Storage experiment part 3: The second cupping

5 Sep

Cup and spoon
Today was week 3 of the storage experiment. The coffees had today been stored for 3 weeks in the freezer, fridge and on the shelf. It was time for the second cupping.

For people reading about this experiment for the first time it’s important to read the two preceding post.

I took the bags out early to make sure they were properly thawed before the tasting started. The proceedings went on as last time, and todays cuppers were Tim Varney (espressobar manager at Tim Wendelboes), Tim Wendelboe himself (coming in to the cupping at a late point but adding valuable input), Chris Kolbu (part-time barista and recently returned from vacation. He came in to the cupping a bit later on), an unsuspecting customer wanting to participate in our daily cuppings and finally myself.

Today I included a control sample in our line-up; a La Esperanza roasted a week ago to the same roast degree. It proved to make an interesting point.

In this cupping we gave the coffees 6 points for first place, 4 for second, 2 for third and 0 points for fourth place.

The jury seemed a bit divided, and even though the points added up to give us a order to rank the coffees in the end there wasn’t a clear consensus. Two of the cuppers actually preffered the coffee having been stored on the shelf for three weeks to the fresh control sample. Their names remain secret to protect them from shame and utter humiliation…

So without further ado I present this weeks ranking of the stored coffee (the difference from last week being of course that we included the control sample, and if you exclude it you get the results to compare with last weeks cupping):

1st place: The control sample with 26 points
2nd place: The shelf stored coffee with 14 points
3rd place: The fridge stored coffee with 10 points
4th place: The freezer stored coffee with 8 points

The conclusion is that the coffees seemed closer this time around than they did last time. The shelf stored coffee still seem to have an edge, but the two other samples are scored mostly equally. The descriptions given by the cuppers also seemed to put all three storage methods closer together and it seems like that at this point three weeks into the experiment there isn’t that much of a positive difference between the storage options. It’s also clear in my mind (even though the two unnamed cuppers inadvertently gave 6 points to the shelf stored coffee instead of the control sample) that to store coffee for this long should be avoided if possible.

What will happen next week when we cup the last three bags of the experiment? Will the shelf stored coffee finally be dethroned? Is it better to store your coffee in the fridge if you’re going away on holiday for 4 weeks and don’t want to throw away your coffee beans? Keep tuned for the final installment next Wednesday.

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.

Picture taken by Chris Kolbu


6 Responses to “Storage experiment part 3: The second cupping”

  1. aaron Thursday, September 6, 2007 at 22:48 #

    Nice work so far! I’m very glad to see people working to push the boundaries of coffee excellence.

    I think your results are quite predictable in that after so long a time all roasted coffee is going to basically start to taste the same regardless of how you store it. Your control sample seems to confirm this.

    That’s why I believe your experiment helps confirm that some more relevant conversations to freshness are happening on the greens side of the equation. Once the sugars have been broken down via Maillard and Strecker, I don’t believe there is much of anything that can be done to help save them. It’s like trying to hold sand or water in your hands while running. But storing intact sugar/amino chains (storing greens) means you have stronger chemical bonds with which to work when you do thaw, and can effectively do so for a much longer period.

  2. aaron Thursday, September 6, 2007 at 22:49 #

    Great pics, too! Nice work all around.

  3. Olings Friday, September 7, 2007 at 9:35 #

    Thanks Aaron.

    As far as the predictability is concerned I know similar experiments have been done before and that greens store better, but this is not why we did it. It’s purely done to experience these things for ourselves to have a firsthand knowedge of excactly how the degradation happens (or rather what the effects of it are) and if there is any difference between the storage methods. There were differences between but they were greater last week, and I expect them to become greater again next week. The freezing and then thawing puts a strain on the coffee, but the actual storage in the freezer is perhaps slightly better than when stored at room temperature. So over time it might just be a little bit less detrimental. I guess we will see next week.

    Thanks for your comments. I belive that there is no absolute truth to be found, and I welcome a discussion on the subject.

  4. mentness Tuesday, September 11, 2007 at 5:44 #

    Great series of posts Olings, I’m sure I’ll be quoting you in these in the future.

    Just changed my blog again. What do you think? Does it make more sense now.

  5. Olings Wednesday, September 12, 2007 at 21:34 #

    Keep on quoting and sending traffic this way. 😉

    Your blog looks good Stuart. Lots of interesting stuff. Good luck with your traing for the UKBC!


  1. The Absurd Latte Art contest (voting, prizes, etc) at jimseven - Thursday, September 6, 2007

    […] other news Ola’s part three is up,  and I hopefully have a really cool project to post about […]

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