HomeRoast Digest


Topic: Aged vs. Old--Fodder for discussion (26 msgs / 1000 lines)
1) From: Ed Needham
I'm going to go out on a limb here and speculate what the differences from a 
'beans eye view' might be between finely aged beans and just old, past crop 
beans.
First, a bit of history as I understand it.
It seems that coffees being shipped to the Americas had to endure quite a 
bit of abuse as they traveled in the hold of a ship for sometimes months at 
a time.  Sailing ships were at the whim of the currents and the time between 
departure and arrival could vary sometimes as much as three months.  A real 
bummer for the living crew, but pretty traumatizing to the beans trapped in 
the bowels of the ship, going between freezing and sweltering, salty, humid 
extremes.  Surprisingly, the coffees arrived and had a characteristic taste 
that many try to duplicate today with aging and monsooning.
Now, that's my understanding of the 'market' and how we got to the point of 
treasuring aged or monsooned coffees (quite a bit of difference between the 
two, I know).
I'm going to assume that the living coffee seed really gets it's jollies 
from hot, humid air, as long as there is adequate ventilation to keep it 
from molding or developing other rot or musty characteristics.  Might even 
get a little malting going on if left long enough.  Malting, by the way, is 
where the seed actually begins the process of sprouting, which also has a 
wonderful side effect of letting the starches turn to a more sugary 
substance.  Wonderful for barley and beer.  Maybe similar with 'properly 
'aged' coffee seeds, er, I mean beans.  For the most part though, we have 
vegetable material, lots of internal bean moisture, and for all but the 
beans near the outer parts of the burlap bag, a general lack of air flow. 
Add to that the conditions of sitting in a standard 'container' which is 
basically the rear end of a semi truck, and you have what could be a recipe 
for disaster.  100F+ days down near the equator, where many of the shipments 
originate.  OK, 'all' originate from within 20 degrees north or south of the 
equator.  Very dry heat much of the time, but add tons of coffee beans at 
12- 13 percent moisture level in an enclosed container, sitting for maybe 
weeks on a shipping dock waiting for labor squabbles to be resolved, and I'm 
thinking 'major condensation' inside the container.  Seems like it could 
make for nasty fungus and mold to me.  Not likely to get 'aged' coffee from 
that shipment.
Another scenario might be that the beans are relatively intact upon arrival 
in the US, and promptly go into a warehouse, where they may sit for a year 
or more due to problems with supply and demand.  Is that 'aged' coffee?  I 
doubt it.  More likely, the beans near the outside of the bag dry out, and 
pick up whatever environmental smells, or particulate contaminants might be 
present in that warehouse, while the internal beans get old and musty.  Old, 
baggy coffee.
So, to properly age coffee beans, I'd guess that the proper beans would have 
to be selected first.  It's likely that some beans would age better than 
others.  Sumatra seems to be one of the best.  Next, the proper clean air 
environment (lets avoid exhaust fumes from constantly running fork lifts in 
an enclosed space, and forest fires, or other pollutants).  I would imagine 
that the beans would have to have a certain level of airflow and bean 
agitation, along with a humidity level that would not significantly dry the 
beans, or cause them to rot with fungus.  Maybe keep the beans stored to 
minimize the differences between beans at the center of the bag and those 
near the outside.  Re-bagging them on a regular basis might be a headache, 
but would help relieve that problem.  A mechanical way to achieve the same 
result might work too.  Frequent sampling to determine when they beans are 
at their peak of 'aged' flavor would be nice.  And shipping to assure all 
the hard work is not destroyed in the last stage, on the way to the roaster.
Take this as fodder for discussion.  I'm not taking any kind of expert stand 
here, just random thoughts, thinking like a bean.
*********************
Ed Needham
"to absurdity and beyond!"
ed at homeroaster dot com
(include [FRIEND] somewhere in the subject line of any email correspondence)
*********************

2) From: tom ulmer
Well, sir, it's hard to banter the subject about when you present your
premise so logically and completely. I can find no faults or holes in your
hypothesis. So, how do we take this from well postulated thought and prove
this theorem?
Cheers...

3) From: Ed Needham
I figure it's already a well thought out process ...somewhere.
Now where?
*********************
Ed Needham
"to absurdity and beyond!"
ed at homeroaster dot com
(include [FRIEND] somewhere in the subject line of any email correspondence)
*********************

4) From: Spencer Thomas
On 29/11/05, Ed Needham  wrote:
<Snip>
Is there?  I thought the process (at least from the bean's
perspective) was similar in both cases.
--
=Spencer in Ann Arbor
My Unitarian Jihad http://tinyurl.com/6valr)Name is:
Sibling Dagger of Mild Reason
What are you?http://homepage.mac.com/whump/ujname.html

5) From: tom ulmer

6) From: Nelson, Frank
I like the idea of aged coffee being similar to malting barley.
Here is a link I found with a simple diagram of the malting process:http://www.crc.dk/flab/malting.htmI'm going to assume that the living coffee seed really gets it's jollies
from hot, humid air, as long as there is adequate ventilation to keep it
from molding or developing other rot or musty characteristics.  Might
even 
get a little malting going on if left long enough.  Malting, by the way,
is 
where the seed actually begins the process of sprouting, which also has
a 
wonderful side effect of letting the starches turn to a more sugary 
substance.  Wonderful for barley and beer.  Maybe similar with 'properly
'aged' coffee seeds, er, I mean beans.
I tried to look up the characteristics of an aged and unaged coffee from
the same reason to see if the aged coffee takes on oxidated properties.
Speaking from a beer and wine perspective, when you age either of these
beverages which should be aged (not all beer and wine is meant for
aging) you lose certain fruit and high aromatic qualities while gaining
other qualities.  For example what may be plum flavors in a young wine
turn to prune flavors in an older wine, you could also get the mellowing
or balancing of high acid/ tannins with the sweeter flavors of age.
Just adding what I know a little about.
I think an interesting experiment would be to try a simple setup similar
to the one diagramed for malting barley with modifications to the times
at the various stages and heat applied in the final stage.  I think the
fluidity and spreading out of the bean mass is probably crucial at
certain stages.
Just some additional thoughts,
Frank

7) From: Justin Marquez
On 11/29/05, Nelson, Frank  wrote:
<Snip>
Howdy, Frank!
I seem to recall seeing somewhere last year that green coffee beans as we
receive them (i.e., after processing operations) were no longer viable to
germinate. Thus if malting involves early stages of sprouting, it wouldn't
happen, would it?
Safe Journeys and Sweet Music
Justin Marquez (Snyder, TX)http://www.justinandlinda.com

8) From: Nelson, Frank
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
I was not aware of the inability to germinate.   Yes it would seem that
if the beans when we get them can not germinate than malting would not
work.  However if my memory serves me correctly the Sumatran are aged
for 2 years or is it 2 months.  I really forget the length, but in
either case the time would be much longer than the malting process of
barley by a long shot, so I think something else is going on here.  I
just thought the malting process may be a method to start with since
simply keeping the beans in a bag for awhile does not work at all.  On
the other hand maybe it takes coffee longer to germinate than barley.
Hopefully one of the coffee plant growers can give some insight.
 
Frank
From: homeroast-admin
[mailto:homeroast-admin] On Behalf Of Justin
Marquez
Sent: Tuesday, November 29, 2005 3:11 PM
To: homeroast
Subject: Re: +Aged vs. Old--Fodder for discussion
 
 
On 11/29/05, Nelson, Frank  wrote: 
I think an interesting experiment would be to try a simple setup similar
to the one diagramed for malting barley with modifications to the times 
at the various stages and heat applied in the final stage.  I think the
fluidity and spreading out of the bean mass is probably crucial at
certain stages.
Just some additional thoughts,
Frank
 
Howdy, Frank!
 
I seem to recall seeing somewhere last year that green coffee beans as
we receive them (i.e., after processing operations) were no longer
viable to germinate. Thus if malting involves early stages of sprouting,
it wouldn't happen, would it? 
 
Safe Journeys and Sweet Music
Justin Marquez (Snyder, TX)http://www.justinandlinda.com 

9) From: Ed Needham
Well, I started to write a description of what I thought Monsooned coffee 
was and I looked on the Sweetmaria's site and Tom had this to say...
"Monsooned coffee is certainly unique. Monsooned coffees are stored in 
special warehouses until the Monsoon season comes around. The sides of the 
structure are opened and moist monsoon winds circulate around the coffee 
making it swell in size and take on a mellowed but aggressive, musty flavor. 
The monsooning process is labor-intensive: coffee is spread on the floor of 
the special monsooning warehouse, raked and turned around by hand to enable 
the seeds to soak in moisture of the humid winds. The monsooning process 
takes around 12 to 16 months of duration, where in the beans swell to twice 
their original size and turn into pale golden color. Then there are 
additional hand-sortings to remove any coffee that did not expand properly, 
and the coffee is prepared for export. "
Aged coffee is not monsooned, but monsooned is aged.
*********************
Ed Needham
"to absurdity and beyond!"
ed at homeroaster dot com
(include [FRIEND] somewhere in the subject line of any email correspondence)
*********************

10) From: Ed Needham
Aging takes a long time, so it is different than the malting process for 
barley...but I wonder if some processes of sprouting microscopically begin 
when a living seed (coffee bean) is aged.  Over time, I would also expect 
the chemistry of the bean to change, and interact to change flavors.  Of 
course the bean would lose some moisture in the process.
I'd bet someone has tried to malt coffee beans, but I'm not aware of it 
being done.  Might be a cool experiment.
*********************
Ed Needham
"to absurdity and beyond!"
ed at homeroaster dot com
(include [FRIEND] somewhere in the subject line of any email correspondence)
*********************

11) From: Ed Needham
You can sprout the green coffee beans, but you will have better luck with 
seeds kept in the parchment and not abused by all the processing.  The beans 
are mostly still alive and viable.
*********************
Ed Needham
"to absurdity and beyond!"
ed at homeroaster dot com
(include [FRIEND] somewhere in the subject line of any email correspondence)
*********************

12) From: Alchemist John
Just my own unsubstantiated thoughts here.  I can't imagine any 
malting going on in a coffee seed being aged.  I have malted barley, 
and it does not hit the conversion until well into the sprouting 
phase - and malting barely is very wet.  Not just humid, but wet - 
like 50% moisture is I recall.  Nice try though.
At 10:43 11/29/2005, you wrote:
<Snip>
John Nanci
AlChemist at large
Zen Roasting , Blending & Espresso pulling by Gestalthttp://www.chocolatealchemy.com/

13) From: Alchemist John
On that note, where you might not be able to age your own properly, 
you might be able to monsoon your own with a bit of high tech (maybe 
not for us here :P) assistance.  Aging afterward might be tricky.
At 22:39 11/29/2005, you wrote:
<Snip>
John Nanci
AlChemist at large
Zen Roasting , Blending & Espresso pulling by Gestalthttp://www.chocolatealchemy.com/

14) From: Nelson, Frank
Not to cause a fight but a typical basement could have a relative
humidity above 50% in San Francisco, CA for instance.  So in a tropical
clime 50% relative humidity would not be hard to come by.  In addition I
do think the monsoon process sounds like a long malting process:
"Monsooned coffees are stored in special warehouses until the Monsoon
season comes around. The sides of the structure are opened and moist
monsoon winds circulate around the coffee making it swell in size and
take on a mellowed but aggressive, musty flavor. The monsooning process
is labor-intensive: coffee is spread on the floor of the special
monsooning warehouse, raked and turned around by hand to enable the
seeds to soak in moisture of the humid winds. The monsooning process
takes around 12 to 16 months of duration, where in the beans swell to
twice their original size and turn into pale golden color."
I have however never malted barley just had it described to me and
tasted it through the process.  My idea for Tom or someone else so
inclined would be test the relative humidity if 50% or greater is what
you need to malt than you should not have to do anything before letting
the beans age in a controlled aerated condition similar to the spreading
on a floor and raking and turning of the monsoon process or the turning
of the barley in the malting process.
Just some simple thoughts from a simple mind,
Frank

15) From: Justin Marquez
On 11/30/05, Nelson, Frank  wrote:
<Snip>
If all we need is relative humidity over 50%, there are PLENTY of places in
the deep South meeting that criteria well over 95% of the time, i.e,  New
Orleans,Houston, Mobile, basically anywhere along the Gulf Coast.
Safe Journeys and Sweet Music
Justin Marquez (Snyder, TX)http://www.justinandlinda.com

16) From: Ed Needham
Yes, malting is a complex process of sprouting and then stopping the process 
by heat, and that does not occur as part of the bean aging process.
My original thought was that the aging and moisture would very slowly at 
least initiate the process of sprouting.  Those seeds are genetically 
programmed to do what they need to do to make the species survive, and given 
even a hint of the proper heat and moisture, the process cold initiate.  Not 
that the bean actually sprouts or even seems to change at all, but that the 
internal processes necessary for sprouting begin, which could change the 
taste of the roasted bean.  I think it is likely to be one of the components 
that make properly aged coffee beans so tasty.
Some seeds have been known to last for a long time when kept in the proper 
storage environment.  Seeds can be kept for a year or two and still remain 
viable to sprout.  Each year that goes by, diminishes their viability.  That 
diminished viability is likely due to drying out and necessary chemistry or 
structures not being able to do what it needs to do.   Oxidation itself 
would damage the raw bean over time.
Another factor to consider is the effect of wild local yeasts of some sort 
attaching to the outer portion of the seed and creating a bit of 
fermentation.  Again, not fully active, but having an 'effect' on the 
flavor.  Unbagging the beans, turning them on a patio and re-bagging them 
'must' allow them to pick up some of the local yeasties and cause a positive 
(or negative) effect.  Not much different than the Lambic beers from Belgium 
that are poured into open vats after the boil to allow wild yeasts or 
whatever to 'contaminate' the brew and bring about fermentation.  It's an 
iffy process, but even the 'bad' batches are used to blend with others to 
create the traditional Lambic signature.
*********************
Ed Needham
"to absurdity and beyond!"
ed at homeroaster dot com
(include [FRIEND] somewhere in the subject line of any email correspondence)
*********************

17) From: Ed Needham
Not many monsoons in Southern Indiana.  Southern India would provide a 
better shot at it.
*********************
Ed Needham
"to absurdity and beyond!"
ed at homeroaster dot com
(include [FRIEND] somewhere in the subject line of any email correspondence)
*********************

18) From: Dan Bollinger
<Snip>
Ed,  I researched malting a few years ago and found no mention of it in the 
coffee literature.  Not surprising. Considering the length of time it takes a 
coffee bean to sprout, and the large number you'd loose to fungus and mold, the 
result would be expensive.  I mentioned something like, "The closest thing we 
have to malted barley is aged beans" in the 'chewy' thread, and that is a big 
reach as far as I'm concerned. About all the two have in common is that both are 
moisture processing, but the result is much different.  I don't taste the coffee 
starches being converted to sugar in aged or monsooned beans.  Anyone with a 
grape grower's optical refractometer could test the amount of sugar in a green 
coffee infusion versus a monsooned/aged bean infusion.   Dan

19) From: Nelson, Frank
Excellent experiment.  I will do this if time is willing on my next trip
to OR wine country and no one does before hand.
Frank

20) From: Scot Murphy
On Nov 30, 2005, at 11:03 AM, Ed Needham wrote:
<Snip>
Aren't you in Bloomington? A friend of mine (we were both I.U.  
students) once commented that the rainy season there extends from  
September 1st through August 31st.
Scot "except when it snows" Murphy
-------------------------
"The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the  
growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than  
their democratic State itself. That, in its essence, is Fascism-- 
ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any  
controlling private power."
             --Franklin D. Roosevelt

21) From: Ed Needham
My posts were just speculation as to what was going on in aging.  I still 
suspect some of the process occurs, but way down on the bell curve of 
activity.
They use those refractometers for wine?  I thought it was only for beer. 
*********************
Ed Needham
"to absurdity and beyond!"
ed at homeroaster dot com
(include [FRIEND] somewhere in the subject line of any email correspondence)
*********************

22) From: Ed Needham
I'm 100 miles south of Bloomington in New Albany, across from Louisville, 
KY.  Resided in Bloomington for several years as an IU undergrad though.
*********************
Ed Needham
"to absurdity and beyond!"
ed at homeroaster dot com
(include [FRIEND] somewhere in the subject line of any email correspondence)
*********************

23) From: Rick Copple
Justin Marquez wrote:
[snip]
<Snip>
Along there, it wouldn't be called "monsooned" coffee, but "huricained" 
coffee. :-)
-- 
Rick Copple
Marble Falls, TX

24) From: Nelson, Frank
Alright I made the measurements as best I could but am currently
unsatisfied but positive progress has been made.
I ground up one green bean each of Kenya AA Kangocho, Mexican Organic
Oaxaca Finca El Olivo, and Aged Sumatra Lintong.  I suspended 0.1 g of
each ground coffee in 10 mL of heated water.  First couple of readings
had 0.4 %sugar for all of the beans.  I waited some time, heated the
water with the ground beans in it, regardless the readings did not
change.  So it looks like the aging process may not change the sugar
content.  I am pretty confident I controlled for cross contamination,
but could always be a problem.  One control I know I do not have is the
internal control of green bean before and after aging.  The accuracy of
my instrument may have also been a problem.  I used a standard 0-32%
refractometer.  A 0-10% would have been more accurate for such low sugar
levels.
I am going to let the solutions sit over night and test them one last
time in the morning.
Frank

25) From: Ed Needham
Interesting stuff.  And you brought up my main concerns with the testing.
So how did the morning test come out?
*********************
Ed Needham
"to absurdity and beyond!"
ed at homeroaster dot com
(include [FRIEND] somewhere in the subject line of any email correspondence)
*********************

26) From: Nelson, Frank
The morning test was a flop.  I have someone more trained in running
samples such as this helping me in the process.  She is very excited
about this test.  Truth be told anything that involves the scientific
process and is unrelated to the science we do is always exciting.  That
said, we are looking into possibly getting access to a more accurate
refractometer or a hygrometer.  We are also trying to figure out a good
way to increase the signal so even if the accuracy is not that good the
signal will be so high it does not matter.
Any ideas or suggestions are always appreciated.
Frank


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