Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Coffee Storage

The way coffee is stored can make a huge impact on your coffee - but this isn't a paper versus valve bag battle.

Working for a coffee roaster I was able to see many good but also many bad practices when it came to storing roasted coffee in cafes.

I sometimes get calls from accounts having difficulty with their coffee and it is usually due to poor storage.
Most commonly it was left near heat sources that killed the coffee before its time such as in direct sunlight or on a shelf above a toaster/grill.

Another problem is that in summer cafes can get quite hot, especially here in Australia, therefore most cafes are air conditioned, however cafe owners do not realise how hot their cafes can get overnight when the air conditioning is not on.
An espresso machine is like a giant heater and once you add fridge motors it doesn't take long for a cafe to heat up, especially when it's still quite hot late into the night.

At The Maling Room, Andrew used to have his air conditioner on 24 hours a day and even had a second unit installed to cope with the extreme heat Melbourne is having to deal with each summer.
Andrew soon had enough of his crazy electricity bills so looked into other options - wine fridges for coffee, a world first?

A temperature and humidity controlled environment
Good enough for wine, why not coffee?

After hearing of the great results Andrew was getting during the summer of 07/08, Nolan Hirte (ex Liar Liar) paid us a visit and soon after also bought himself a pair of the same wine fridges.

But the correct storage of roasted coffee is not the only issue.
More roasters are considering the impact of proper green bean storage, both from origin and also at their roastery - where I currently work we store our green beans in a basement to keep them in a stable environment.

Vacuum packing and flushing green at origin is becoming more common, some roasters are even air freighting green from origin but what happens to the beans between ports on a ship?
Where on the ship is the container located, is it on the outer side in full sun for the journey or packed further down, surrounded by other containers?

What the wine and fresh produce industries have been using for years are climate and humidity controlled shipping containers, why cant we use these for coffee?
Maybe it's already being done, please let me know if so.

Thinking about this topic it's made me realise how far we as an industry still have to go to provide the best possible coffee for our customers.