Posted on Jun 17, 2010
by David Pohl
There are many ways to store green coffee after it has been processed and prepared for export. Traditionally coffee was put in "jute" - a fiber like burlap. Due to concerns of the "bagginess" of coffees stored in jute too long, coffee exporters have been experimenting with other forms of packaging. We have reported in blogs and Facebook posts on some of the other types of packaging solutions, and in this blog we want to report on a cupping we recently did comparing a one-year old coffee in vac-pac versus the same one-year old coffee in grain-pro.
First of all, vac pac is essentially a process where the coffee is put into 25-50 pound bags, which are then vacuumed to remove all oxygen and sealed at this point. The bag looks like a brick, and if stored properly will retain its shape from the country of origin into our warehouse. Usually the bags are sealed in boxes, to help protect them. The cost per pound for vac-pac is about $.15.
Next we have Grain-pro, a packaging solution that creates a hermetically sealed environment without the vacuum. This technology has been applied to grains for years, and was introduced into coffee in the last decade as exporters and roasters sought ways to protect coffee. It is usually considered the next best thing compared to vac-pac and it is also considerably cheaper at $.05 per pound.
The results of our cupping? The grain-pro coffee was demonstrably more faded and old-crop tasting. The vac-pac was much more fresh, showing after one year almost no aging whatsoever!
Our tentative conclusion from this experiment is that removal of the oxygen from green coffee may truly be the best way to preserve quality over time. We will continue experimenting and reporting back our findings, but for now we feel that boutique grade coffees benefit from being "vac-packed".