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Freshness and Packaging

Short version: I believe that fancy coffee packaging and valves are expensive and overrated. Spending that money on higher quality coffee beans is a better way to go. High quality coffee beans that I can get into your hands quickly is far more important.

Full blog:

A couple years ago, a coffee roaster here in Flagstaff was closing up shop, so I decided to check out their operation and look into buying their roaster. As it turns out, their roaster was a beast costs around $35k new, so I decided to pass on it and use a converted BBQ Grill that has a similar capacity, same roast quality (if you know what you are doing), and is much less expensive. It was something like this:

But what really grabbed my attention was their packaging. They used custom color printed labels stuck onto some sort of foil/plastic sealed bags with the valves. Not only do those bags take up more landfill space, but they add a couple dollars per bag to their cost. Which is why they were selling their roasted coffee for $16-$18 per 12oz bag online, far too much for me.

Was it worth it? Does the packaging keep the coffee fresh longer? Not really.

When coffee is roasted, it begins a degassing phase where the coffee lets off CO2 gas. This process takes a few days. Before the degassing is completed, you can note a grassy/woody "wild" flavor to the coffee, and the espresso crema or French Press foam is far more noticeable than coffee that has been degassing for a few days/weeks. The valves are designed to keep the oxygen out of the bag, while letting this CO2 escape. Unfortunately, the yummy flavor smell also escapes - grab a bag with a valve sometime and give it a squeeze. You'll definitely smell the coffee. And once you open the bag, the oxygen enters anyway.

I have been using the simple Kraft paper & poly lined bags for years now, and have found that while they are not airtight, they do an admirable job at protecting the beans from air, water drops, and UV rays that make the coffee grow stale. And since I put the coffee in the mail, the pickup box, or deliver them to you so quickly after roasting, I am not convinced that the valves and fancy packages are worth it. By the time the degassing is finished, you're already grinding the coffee. If anything, I would recommend using a sealed coffee canister if you use the coffee over the course of a month or more. This is the one that we use:

Am I wrong? Am I crazy? What do you think? Shoot me a message here or post on my Facebook page. Being a new micro company, I'm very open to all of your thoughts and suggestions.

I don't claim to have all the answers, but this is the plan I am going with for now: Buy high quality beans, using the same coffee bean suppliers as the big expensive roasting companies. Keep the packaging simple - Kraft bags and rubber stamps. Obsess with coffee freshness. I roast to order and then get you the beans as fast as possible. I always stamp the roast date on each bag, so that you will know exactly how recently they were roasted.

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