Friday, 30 September 2011

How to store coffee beans.

We are often asked what is the best way to store coffee beans?

The factors that make coffee beans deteriorate are exposure to heat, light, and air. Thus, the best way to store beans is in a cool, dark place in the same package they were sold in. Transfer to a new container exposes all the beans to air, and this will increase the rate of deterioration.

After coffee is roasted it releases carbon dioxide, this as called degassing. The coffee we sell comes in a pack that has a one-way valve. This enables the coffee to be packed immediately after roasting before degassing has finished, the carbon dioxide can escape the one-way valve and air is prevented from entering.

How long do roasted beans last? About a week, beyond that the loss of flavour becomes increasingly noticeable.

One of the reasons why there are coffee roasters in each major city and even in many country towns is that coffee goes stale fast. It is impossible for foreign suppliers to get freshly roasted beans to Australia fast enough to compete with local roasters before their coffee has gone stale!

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Burr grinders - flat versus conical

Just to make things a little more complex, there are not only two types of grinders - blade and burr - there are two types of burr grinders - conical and flat. There is some evidence to suggest that conical burr grinders are superior, they work more slowly and can provide a more even grind. Conical burr grinders used to be only used in high volume cafés but now they are also used domestically. This where it gets a little confusing, a good flat burr grinder will produce a better grind than a poor conical grinder. This is because prices and quality vary so much between manufacturers and models. As a rough guide expect to pay at least $500- for a good quality electric conical grinder to grind coffee to home espresso standard. If you do not need such a fine grind a cheaper grinder can produce good results for plunger coffee. An industry benchmark for high volume cafés is the Mazzer Robur grinder, at $3400 they are not often used domestically but I have seen one in an office. Recently I have been using a Kyocera (Japanese) hand grinder for espresso coffee with very good results. Don't know the exact retail price yet as this was suppled as a sample for us to try, but I expect it to be about $100- . It does great espresso and the exercise is free!

Friday, 23 September 2011

Burr grinders.

Burr grinders are the most commonly used grinders in cafés. They are also gradually taking over from blade grinders in the domestic market. The advantage with burr grinders is that the grind can be regulated to suit the kind of coffee you are making. For plunger coffee you need a coarse grind for filter and espresso a finer grind. Beyond that gross distinction between the kinds of coffee making there is also the importance of getting the grind for your particular coffee machine just right. In a café the barista may reset the grind several times a day to keep the coffee extraction perfect.

Below a picture of a typical burr grinder - the bodum bistro. This is similar to a commercial grinder except that all the parts are smaller and lighter and it is not designed to run continuously in a commercial environment.

The daily grind.

These ladies have the whole thing down pat, the grinder breaks down the coffee into small particles, the sieve allows only the correct size to pass through. The only difference between now an then is that we do everything fast.