Storage experiment part 4: The last cupping

12 Sep

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So today it’s been 4 weeks since we started the experiment and it was time for the last cupping. We’ve changed our cupping schedule from 14.00-15.00 (2 pm to 3 pm) to 16.00-17.00 (4pm to 5pm). This meant that we weren’t in the middle of the late lunch-rush when the cupping began. This in turn made it easier to focus while cupping.

As before we ground up 12 grams of the three differently stored coffees and a control sample. We later decided to skip the control sample as that coffee had been roasted slighlty darker and wouldn’t serve it’s purpose.
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Tim Varney volunteered to start the cupping and to get his “ugly mug” on the blog again to illustrate our cupping procedure. The other cuppers were Tim Wendelboe and myself.
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As dry grinds there were no distinction between the 3 cups. We then boiled the water…
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…and poured it onto the coffee. There were a slight distiction between the cups when the water had been added but not so much that we could agree upon one cup being more aromatic than the other.
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After having broken the crust and removed the foam we tasted the three coffees and this is were the differences became apparent. First of all; like last time we agreed on that no coffee should be stored this long no matter what method of storage being used. The coffees flavours had faded even more during the last week. But this is where we stopped agreeing. We scored and valued the 3 cups differently, but settled the score with …eh summing up the scores.

This time we gave the cup we preferred 6 points, the cup in second place 4 points and the least preferred cup 2 points. By summing up the points given by the three of us we could declare a winner…
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1st place: The freezer with 12 points
2nd place: The shelf with 10 points
3rd place: The fridge with 8 points

There wasn’t that much between the contestants this time around either, but the coffee from the freezer seemed to have an edge. I guess that this coffee would have increased it’s lead if we were to go on for more weeks. But why would anyone want to store their roasted coffee for that long?

As a conclusion for the entire project it seems that it’s better to store your coffee on the shelf out of sunlight and in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks rather than storing it in the same container (unopened) in the freezer and the fridge. But if you are going to store it for 4 weeks or longer (for some strange reason) you should store it in the freezer. This is true for coffee roasted for drip or french press. In case you have coffee roasted for espresso the freezer has an even bigger positive effect according to Tim W (having done a similar with this kind of coffee).

My theory is that the freezing and thawing process affects the coffee negatively but being frozen the coffee deteriorates more slowly than when stored on a shelf. For shorter periods of time the process of freezing and thawing makes the coffee from the freezer taste worse, but over time the deterioration of the coffee stored at room temperature is greater and will pass the combined effect of freezing/thawing added to the gradual deterioration of the coffee from the freezer.

We still have many questions unanswered. What would have been the differences between the coffees after 1 week? What would happen to a coffee that was less acidic? What if we opened and closed the bags every day?

This made us decide to repeat the experiment with another coffee and see what would be different. If you have any suggestions to aspects we should include in this test please leave a comment and let us know. Thanks for reading and sorry for all the pictures. I guess I just tried to compensate for there being only one in the previous installment.

Next week we will be testing to see how many unripes/defected beans there can be in a cup of coffee before you can taste it. We put our tastebuds on the line so you don’t have to!

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10 Responses to “Storage experiment part 4: The last cupping”

  1. mentness Thursday, September 13, 2007 at 3:29 #

    Great stuff!

    Not what I was expecting from the freezer in week 4.

    Think I may have a play myself and see what happens with espresso coffee!

  2. kaffemisjonen Thursday, September 13, 2007 at 17:21 #

    Bra eksperiment, tror jeg ville prøvd å starte cuppingen senere for å få mer entydige resultater, f.eks. 3-5 uker istedenfor 2-4. Og kanskje rette opp en liten bias, ikke fortell de som smaker (om det er gjester) hvor gammel kaffen er(særlig når dere ikke har referansekopp).

    Gleder meg til å se hvordan det går videre!

  3. Olings Thursday, September 13, 2007 at 18:09 #

    For English readers: I’m sorry but the answer to this comment will be in Norwegian.

    Tilbakemelding mottat og notert bak øret. Grunnen til at vi begynte så tidlig, og til at vi også vil prøve de enda tidligere neste gang, er at dette er mer relevant for det våre kunder spør om og hva de faktisk vil ha bruk for. Referansekoppen ble prøvd innført hver gang, men grunnen til at vi valgte å utelate den de fleste gangene er at brenningsgraden og kurven sjelden vil være helt identisk og at dette vil kunne føre til at den ikke vil fungere som referanse. Grunnen til at vi nevner hvem som smaker er at noen vil kunne ha en mer utviklet sans for tegn på de enkelte eventuelle feil på kaffen og at deres tilbakemelding vil bære mer tyngde.

    Uansett, takk for tilbakemelding og lykke til med ferdigstillelsen og åpningen.

  4. Wolfram Saturday, September 15, 2007 at 8:19 #

    Hi!

    I really enjoyed reading this series of articles. There was an article in the US roast magazine that lacked some details, you filled this gaps. Your tests are quite helpful and I am looking forward to the next tests your are doing.

    Please do more of this…

  5. Olings Saturday, September 15, 2007 at 18:03 #

    It’s great that you got something out of it. I also thought the Roast Magazine test had some gaps. Thats part of the reason why we did this.

    We will be cupping and carrying out test every week. If you have any suggestions of things you’d like us to test feel free to tell us.

  6. Mark Monday, September 17, 2007 at 2:52 #

    Wow, I’m seriously impressed. I hope the next time you and the wife come to visit in NYC, you won’t turn up your noses at my espresso made in a French press. =+)

  7. Joakim Monday, September 17, 2007 at 16:31 #

    In your next experiment you should have two bags in the freezer. One that is there all the time, and one that is taken out after (let’s say) two weeks and leave it unopened on the shelf for a week or two, before opening and comparing it to the others.

    My hypothesis is that coffee that has been in the freezer and then stored on the shelf for a week or more will taste a lot less than coffee that has “only” been stored on the shelf during the same period.

  8. Joakim Tuesday, September 18, 2007 at 8:40 #

    Oh.. and by the way. Can I use a couple of your pictures on a Wikipedia article regarding cupping? Those without people ;-)

  9. Olings Tuesday, September 18, 2007 at 8:50 #

    Thanks for the interesting feedback Joakim.

    You can use all the pictures without people as long as I have not noted at the bottom of the post that they are taken by Chris. I’d have to ask him first if you wanted one of those. It would be great if you could credit me for the pictures though.

  10. Olings Wednesday, September 19, 2007 at 9:04 #

    Hey, Mark!

    What about instead of the french press espresso we go over to Gimme! or to 9th street and get a decent one… ;)

    I’ll bring some coffee with me that will work in your french press.

    Great to hear from you Mark. It’s been a while!

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