During our first year of roasting, we have discovered a lot of things. Among them are that green coffee is much more fragile than we thought. When I started with coffee 10 years ago, I learned that green coffee was fresh for at least 1 year before it started tasting past crop (like dry straw) and lost its volatile aromas and freshness.
By our experience the truth is very far away from those old facts. Although our Kenyan coffees have shown great flavour after one year in storage, some of our central american coffees have faded a lot faster – anything from 2 to 4 months after arrival to Norway.
To prevent this from happning, we have experimentet a lot with vacuum packing the green beans and storing them in differet environments. So far we know that the burlap sacks (jutesekker) are very far away from an ideal storage container for coffee. The coffee normally tastes baggy after some time and looses its moisture and aroma quite fast. In an experiment we found that after only 4 months there was a huge diference between coffee that was vacuum packed in plastic bags vs. the coffee stored in burlap. The coffee in vacuum bags smells fresher, tastes fresher and has a more lively acidity and aroma.
Therefore, we have decided never to store our coffees in burlap again.
Although we always try to buy the green coffee and get it vacuum packed in the producing country, most of the coffees we get are transported in burlap. This is because the technology is “new” to the coffee industry and the equipment and extra labour is quite expensive. Fortunately, there are more and more buyers like us who insist on vacuum packing the coffee.
I recently had to spend 2 full days, re-packing the coffees that just arrived from Kenya. 3,5 tonns of coffee has been packed and at some point it felt a bit idiotic to do so, but I know it will preserve our coffees better until next harvest. It also got me thinking of how much labour that is behind every kilo of coffee that we buy, and I remember especially the guys I saw in Colombia that were standing in a 40 degree celsius warehouse packing the green coffee, much like I had to do with this Kenyan coffee. I have to say that it is extremely hard labour.
And still some people wonder why some coffees cost more than others. In my opinion, coffee is still one of he cheapest luxury products there is..