Keeping Coffee Fresh - An education in coffee packaging
Posted on August 17, 2016
In the world of gourmet coffee, time is the enemy. Because the fact is, the flavor and aroma of coffee begins to deteriorate almost immediately after roasting. So in many cases your coffee is stale before you even open the bag.
The clock is ticking.
Coffee generally lasts 1-3 weeks before going stale in typical packaging. Unfortunately, the sales process takes much longer than that. Many months can pass by the time your organic coffee is packaged, shipped to a distributor's warehouse, shipped again, then stocked on the stores shelves, sold, and finally brought home and prepared.
A widely accepted definition of freshness is difficult, however, because, from a flavor perspective, coffee is constantly on the move. After roasting, two processes immediately begin: (1) desirable flavors decrease (2) undesirable flavors increase. Most freshness standards (and studies) are concerned with the latter process and focus only on a point at which coffee is still acceptable (though admittedly not at its best.)This leads to a rather simple definition of coffee freshness: Coffee is no longer fresh when it is stale.
Modes of Deterioration
A typical 12oz foil package of coffee has 900 cc of volume, of which about 300 cc is gas. If there is 4% or more oxygen present in the package, oxidation occurs and it is enough to render the coffee completely stale, given enough time and thermal energy.
Oxidation obviously contributes significantly to flavor degradation and loss. Ambient air contains 19-21% oxygen and only 14 cubic centimeters of oxygen (or 70 cc of ambient air) are enough to render a pound of coffee dead stale.
The decline of coffee aroma is one of inevitable attrition. The first compounds to be released are the sweet-smelling aldehydes, closely followed by the buttery aromas. Next, the earthy pyrazines take their leave. More of the aldehydes are affected by oxidation, alcohol-based aromas evolve into pungent aldehydes, and the sulfur compounds change their character as the methanethiol oxidizes and evaporates. Green pea aroma and smoky/ash aromas become predominant. As greater amounts of furfurylmercaptan develop, the dreaded and distinct stale aroma is created. Noticeable changes in aroma occur within a day, more obvious changes occur within 8-10 days and 50% of the total aromatics can be gone within three weeks (even in whole bean coffee).
How Laird Superfood solves that problem and preserves freshness.
The most obvious way to ensure freshness is to brew and consume your coffee immediately after roasting. The next best solution is to insulate the freshly roasted coffee from the environmental influences that cause flavor deterioration. Namely, oxygen.
Separation from oxygen is how Laird Superfood can guarantee freshness of its coffee for six months after roasting. The team at Laird Superfood removes most of the oxygen from its packages, and replaces it with food grade nitrogen. Coffee that is packaged with nitrogen stays fresh significantly longer.
Laird Superfood uses some of the best organic coffee beans in the world, but its their proprietary Nitro packaging that allows you to taste the fresh, complex flavors the way they were meant to be tasted. It's an expensive package option, but well worth it for the superior flavor, even months after roasting. Not a believer? Try our coffee and taste the difference for yourself.