Storage experiment part 2: The first cupping

29 Aug

So today it’s been 2 weeks since we put the bags of coffee in the freezer, fridge and on the shelf as I’ve described in my previous post. It was time to taste the first three bags. Originally we described the flavour of the coffee as being fresh and fruity with a light citrusy acidity. The taste is of light red berries and it has a clean and sweet finish.

When I took the bags of coffee out I noticed straight away that there seemed to be more air in the bag stored in the fridge, whilst the bag stored in the fridge was moist on the outside. We left the bags of coffee on the counter to thaw and to reach room temperature.

I organized everything as a normal cupping; weighing up the beans to a ratio of 55 grams per liter. To our cupping cups this means 12 grams of coffee.olas-supereksperiment-007.jpg

We examined the leftover beans for possible visual differences and it turned out that the beans left on the shelf had gotten an oily sheen, the beans from the fridge where quite matt with the beans stored in the fridge being somewhere inbetween. The coffee was roasted for french press and other normal brewing devices and were lighter than for espresso. They were dumped before second crack so they did not have an oily sheen to begin with.olas-supereksperiment-017.jpg

We lined up six different cups with the three different beans (two of each) and randomized them. I had marked the cups underneath so we could see which was which after the cupping.olas-supereksperiment-023.jpg

Tim (Varney) and I started the cupping and smelled the grinds before adding water. There where some differences in the strength of smell. The one from the freezer had the most intense smell when it was dry with the ones from the shelf coming in second. After adding water the beans having being stored in the fridge had the strongest aroma with the ones from the shelf still coming second.olas-supereksperiment-030.jpg

Tim (Wendelboe) and Ingrid joined in after we had broken the crust and had let the cup cool enough to taste. We weren’t completely in sync, but we finally reached the conclusion that the coffee having been stored on the shelf retained more sweetness and had a better acidity. The beans from the freezer had become more flat and boring, not showing any of the pleasant acidity that had been in the original cup. The beans having been stored in the fridge had become bitter and unpleasant and were rated dead last.

The final score after two weeks of storage is:
1. Shelf
2. Freezer
3. Fridge

I can’t wait until next week when we take out the next three bags and see what has happend after another seven days of storage has passed. Has the fridge-beans kept better than the others or does the conclusions remain the same? Will Chris have anything to add to the taste panel when he returns from his vacation in Bulgaria? Keep tuned in for the exciting next installment.

Please keep in mind that there are several aspects of the storing of beans we have left out completely to make the experiment more managable (repeatedly opening and closing of bags, different storage containers etc), and that these aspects might have an impact when you store your beans. We have only used one way valve bags and left them unopened in the different places of storage before cupping them.


5 Responses to “Storage experiment part 2: The first cupping”

  1. rob Thursday, August 30, 2007 at 9:12 #

    Great experiment, even though the results are just as i expected, although my guess is the freezer beans are going to take over from the shelf ones in a couple weeks. Certainly if you’re going to make espresso’s.
    We keep an eye on it.
    Antwerp Barista

  2. Olings Thursday, August 30, 2007 at 15:56 #

    The results where as expected indeed, but even though I liked to test it for myself. Just to clarify; this blog is not Tims blog but the blog of Ola, the roastmaster at Tims roastery AKA me. I’m not conducting the test to come up with a universal truth, just to get some background for the recomendation we give to costumers on how to store their beans. Roast magazine did a more thorough test in their latest issue (, but they didn’t include the time aspect which I thought would be significant; therefore this test.

  3. The Onocoffee Thursday, August 30, 2007 at 20:49 #

    Sounds like a great experiment! For our purposes, we regularly freeze our roast stock and have found that the freezing (in one-way valved, sealed bags) halts the development process until thawing.

    Did you say in the entry that the coffee is stored in “opened” bags?

  4. Olings Friday, August 31, 2007 at 8:22 #

    The bags were all sealed shut and not opened until after being completely thawed. I had a thought that for shorter epriods of time freezing the bags wouldn’t be as good as storing them on the shelf, but that this would change to the advantage of the freezer over time.



  1. An interesting storage experiment at jimseven - Thursday, August 30, 2007

    […] on within Tim Wendelboe’s roastery and blogged about here.   Worth keeping an eye […]

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