Lately there have been an increasing focus on how the coffee is packed at origin and at the roastery. Numerous blogposts and comments on forums have glorified the advantages of new methods of packing green beans and at the same time complaining about the shortcomings of the jute bag. Which gas should be used when flushing the coffee? What kind of metal/plastic material is to be used when vac-pacing? What about grain pro?
I’ve been one of these people singing the praise of vac-pac and nitro flushing at origin. Recently however I started asking myself the question if this might be shooting ourselves in our collective feet.
Firstly. There can be little doubt of the eco-unfriendlyness of all this plastic wrapping being used. Tons and tons of thick plastic or metal-like bags being thrown away. In most cases this is in addition to the jute bags. (It’s still often covered in jute as well).
Secondly. The extra costs of getting the machinery to pack these coffees. Is this where we want mils/farmers/exporters to be spending their cash? What if this money where spent in the field or in the nurseries or on wages to farmers and pickers?
Thirldy. What do we actually know of the advantages of packing greens this way? Is it actually hurting the coffee? There are still many answers to be found out. Is this just another fad of the 3rd wave specialty coffee business?
Ok, so this is what I’m getting at: To me the real problem, the disease if you will, is that the beans don’t get to the roaster soon enough. They stay in the producing countries, often in giant warehouses on the docks in high humidity and heat for a long time. Combatting this with new packing is not treating the disease only the symptom: the coffee fades to fast after arriving at it’s destination.
I think our focus should be on what can be done to improve the logisitcs, the mindset of the people in origin and to get the coffee transported much more quickly to the roastery. This is where the problem lies. Beans are being picked in February and arrives at the roastery in September. This is not only happening because of dirt roads and old lorries. It is also in the mindset of the producers and middle men. Sometimes one gets the feeling that once the samples have been approved and the contracts signed a lot of people at origin lean back and relax and then the months fly by.
If this is actually the thruth, are we being to naive at our end? Should we be demanding the coffee be delivered in a certain amount of weeks and paying for the extra cost this might induce instead of paying for grainpro bags or vac-packing and so on?
I don’t think this is the only and absolute solution. It just surprises me that so many discussions on the fading of coffees and how to keep the greens fresh only revolves around packaging, not where the actual problem lies.
I’m deliberately painting things black and white here to start a discussion. The solution may probably be a bit of both for all I know. What are your thoughts on this?
The picture on top of the post lifted from this page.