses for it.

So, I was wondering if I took my unopened bags of coffee, and did the following:
  • Enclosed them in mason jars, used a vacuum sealer to close up the jar with a gentle vacuum (I have a gauge on my pump so can actually avoid taking it to a strong vacuum, which I know isn't good for coffee)
  • Kept it in the fridge until I was ready to open it
  • Let the coffee come up to room temp before opening, to avoid humidity condensing on the beans
  • Keep the current bag of coffee at room temp (to be consumed in 1-2 weeks)
Would this degrade the coffee?

The fridge is clean and non-stinky, and not used for much, so I don't think smell absorption would be an issue. My thought is that the fridge would be pitch dark inside so the coffee would be stored away from light, and obviously also heat, the jar and the coffee bag would protect from condensation and O2. It would also be a more efficient space usage, since my shed has room for my workspace and a small cafe table and two chairs.

Thoughts? Problem-solving ideas?

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baldheadracing
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#2: Post by baldheadracing »

I keep my coffee in small (4oz and 2oz) mason jars in the fridge. No vacuum, as I couldn't taste a difference between vacuum and no vacuum - that doesn't mean that there is no difference, just that I can't taste any difference over the two-three months that I'll be drinking coffee from a particular roast. (I do vacuum seal green coffee into bags, but there is a lot more moisture and "water activity" in green coffee compared to roasted, and that water needs to be preserved inside green coffee for better roasting results.)

Refrigeration, like freezing, slows down the degredation of the beans; just not as much. For example, if I receive a coffee seven days post-roast and the coffee peaks from 7 to 21 days post-roast when left at room temperature, then I can get the peak to last longer when refrigerated - up to two-three months. Deep freezing would extend that to years, but I have a bar fridge. I could tell no difference between refrigeration and storage in my bar fridge's freezer compartment over three months. Again, not saying that there aren't differences, just that I can't taste them.

The confusing bit to me is when one can get the coffee right after roast. One option is to keep the coffee at room temperature until the coffee tastes great, for example, six days from roast, and then put the coffee into jars and then into the fridge. The other option is to get the coffee into jars and into the fridge right after roasting, and then remove each jar and let the jar sit on the counter for up to six days (usually less days works best for some reason) and then start brewing the coffee. So far, the latter seems to work better, but unfortunately not always, and I have found no pattern as to which works better for which coffees/roasts.

... and then there are those coffees that lose significant flavour if they are refrigerated or frozen. So far, these have consistently been unusually-processed coffees (anaerobic, etc.), but also some naturals - but not all naturals.
What I'm interested in is my worst espresso being fantastic - James Hoffmann

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Jeff
Team HB

#3: Post by Jeff »

If you've got unopened bags that are heat-sealed, I'd just squeeze out as much as you can, tape over the valve, and toss them in the fridge. With luck, there's reduced oxygen in there due to some off-gassing. Even if not, I don't see a lot to gain with repackaging, at least until you're ready to use them. Then, going to tight-fitting, single-dose packaging (50 ml or so) might provide a benefit.

CathyWeeks (original poster)

#4: Post by CathyWeeks (original poster) »

Jeff wrote: Even if not, I don't see a lot to gain with repackaging
I was just intended to stick the unopened bag into the jar as an extra layer of protection. Not intending to repackage other than that. It struck me as quick and easy. :)
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CathyWeeks (original poster)

#5: Post by CathyWeeks (original poster) »

baldheadracing wrote:The confusing bit to me is when one can get the coffee right after roast. One option is to keep the coffee at room temperature until the coffee tastes great, for example, six days from roast, and then put the coffee into jars and then into the fridge.
I almost exclusively order my coffee which is packaged and shipped within a day or two of roasting, which means they usually arrive about day 4, though it ranges from 3-7 days. I keep my current bag of coffee at room temp, so even if I fridge it pre-peak, it'll peak quickly after I bring it out of refrigeration.

I'm glad however, that my ideas aren't just crazy though.

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yakster
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#6: Post by yakster »

baldheadracing wrote:... and then there are those coffees that lose significant flavour if they are refrigerated or frozen. So far, these have consistently been unusually-processed coffees (anaerobic, etc.), but also some naturals - but not all naturals.
I noticed a significant loss of flavor when I froze my roasted coffee of the Uganda Kaproron Sipi Falls Raised Bed Natural Organic Crown Jewel so I stopped putting that one in the freezer. It wasn't the roast as I had filled two jars with the coffee and only froze one of them.
-Chris

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