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    Storing your Coffee

    Room Temperature

    Storing coffee at room temperature is the most convenient method of storage. It works well for coffee that will be consumed within one to two weeks of purchase. When storing at room temperature the following environmental factors should be minimized and eliminated if possible: oxygen, water, excessive heat, and direct sunlight.

    All of these factors will destroy the coffee's flavour. A great device for mitigating these factors is a ceramic canister that holds ½ lb. to 1lb. of coffee. The canister should have some sort of sealing mechanism that does not allow air to circulate. Additionally, a ceramic canister will protect the coffee from sunlight, water and flavour migration. Flavour migration happens when the container harbours flavours. Plastic containers are great examples of this concept. Plastics allow flavour molecules to penetrate and metallic canisters allow metallic flavours to migrate. Ceramic containers, on the other hand, are sealed and baked. Consequently, they will not corrupt the flavour of the coffee. 

    To Freeze or Not To Freeze

    Often times, it would be suggested to store your coffee in the freezer. After all, at colder temperatures, molecular activity (including flavour molecules migrating) slows down, right? This is true. But does slowing molecular migration down preserve the flavour of the coffee? Not necessarily.

    You see, there are other variables at work in a freezer:

    ~ A frozen environment will allow water molecules to attach to the coffee beans and/or packaging.

    ~ A freezer has other flavour molecules floating around in it (remember that fish sale 3 weeks ago?)

    ~ A freezer door opens and closes very often under normal use.

    What does this mean for your coffee? This means that water will contact the surface of the bean and ice will form. When the water melts, that water will find its way into the porous bean and will begin to deteriorate the quality of the coffee. Secondly, you should keep in mind that roasted coffee is porous to odours. So if you put your coffee in the freezer, it needs to be well protected against the possibility of tasting like liquid salmon.

    Your goal should be to keep the coffee's contact with water to a minimum. Moreover, the coffee should thaw only once - right before it is brewed. We would suggest keeping the beans in the original packaging. Then place the package in a zippered storage bag. You can draw out the excess air by using a straw to suck out the air while you close the bag. If you do not have a zippered bag, you can wrap the beans using a plastic wrap. After this initial wrapping, place the coffee bean bundle in another paper bag. Again, wrap the bag with plastic wrap, then we cover it with foil. It may sound like overkill, but it is worth it. You've invested money in this gourmet coffee, you need to protect your investment. Freezing coffee is applicable for storage of coffee that won't be used within 1-2 weeks of roasting. It is not optimal for everyday use.

    No Refrigerators!

    If you are wondering about the refrigerator, it is a no-no for coffee. Since the temperature is generally around 4 degrees celcius, the water that is inside doesn't freeze. It is a cold mist that lingers on the coffee and there are even more scents and flavour molecules floating around. Liquid water is coffee's worst enemy during storage. Under no circumstance would we ever recommend using the refrigerator for storing coffee.

    Conclusion

    If you find yourself at a coffee shop that has a sale on your favourite specialty roast and if you buy more than you can brew in a week or two, store the coffee properly. Determine which portion of that coffee you will consume within one week and put the amount that you can consume in that week into a ceramic canister. Divide the rest of the coffee into 'one-week packages' and store in the freezer as I've described in this article. When you need more coffee, pull another 'one-week package' out of the freezer and transfer the coffee into short-term storage.

     

    Brewing your Coffee

    While there are many ways to brew a cup of coffee each method brings out different qualities in coffee. The following general rules apply to each coffee making process discussed. It is best to use 2 tablespoons of coffee per 6 ounces of water. The water should not be boiling but be between 195-205 degrees fahrenheit. Filtered water and spring water are recommended as tap water imparts flavours to the coffee.

    Some of the more common techniques of brewing coffee include:

    Autodrip
    This is the most popular way to brew in North America. Drip brewing is simply pouring hot water over grounds in a filter and letting the brew drip out the bottom. Drip brewing is a very good way to brew and can give an excellent cup if the correct equipment is used. A primary issue with autodrip machines is that they don't brew at the right temperature. A good gold-plated reusable filter is a great option for drip brewing as some paper filters will impart a flavour.

    French Press
    While it may be more labor-intensive than autodrip, the brewing variables can be easily and directly controlled. Coarsely ground coffee is placed in the glass carafe, then water at the desired temperature is poured over the grounds and the top is placed on. When brewing is complete, the plunger (a mesh filter on a stick) is pressed down, pressing the grounds to the bottom and leaving the coffee on top to be poured off. The mesh of the filter allows the coffee oils and all those delicious dissolved and undissolved solids through without a problem.  A cup of French-pressed coffee with be noticeably fuller, with much more body, and often with more flavor, it will often also have the tell-tale sediment at the bottom of the cup.

    Espresso
    The coffee in your daily cappucino. The coffee is finely ground to almost a powdery consistency then almost boiling hot water is forced through the grounds under intense pressure. This brewing process is timed so that the flavorful and aromatic oils are extracted from the coffee and not the bitter components. The results are a full-flavored, strong but not bitter, concentrated shot of coffee.

    Percolating
    Percolating is the procedure that involves continuous brewing of coffee grounds using boiling water. This method, while practical, is not recommended as you are brewing with water that is too hot and the grounds are continuously being over-extracted. This leads to a watery, thin and biter cup of coffee.