HomeRoast Digest

Topic: To Vac or Not to Vac Week 4 (Final) (14 msgs / 501 lines)
1) From: Aaron
It's been a month now and yes there are still some beans left.
Four weeks, this will be the true test here I bet.
Let's start perkin and a  pourin but no snorin.
In recap -  the containers used were
1. Vaccuum container with the air sucked out of it
2. Sealed tight mason jar
3. Closed container, may or may not be Air tight
4. SM's valve bags that let the CO2 out and keep air from getting in
5. A container, .. a zip lock baggie, NOT airtight.
It was determined around week 2 that the sealed mason jar and the closed 
container are BOTH airtight, and are exhibiting almost identical 
characteristics.  With this, while I will still test each as an 
individual, I will not comment on both each step unless there is 
something different about the two.
They all looked still, pretty much the same with the zip lock baggie 
showing a bit of oil sheen on the bean.  4 weeks to oil, not too bad.
Smell in storage container:
vac - the vac container, this time once i popped the seal, the smell 
came back to the beans fairly quickly.  Of the entire bunch, the vac was 
the only one that really had much of an aroma left to them.  The aroma 
took on that 'beefy' smell I mentioned in the previous weeks.
sealed -  had a bit of an aroma to it but it quickly dissipated once the 
lid was opened.  The smell that was there was subdued, and not as 'wow' 
as the coffee used to be.
valve -  very little aroma to speak of.
zip -  had to pretty much almost stick the beans up my nose (nope didn't 
go that far, not even for science!!) to smell anything in them.  what 
aroma there was, was stale, old grease smell hints to it.
Grind -  they all ground up the same, and i will describe the smells 
right after grinding.
vac -  had a fairly decent smell to it still of the lot, had the most 
'body' still to the smell
sealed, and valve had a bit of aroma when ground - had that beefy 
overtone to it
zip - had very little aroma when ground even.
vac - Now the vac sealed still had a full bodied aroma when brewing, the 
aroma is taking on the 'beefiness' of before but still is very full.
sealed - Not much aroma, kind of a 'subdued' beef, but waning, like it's 
going stale.
valve  - same as sealed really at this point
zip  -  the coffee brewing didn't really smell like the flavors of the 
above but the brewing smelled more like 'coffee grounds' ie bitter, 
earthy smell.
165  - Hot, duuh....  right off the swiss golds I did a small 'two blow 
taste test'
vac -  The vac coffee suprisingly has a very good flavor yet.  It is 
definately hinted with the 'beef'  maybe we should call it the 'beef of 
ages' flavor.  the coffee is also taking on that 'silky or creamy' 
texture significantly that I mentioned in the previous weeks. The coffee 
has a very nice full body to it as well.
sealed -  the coffee has a bit of flavor, the silky has pretty much gone 
away and given way to, thinner flavor, thinner body, and that 'acid' or 
'tart'?? taste is starting to come in like it did last week for the zip.
valve -  is nearly identical to the sealed container in taste..
zip  -  the coffee has a thin taste to it, and has that 'acidy', or 
'old' brewed taste to it.... no silkiness to it, flavor is duller
vac  -  the coffee is developing a flavor now, the silkiness is almost 
gone and being replaced by 'beefy' but the beef flavor is not bad, 
overwhelming, and you can still taste a bit of the original flavors.  
again, not too terribly bad.
sealed -  the coffee has thinned down, the flavor is getting a bit of an 
acid 'bite' to it, with the beefy aftertaste.  there's a kind of 
aftertaste developing im trying to think of how to describe. 
valve -  the coffee is pretty much like the sealed, except that the 
flavor is a bit 'less' overall of the entire coffee, and the 'bite' is a 
bit stronger
zip --  the coffee really does not have much flavor at all.  It's smooth 
on the tongue, but there is not really much flavor, but a definate 
aftertaste that is not what one would consider an 'asset' to the taste 
of coffee...  kind of metallic like tasting....
vac  -  the coffee has pretty much developed into all that it is going 
to be here....to be honest, i liked it when it was hotter.  Normally I 
like my coffee's best in this range because they are a nice 'tolerable' 
temp to drink without baby sipping it, and the flavors have well 
developed.  The flavor is getting thinner, the creamy texture is still 
there, but there is nothing really 'wow' about this coffee anymore.  
It's not bitter or anything, but,  just.. unexceptional.
sealed  -  the coffee is thin and the taste is weakening.  that acid 
'bite' is in the cup, and the beefy aftertaste is kind of playing tag 
team with the bite.. it's almost like they are complimenting each 
other.... only the combined flavor is NOT a compliment to the coffee.
valve  -  the same as the sealed only the flavor of 'bite' is a bit 
zip -  the flavor is pretty much gone from this coffee, the cup taste 
like that acid indegestion stuff you will find at any local stop and rob 
convenience store that serves the 'millstone' or some of the what they 
consider to be 'premium blends'.....  that metallic taste is very 
prevalent.... it's not quite metallic but odd..  You ever bite your 
tongue, or bite your lip or cheek or had a tooth that bled and you got 
that coppery sort of after taste in your mouth from the blood after you 
rinsed it out?  Not trying to gross anyone out but that aftertaste, that 
coppery like taste is what the aftertaste of this coffee is sort of like.
vac  -   the cup of coffee is nearly at room temp now.... it's warm...it 
has a silky texture, the 'beef bite' has suprisingly disappeared, there 
is a bit of flavor in the cup, but it is more full bodied (thicker 
tasting if that makes sense), and actually, not bad.  The hints at a 
'bite' at the end are all but gone.  Oddly enough, by my peasant's 
tastes, this cup has improved with cooling at this stage..... it's 
actually not bad again...
sealed, and  valve  -  the coffee is thin tasting, and the beef taste is 
there with the 'bite' in it... it isn't picking up the 'coppery' taste 
as the ziplock baggy has but has definately degraded in flavor.  the 
'texture' smoothed out a bit which is helping make this 'bite' in the 
cup a bit more tolerable and less intrusive to the tonsils (sorry, had 
to throw in a cheap metaphor there :)  There's a hint of possibly the 
start of 'old oil or ransid  starting up.  Not a lot but there are 
hints starting to show.
zip  -   the flavor has not changed much from above....  umm, in search 
of a word here..... cooling kind of .. '' thickened'' the aftertaste??  
At this point, the coffee while is not horrid like certain 'canned' 
stuff we could buy, isn't much above the par of the 'special' stuff one 
could get at the places that sell the 'good stuff'......  It taste stale 
and overbrewed, like it sat on a burner for several hours to stay hot.. 
there is a bitterness, kind of like a coffee ground flavoring that is 
getting stronger as well..
post brew oddities.
All of the coffee's 'plumed' in the cup  when I put them through the 
swiss gold, however the ziplock was barely noticeable, and with the 
exception of the vac coffee, the plumes were less bodied.
Interestingly enough, the Vac stored coffee, retained the most flavor 
out of the batch, yet I was almost half a gram short when I brewed it up 
because I ran out of beans.  I was expecting it to be a bit 'weaker' 
than the rest because of the small deficiency in the amount of beans but 
it turned out exactly the opposite.  This leads me to think that it 
might be possible, with some of the other stored types, to bring back 
some of the missing 'flavors'... if you want to call them that, by 
brewing it a little stronger with more grounds than normal as it ages.  
That might compensate possibly, I honestly do not know though as I 
haven't tried that.
Things I learned:
First thing I learned is.  4 to 5 cups of coffee on an empty stomach 
first thing in the morning is a GREAT motivator to do the things you 
need to do around the place... things like, dishes, laundry, cleaning 
etc etc... the lizards got their weekly  'splash in the bath tub' so 
enjoyed the coffee experimentation as well.
All coffees WILL age, and as we have seen through the various methods, 
while we may be able to slow the process down, we will not really 
significantly alter or change it.  Actually as I dig through my old 
notes and all, it seems that the coffees all pretty much went through 
the same stages - phases as they aged, and all we did was just lengthen 
the time it took to get to 'that certain stage'.
It appears that Vaccum sealing the beans is the method that works best 
for prolonging the coffee's 'shelf life'.  Is this for everyone?  Does 
this mean that folks should run right out and buy a $100+ dollar vaccum 
sealer now?  No, not really.  If you drink enough coffee that it only 
lasts a week or so in your residence, then why spend all the extra money 
to 'put it up' to last 4 weeks when it will be gone in 1?  The flip side 
to this might be for example,  If you have a favorite coffee that tastes 
it's absolute best if it is drank within 4 days of roasting, but the way 
you roast .vs. your consumption, it lasts a week and 4 days, then you 
might want to consider a vac sealer to help prolong the time the coffee 
stays at that 'sweet spot'.  Of course if your coffee's sit around a few 
weeks before being all gone, a vac sealer might benefit you as well.
After Vac sealing, we find that Mason Jars or any container that you can 
get an airtight lid on work second best.  These will keep the coffee for 
up to 2  - 3 weeks before it significantly changes in flavor.  This is 
probably the most economical and feasable method to keep your coffee 
One point that was brought up in week two I think it was is.. Is there a 
difference between storing the coffee in a glass container (mason jar) 
and a plastic sealable (tupperware, rubbermaid etc).  I think one of the 
concerns was about the oils, and /or the plastic affecting the taste.  I 
did a little side experiment a few weeks ago which I just finished 
today.  I roasted up a batch of coffee a bit on the dark side, so that 
it would oil, and stored it in a glass mason jar and a plastic container 
that was sealable.   After two weeks I did not notice any noticeable 
difference in the taste of the coffee's in each container.  Both 
containers were then soaked in nice hot soapy water for about an hour 
and washed / scrubbed out like I would do with any other eating 
utensil.  At this point I dried both of them and sealed them back up and 
let them set for 24 hours.  I did this so that if there were any 
residual oils left (ie did the oil react with or soak into the plastic) 
I would hopefully smell some 'coffee' in the thing when I opened it back 
up.  I did not notice any adverse affects on the plastic.   With this I 
will have to say, I don't really think there is a difference in which 
method you choose to store your coffee as long as it is sealed.  The 
only thing I can think of that might sway use of one over the other is 
safety.  You drop plastic it bounces,  you drop a mason jar you 
potentially have a mess to clean up now.
Coming in 3rd was the valve lock bags such as the ones that Sweet 
Maria's sells.  These bags are NOT airtight.  The 'theory' behind them 
is, you can squeeze air out of them, but it won't let the air back in.  
In other words they are good for gassing out.  These bags seemed good 
for about 1 to 2 weeks for storing beans before the flavor was 
significantly affected.  After playing with these and just a zip lock 
baggie, and comparing the differences between these two, and then a 
mason jar.  I am going to take a shot and say that 'air' or 'oxidation' 
of the beans plays a major role in their 'aging process'.  If we can 
keep the air out / or at least 'new fresh' air out, then the process 
slows down.  Valve baggies will let some air back in, but they won't ' 
breathe' like a ziplock will.  The main failing of these bags is, you 
guessed it, the ziplock zipper on top of it.  The plastic walls of this 
bag  is much thicker than your standard ziplock bag so it wont allow air 
in that way but the zipper is not airtight.  There is airflow through 
one of these but it is much less than with a normal run of the mill 
ziplock baggie.  The valve lock just makes it easier to 'burp out' the 
bag when resealing it.... I would safely assume that if ziplock made 
bags that were of the same plastic and thickness of the walls, it'd do a 
similar job.. just squeezing the air out of it when sealing it would be 
a bit more tedious.
Coming in last was the ziplock baggie.  These were good for about a week 
before the coffee started to alter significantly.  The air got to the 
beans, and while it made the place 'smell good' with a wonderful roasted 
coffee smell... one has to remember that if the smell can get out... so 
can the freshness.
Well this about wraps up this little experiment as to which storage 
method is best.  Each has it's own advantages and disadvantages, and 
while one method might be better for some, might be overkill for others.
Overall though, this is just a rough guideline, with no 'real' 
scientific background to it.  I tried to control as many variables as 
possible to keep the results as realistic as I could but ultimately, the 
best judge to any experimentation with coffee is you.   Does it taste 
good to you, if so then it was a success.  Face it, some people actually 
like stale coffee.

2) From: Demian Ebert
That's a great set of tests and was very usefull to me in relation to
storage. Now I won't feel quite so bad if coffee sits in an airtight jar fo=
a couple of weeks before getting totally consumed.
Thanks for the effor (and drinking all that coffee for us).
On 3/5/06, Aaron  wrote:

3) From: Brett Mason
Your Dissertation is certainly worthy of a PhC, and I do hope Tom will
award it to you soon.  This exercise and documentation is hugely
valuable, and I want to say THANKS SO MUCH - you rock, man!
On 3/5/06, Aaron  wrote:
ribes) go tohttp://sweetmarias.com/maillistinfo.html#personalsettings<Snip>
Brett Mason
   _(( )_  Please don't spill the coffee!

4) From: Aaron
You are quite welcome everyone and I really enjoyed doing this.  If 
anyone ever gets any more ideas  (that won't cost me thousands of 
dollars to do), I will be more than happy to guinea pig them for you..  
Stuff like this I really enjoy because I can learn a lot from it, and 
even more important, I can share that knowledge with everyone else who 
is interested, so we are all better off for it.
I am toying with an idea here.  Next question concerns how to best store 
green coffee's.
I am tempted to try..  in a plastic bag,  in a cloth bag,  vaccuum 
possibly cook up a 5 oz batch from each, once a month or two  in my I 
roast, set at same settings, have them rest a few days then sample....  
this would probably have to go on for about a year to really see any 
significant changes....if any exist..... Hmm seems if I am going to do 
this, I better look at what's available, pick a goodun' and order 20 
pounds of it..... 
oh well, so much for stash reduction.... Personally I think it's all a 
conspiracy anyways.... stash reduction.  yah right... the checks in the 
mail too...

5) From: Peter Schmidt
Aaron wrote   ".... I would safely assume that if ziplock made
Hefty makes a 'freezer' ziplock w/ a slider closure that is great.  Thicker
plastic walls are less gas-permeable, and the slider is convenient.  They
a nice white area for labeling, excess air can be purged easily, and the
only cost about a dime.

6) From: Aaron
Peter, actually, I used the ziploc freezer bags.  While the same premise 
should be there, they didn't do so well as my results have proven.  The 
plastic of these is quite a bit thinner than the SM's bags.  Your 
statement IS correct though, the freezer type bags are supposed to have 
thicker plastic and / or  a slightly different make up of it as well I 
believe, the reason being exactly as we need, to keep air out, because 
the air getting in is what helps cause freezer burn and meat to turn 
that lovely shade of ... brown we love to see in raw meat.
I have seen the hefty's you mentioned and believe at one time I had 
some.  I will have to go get some and give them a try, see how they fare.
Thanks for the info.

7) From: raymanowen
You're a true researcher, Aaron. I think it was highly educational for all
of us that followed your very interesting test and reasoning.
"BS" takes on new meaning- Bean Storage. You're a scholar, sir. Thanks.
Cheers -RayO, aka Opa!
"When the theme hits the bass, I dance the Jig!" - -Virgil Fox at the Might=
Wichita WurliTzer

8) From: Kent Lind
I must have missed something in your description or missed a post.
What type of vacuum seal equipment are you using?
And what is the opinion of using those foodsaver vacuum seal food 
storage systems that I see sold at Costco where they seal food in 
plastic.  Like these:http://foodsaver.jardendirect.com/products.ad2?catalogID00-Kent-
Aaron wrote:
No virus found in this outgoing message.
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9) From: Bart Frazee
On Sun, 05 Mar 2006 15:04:51 -0500, you wrote:
In January 2005  ordered 20 pounds of CR La Magnolia, and set aside
beans in plastic bags, cloth bags, vacuum bags, and mason jars.
My plan was to roast them and take them to PNWG and hold a blind
cupping. If PNWG is not held on fathers day. I will do it.
unsvbscribes) go to =http://sweetmarias.com/maillistinfo.html#personalsettings

10) From: b cook
As far as spending 100 bucks on a vac system I just wanted to say that
Friday I scored this container at Ross Dress For Less that has a little
retractable and sturdy hand pump in the middle.  You pump it up and down an=
it pumps the air out fairly quickly and vacuum seals the lid.  The brand is
"Creative Gear" and it cost me $3.99.  Seems like a good buy.  Might be goo=
for traveling with my coffee.

11) From: Aaron
well there ya go bart.  I will be most interested in hearing the results 
of that test there.
But the thing is, how is one going to be able to determine which method, 
maintained the 'closest' to what the original bean was when you bought 
it, or is it going to be just, which did everyone like the best?

12) From: Peter Zulkowski
Can someone please repost  the week 4 results?
For some reason I did not receive it in my email.
Waiting with baited breath for the final results, here in LHC.
Aaron wrote:

13) From: Zara Haimo
There are several foodsaver users on this list.  I've used one for years to
vacuum seal everything I freeze - it really does prevent freezer burn.  I
use it for wheels of cheese that I cut into smaller blocks and keep without
mold for months in the fridge.  It's also great for reducing rancidity of
nuts, whole grains, and other staples that have oil that can go bad - I
vacuum seal those things either in mason jars or in the large, special
foodsaver canisters designed for flour and the like.
Coffee beans were one of the last things I started vacuum sealing - I seal
roasted beans in mason jars and recently started sealing the longer term
part of my greens stash.

14) From: Woody DeCasere
bc i have one of those and it loses seal as the beans degas, so you will
want to check it daily.
On 3/5/06, b cook  wrote:
"Good night, and Good Coffee"

HomeRoast Digest