If oxygen is the Joker, then our newest piece of equipment in the roasting room is Batman!
It's pretty obvious to everyone that coffee gets stale. We've all had that incredibly underwhelming cup from a bag left open in the back of a cupboard far too long. Or maybe you're a coffee nerd at Christmas and EVERYONE buys you a 12oz bag of beans... you take the greatest care to reseal the bags, but you just can't get to tasting all the coffees before they're flat and dull.
Once roasted, the flavor of coffee deteriorates rather quickly. But most people have no idea why. Believe it or not, it's the same chemical process that causes your car to rust!
"Oxidation is the process of oxygen pulling away electrons from another molecule. These molecules, with an uneven number of electrons, become unstable and begin reacting with other molecules around them. Called free radicals, these volatile compounds are the root cause of browning, aging, rusting, and in the coffee world, staling. The Scientific American provides a great analogy: Think about what happens to an apple once you slice it open. The fruit, previously protected by a waxy skin, quickly turns brown when exposed to the environment. As volatile compounds react with molecules around them, the molecular structure of the apple begins to brown and decay. The same thing happens to coffee, especially after grinding. " - Hand Ground
So what can be done!?!
Well first, you can drink coffee as close to the roast date as possible. Or, you can change the atmosphere in the coffee bag to remove the oxygen, thats what we do!
This weird looking thing allows us to blast each bag of coffee full of nitrogen just as the bag is being sealed up. Flushing with nitrogen displaces the oxygen and creates a more stable environment for the roasted coffee to live. Until we have further testing, we are proudly displaying a shelf-life of 100 days past roasting! Personally, I always try to drink a roasted coffee within 3 weeks of roasting, but this simple act adds 11 weeks easily! I have personally had coffees roasted a year prior and nitro sealed from other roasters that still tasted great!
Once the seal of the bags is broken, it basically acts like a normal bag of beans.. try to consume within 2-3 weeks. Learn more about peak freshness here.
I can hear it already, so if this works SO great, why isn't every roaster doing this? Well, you'd be surprised how many big companies already use this as standard bagging procedure... think the big guys like Starbucks and Folgers. So why aren't more small specialty roasters doing this?
1) The specialty coffee industry is notoriously behind the times in innovation. We have so much technology available to us that we just choose not to implement as an industry. It's 2018 and we are just now coming out with espresso grinders that WEIGH the grind dose instead of TIME the dose! It's little things like that which illustrate this strange resistance towards implementing automation or new processes. When you think of other pre-packaged foods, they are WAY ahead in manufacturing, packaging, and marketing.
2) Small specialty roasters have always had one "leg up" on the big brands that they're afraid to give up! Going to you local roaster is the only way to get the freshest possible coffee. You can't buy Folgers off the grocery store shelf 1 day after roasting... you can however buy a bag roasted 5 minutes ago by your local roaster. We think it's time local roasters stop using this as their ONLY marketing tool. It's time we innovate and have other reasons why people buy locally roasted coffee, like traceability, rarity, customer service! Nitrogen flushing allows us to now compete with the big guys at many more levels!
Here are Velodrome, we want to grow. We want to buy more and more coffee from the farmers we love. We don't want to say no to opportunities because we have to be concerned about freshness. So, not only will nitrogen flushing allow us to bring our customers from the shop a better product, but also this will allow us to try new markets. It will allow us to be on other shelves across Michigan, the Midwest, and the entire US! It adds control, it adds consistency. And for our wholesale partners? Well for them it means even more efficiency, less ordering, less shipping costs, more dependability and less running out of beans.
So keep an eye out for our mark of nitrogen flushing and give it a try. Maybe buy 2 bags this time around and test the theory.... let the second one sit and open it in a couple of months... we think you'll be surprised.