Freshness of hopper vs. hopperless

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks for making espresso.

#1: Post by Bob_M »

hi all...i just got a mazzer major and i have a question...i use it in home and make 2 dbls a day...i have heard that not using a hopper is bad because it creates popcorning, especially with big burr machines...i have read on these forums that even using hopperless with tamper doesn't overcome the uneven grinding that goes with hopperless technique...BUT what about bean freshness ??...a hopper certainly isn't airtight...i roast my own beans and roast about every 6 days...will beans stay fresh in a hopper for that long??

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#2: Post by HB »

rlmerriam wrote:...what about bean freshness ??...a hopper certainly isn't airtight...i roast my own beans and roast about every 6 days...will beans stay fresh in a hopper for that long??
Leaving coffee beans in hopper posed a similar question. My response is copied below, to which I'll add that I agree with you wholeheartedly that the grind setting does drift as the last of the beans are finished. For consistency's sake, I would go single dose (grind until empty) or have at least a couple shot's worth of coffee in the hopper at all times.
HB wrote:A day or two supply of coffee beans in the hopper doesn't bother me. Anything more than that, I store in a Mason jar -- either the small 4 ounce size or the larger 8 ounce size if I'm testing. Some members prefer to single dose "hopperless" and I did that at one time. Nowadays I pull 4-6 espressos each session to spread out experimentation over weeks instead of an intense weekend, so I always use the hopper.
Dan Kehn

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#3: Post by another_jim »

The main freshness advantage of going hopperless is that one can clear out the 2-3 grams of loose ground coffee in the grind chamber that becomes part of the subsequent shot when the hopper is on.
Jim Schulman


#4: Post by roblumba »

When I start out with a fresh lb of a new blend, I'll clear out the grinder and hopper. I have my lb split into 6 - 8 ounce mason jars. Then put 2 jars or 1/3 lb into the hopper. Then as the bean level goes down, I add 1 more jar or 1/6th of a lb on top, which is about 3 doubles worth each day. I have zero issues with freshness this way, but I guess it can also depend on your climate and location. My grinder sits in a relatively stable environment. Anyhow, the beans can usually benefit from a little time out in the air and 1 day of air time can be helpful.

I recommend drinking at least one more double shot each day. ;)


#5: Post by zin1953 »

roblumba wrote:When I start out with a fresh lb of a new blend, I'll clear out the grinder and hopper. I have my lb split into 6 - 8 ounce mason jars. Then put 2 jars or 1/3 lb into the hopper. Then as the bean level goes down, I add 1 more jar or 1/6th of a lb on top . . .
How many ounces in a pound? I thought there were only 16 -- how do you fill six 8 oz. jars???
A morning without coffee is sleep. -- Anon.

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#6: Post by cannonfodder »

I think he means the jars have 6 to 8 ounces of beans in them.

I just put a half pound of beans in the hopper and not worry about it. That gets me 2-3 days.
Dave Stephens


#7: Post by CafSuperCharged »

rlmerriam wrote:not using a hopper is bad because it creates popcorning
I use the hopper as a funnel and grind doubles. The amount of coffee varies depending on the kind of beans/blend, and will range between 12 and 18 grams. I pour the dose in the hopper and grind until empty and bang a few times on the grinder (bare hand, not hammer) to get loose grinds out of the chute.
Popcorning inversely relates to bean freshness, in my perception.
In my case, smaller grinder, with my approach, the popcorning is really very minimal.
rlmerriam wrote:what about bean freshness ??...a hopper certainly isn't airtight
So the previous question is not precise - you mean, use the hopper AND fill it with a substantial amount of beans in order for the beans to suppress popcorning.
rlmerriam wrote:i roast my own beans and roast about every 6 days
And as you know, there is a taste optimum a few to several days after roasting. Then there are those who say pre-grinding (additional aging between grinding and espresso preparation) even positively adds to the impression.
rlmerriam wrote:will beans stay fresh in a hopper for that long??
You could maybe replace the hopper by a (cylindrical) tube that you fill - on top - with beans that are too fresh. Now you have an optimization challenge (tube length) in that you want to grind the beans when they are at there taste optimum. Assuming constant use, you will need just to top up with an amount that compensates your consumption of that moment. A regular hopper will have a more chaotic usage of beans so you run the risk if you keep topping up occasionally having rather old beans circulating in it.

What I do?
I buy 2 kilos (4.4 lbs.) of beans, put them immediately in (20) small cubic glass jars that hold 100 grams (3 ounces) each, and immediately into the freezer. Hundred grams equals 7 doubles when using 14 grams per double, or, 1 to 3 days. The cubic shape has more surface than cylindrical or rounder shapes even. Being small jars, they freeze fast, and thaw out very fast.
When thawed, I put the contents of the small jar in a larger one that scoops easier.
Or, nothing special so far.
For a double, I measure two 7~8 gram scoops into a small 58mm diam glass, pour over into the empty hopper and grind into that same glass again. The grinder has minimal clumping, but the flow out of the chute is not constant and I think rotating the glass under the chute promotes more even distribution. I knock the glass on the worktop so the surface evens out and flip grinds over into the PF. Next I wiggle-knock the PF on the worktop a few times so the surface evens out, level with a plastic tamper, followed by the real tamp(er). The plastic tamper has a non-smooth (sort of sticky to the coffee) surface with the effect of sand paper, so the surface really becomes flat. No need for WDT. Mind you the time of the (LM) PF out of the group is minimal and certainly not longer than thwack-thwack chamber-dose into the PF, WDT, etc.
If I flush properly, I will have a god shot - other variables like popcorning are not that important in my perception/case.


P.S. Do you smell that gas too, after you switch on the pump, when the water coming into the coffee starts to push gas out, with a specific odor?

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#8: Post by Elbasso »

I used to put about 125gr of beans into the hopper and refill when the volume was low (30gr or so). While doing this I noticed that I basically had to grind a tad finer everyday to get the proper shot volume. This lead me to believe that the beans were drying out quite fast in the hopper. After about 5 days in the hopper, I had to grind the beans to dust to get 50 ml out of 15gr. At that point the coffee started tasting pretty awfull. Strangely enough, others didn't seem to have this problem. I blamed my grinder for having dull burrs and moved on to the next step.

The next step was to try and preserve the freshness of the beans by using the small jar method. As far as freshnesh is concerned the jars work really well. But now I started experiencing popcorning because I wanted to empty the hopper before opening a new jar. The problem with the popcorning is that it clearly leaves you with an uneven grind. This became apparent when I noticed that I had to tighten my grind with about 4 notches on my Mazzer mini to get a good shot. Also the volume was compromised by the popcorning.

Somewhere in the midst of all this I bought a bottomless PF. I didn't expect to get much feedback from it cause I was an experienced, distributing and tamping genius ............................... I thought. Boy, was I wrong. The bottomless PF revealed an uneven distribution followed by a canted tamp. During the first pours the number of visible channels could rival Venice.

Now I started wondering if my awful technique could have had an impact on my dry beans in the hopper experiences. The answer was yes. Of course the beans loose some oils and volatile flavours while being exposed to oxygen and humidity. But, the resulting effects were magnified by the user generated, uneven extractions.

With the above in mind my current approach is as follows: divide the freshly roasted beans in portions I consume in three days. I consume about 30gr per day so I use 90gr jars. Put one portion in the hopper, the rest in the jars. Put the jars in the freezer. After two days, when there's only one day (30gr) left of beans in the hopper, pull a jar of super fresh beans from the freezer and throw it in the hopper. These beans will then have one and a half day to "age" before they get ground up. With this approach I don't get stale beans in the hopper nor popcorning because there will at least be 30gr of beans in the hopper at all times. This really does the trick for me. I hope it can help some of you as well. (Of course the above doesn't work if you consume less than two doubles a day)

Thanks CafSuperCharged for putting me on the jar-path :D


Creativity is the sudden cessation of stupidity.

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#9: Post by woodchuck »

Not so measured as some of the members here. For my regular grind I split a pound into three mason jars. They go into the freezer until I'm ready for them. When the level gets down to about an inch above the throat of the grinder I throw the next jar's worth in. I go through at least a pound in a week so things stay pretty fresh. I also have a hand grinder that I use for trying out coffees not on my regular rotation. I just keep them in the freezer until I need them and then grind the shot.



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#10: Post by sweaner »

zin1953 wrote:How many ounces in a pound? I thought there were only 16 -- how do you fill six 8 oz. jars???
I believe he puts 1/6 of a pound in 6 jars...they happen to be 8 ounce jars.
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