Does bag size make a difference?

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#1: Post by tazman0020 »

Does a 5lb bag have any advantage over a small (1lb or less) in a home setting (2/3 espresso per day)? I've spent years using 5lb bags from La Colombe. I just felt their coffee was forgiving. I could easily hit my numbers (17g in, 38g yield, 30 sec) and get good flavor even when the bag was 8-10 weeks old, possibly months after the roast date.

I keep my bag sealed in a freezer. My favorite is Louisiane, but I have also used a few others. I was surprised by this post when researching through the posts: Shouldn't I expect fresh coffee from a roaster? My results with them have been consistent since circa 2019, and I had stopped paying attention to the roast date tbh. My last bag has a "tastes best by" date.

Notably, when I purchased small bags in the past, the bag quality was often poor (in the past, hair bender from Stumptown came in a paper bag - I don't think they do this any longer).

Thanks all,

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#2: Post by Bob_McBob »

It's going to depend entirely on the individual roaster and how they bag and distribute their coffee. There is no difference whatsoever at any of the roasters I normally buy from directly. The bulk bags come from the same roast batches as the retail bags and are generally the same style, just larger. I buy bulk bags of coffees I particularly like and transfer them to mason jars to freeze. Standard small bags I just tape over the valve for freezing.

If you're buying from a supermarket, there certainly may be significant differences in freshness between bag sizes for various reasons.

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#3: Post by Jeff »

These days I would say the primary advantage is up-front cost. Most roasters I am familiar with use heat-sealed bags rather than the older roll-top style. With the exception of traditional, Italian espresso blends, time from roast is important. Most coffees blended and roasted for espresso tend to be best within two or three weeks of roast.

Once the bag is opened, these coffees tend to have a limited time in which they are best. As a result, people who buy larger bags often portion it out into week's worth or so and freeze each of the portions. Keeping "this week's" portion somewhere reasonably cool and out of sunlight works well for many people. There are lots of threads on freezing coffee. Small Mason jars for a week's worth or centrifuge tubes for single doses that don't have significant air space are relatively simple options without getting into a vacuum sealer. It may be worth trying out to see if you find an improvement with your coffee.

Edit: I don't think that partial-vacuum or displacement containers are worth it for countertop storage. I believe that a reasonably tight-fitting, sealed container is sufficient. Depending on your portion size, that might be 0.8 to 1.2 L or so.

tazman0020 (original poster)
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#4: Post by tazman0020 (original poster) »

Thanks again.

Agree it is the same coffee. I can't then explain why moving to the larger bag size made such a difference for me. I even once took beans from my favorite shop at the time (BWE Cafe in Newport JC), which came from the 5lb bags, around the time I made the switch. I appreciate the tips on storage too.

I can't seem to find Louisaine from Colombe any longer and I am trying new roasters. I'm presently using Hex seasonal blend and having lots of trouble again.

Grinding produces lots of flaky particles from the middle of the bean. Is it accurate this is not ideal for making espresso?

All the best,

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#5: Post by Jeff »

tazman0020 wrote:Grinding produces lots of flaky particles from the middle of the bean.
I'm not sure what you're seeing. Would you post a photo?

tazman0020 (original poster)
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#6: Post by tazman0020 (original poster) »

Yes. The flakes are what appears in the yellow/gold particles. I don't see this in the La Colombe coffees I have used.


and here


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#7: Post by yakster »

The flakes are chaff/silverskin and opinions vary on the impact to taste from neutral to significant flavor impact. For me, I don't notice a big impact.

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#8: Post by Capuchin Monk »

tazman0020 wrote:Grinding produces lots of flaky particles from the middle of the bean. Is it accurate this is not ideal for making espresso?
This thread mentions a grinder designed to filter those out :arrow: Tree Field double grinder The replies there will give you some insights on those chaffs / silver skin.

tazman0020 (original poster)
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#9: Post by tazman0020 (original poster) »

Impact is the right word. My morning experience with Louisiane vs Hex Seasonal Blend showed that even with an extra 4 grams of coffee and 10 micro positions finer on my Baratza Vario, I am getting way too much yield..

La Colombe Louisiane -
  • 17g
  • 30 seconds
  • 38 grams yield

This is with micro setting M on my Baratza Vario and major setting 1 (most fine).

Hex seasonal blend -
  • 21g
  • 25 seconds
  • 50 grams yield
This is with setting C on my Baratza Vario (burrs almost touching) and major setting 1 (most fine). The images I attached were from this shot.

Are high yields consistent with coffee that produces this excess chaff?

And thanks, Capuchin Monk, for the thread pointer. It looks like even if I did achieve a better ratio, I'd still have poor-tasting coffee unless I spend the extra time getting rid of the chaff.


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#10: Post by Jeff »

Each coffee typically requires a different grind. I tend to consider yield as a target and time as an output. Once close, I'll then tune by taste.