How To Keep Green Coffee Beans Fresh For Longer
Like any other agricultural products, coffee beans have a limited period of peak freshness before the quality starts to deteriorate. Without proper storage and packaging, the deterioration goes even faster, and it will have a negative impact on the final cup such as a “flat” taste or unsatisfactory sensory profile. In this article, we will talk about how long can green coffee beans stay fresh, and what can we do to keep them fresh as long as possible.
What can damage the freshness of green coffee beans?
There are several factors that can negatively impact the quality and freshness of green coffee beans, such as:
Ambient storage temperature plays an important part in green coffee quality. High temperatures are particularly bad, as they cause aromatic compounds, moisture, and flavors to evaporate from the beans. On the other hand, if the temperature is too low, it may cause ice crystals to form inside the packaging, which can compromise cellular structure.
Temperature and humidity often go hand in hand in affecting the quality of green coffee beans. High humidity causes the beans to absorb the excess moisture, leading to the growth of mold and mildew. If the humidity is too low, it may cause moisture loss and with it flavor loss from the green coffee beans.
Extended exposure to light will dry out the green coffee beans, reducing their flavor and aroma.
Time is a factor that causes the quality of green coffee beans to diminish. Oxidation over time will cause degradation of the aromatic compounds, which lead to the flat or stale taste of the coffee.
- Type of packaging
Green coffee is usually shipped in jute bags or burlap sacks, which are inexpensive and easy to manufacture. But these materials offer very little protection during shipping and storage.
The peak freshness of green coffee beans
As a rule of thumb, green coffee beans can retain good aromatic and physical qualities for up to one year after harvest if they are kept under good conditions. Coffee roasters should bear in mind the timeframe of where their beans come from and how long it takes to get the fresh beans from the farmer to the roastery when planning for storage.
After one year, the green beans are said to be degraded in terms of quality. All the factors (humidity, condensation, temperature extremes, and oxidation) can cause a number of flavours to emerge in the final cup of “old” green coffee, which may have tasting notes of the following:
- Grainlike or cereal-like
- Taking on the flavor of the burlap bag
- Paper or cardboard
- Straw or hay
Tips to keep green coffee beans fresh for longer
A good coffee roaster knows that quality control that leads to cups of delicious coffee begins even before the beans go near a roaster machine. How the coffee beans are stored will determine how the customers experience the coffee. Below are the best practices in storing coffee:
1. Optimum warehouse conditions
Keep your storage area to be the perfect environment for your green coffee. Maintain the temperature between 15-25℃, stable humidity around 60-65%, moisture level around 12%, and minimum natural lights.
2. Proper shelving and pallets
Good organization of the warehouse with shelving and pallets will enable the coffee roastery to store coffee safely, maximize the use of vertical space, and keep track of stock using the “first-in, first-out” method. Pallets can be used to keep coffee off the ground and stacking bags to save space. As a guideline, use the Recommended Coffee Warehouse Storage Practices by the Green Coffee Association.
3. Proper packaging
Coffee packaging should preserve the freshness of the green coffee, and keep them away from moisture, heat, and air. A lot of coffee producers combine inner hermetic bags with outer jute bags for shipping, or using pellets, plastic, or vacuum sealed bags. During storage, many coffee business operators opt to use airtight containers to keep their coffee fresh.
4. Pest control
Rodents and insects can be destructive and bring potential health hazards. Pest control should be taken seriously, working together with a pest control professional. Opt for natural products instead of chemical-based treatments in case of infestations, particularly if you carry organic-certified coffee beans.
Proper green coffee storage is one of the most important steps a professional roaster can take to ensure the freshness of the green coffee beans. Optimum storage conditions can maintain the integrity of the specialty coffee beans for longer, keep them safe for consumption, and preserve their aroma and flavor. On the other hand, poor storage practices can leave green coffee susceptible to physical damage and diminishing flavor profiles.