Fresh vs Stale Coffee

Stale coffee is what you get when roasted beans (or grounds) have been oxidized from exposure to oxygen; the more intense the exposure, the more quickly oxidized and stale your coffee will become. Other factors such as heat and moisture can also make oxidation occur. Roasters suggest that you brew your coffee beans as soon as possible after roasting so that you can get the freshest, and best out of your coffee.

Why Does Coffee Go Stale?

Coffee grounds are full of various oils, chemical compounds, and acids. These compounds, referred to collectively as “solubles,” give coffee its flavor. They’re extracted from the grounds in the brewing process and give coffee its unique”coffee” taste and smell. But once those beans touch air, the oxygen begins to exstract their flavor and make them smell different almost immediately by causing coffee solubles to either degrade and oxidize — similar too how iron becomes rusty when it’s exposed to oxygen for too long This is why roasters package their beans in vacuum-sealed containers, so the beans are no longer in contact with oxygen from the air.

Tell if your coffee beans are freshly roasted

Look for a glossy appearance

When coffee beans are roasted, the intense heat evaporates moisture out of the heart of the bean and simultaneously draws out the oil-like substances, which then coat the outside of the bean.  

Check for residue

Pick up a handful of coffee beans if they leave a residue on your hands that means they are oily, and have been freshly roasted. Lighter roasts aren’t as oily, while a darker roast will have more residue.  

Check for a valve in the sealed bag

When beans are roasted under high heat and then cooled, they release a ton of carbon dioxide (CO2). This release of gas can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks after roasting, known as the degassing period. If your sealed bag does not have one of these valves, that likely means that your coffee beans aren’t actively giving off CO2 — and are not likely to be fresh.   If buying in bulk, pop them in a resealable bag and see what happens. Put a half-cup of beans into a resealable plastic bag, press out the air, and let them sit on the kitchen counter over night. If they’ve been freshly roasted within the past seven to 10 days, the bag will puff up from an outgassing of carbon dioxide. If they’re not so fresh, the bag will remain flat.

Keep those beans fresh

Whole coffee beans typically start losing freshness after three weeks, and ground coffee can begin to go stale within an hour of grinding. You can decelerate the rate at which they go stale by keeping them away from excessive air, moisture, heat and light. Transfer the beans or grounds to an airtight container; avoid plastic or metal containers, which can alter the flavor of the coffee. Store the container in a dark, dry spot, such as the bottom shelf of a pantry or a rarely used cupboard. For large quantities of beans or grounds that you won’t immediately use, separate them into small portions, wrap them in airtight packages and place them in the freezer for up to a month.

Newly Discovered Arabica Genetic Group Yemenia Enters the Global Market

Coffee and other crops traditionally grown on terraces in Yemen. All images courtesy of Qima Coffee.

A new genetic group of the arabica coffee (Coffea arabica) species found to have immense quality potential has been confirmed in Yemen. It has been named Yemenia, which can be translated to “the Yemeni mother.”

Yemeni coffee specialist Qima Coffee believes it is the most significant finding in arabica coffee since the centuries-old discoveries of Typica/Bourbon and the SLs, the major arabica groups that have given birth to all the world’s other arabica varieties and cultivars.

“This new group represents a previously unknown group of coffee genetics that has the potential to reshape the coffee world for decades to come,” Qima Coffee said in an announcement shared with DCN late last week. “In addition to the new genetic diversity this discovery will offer to the world, the cup quality of the new group was found to be exceptional.”

coffea arabica genetic tree copy

In partnership with world-renowned coffee geneticist Christophe Montagnon’s company RD2 Vision, Qima Coffee undertook a multi-year research project involving genetic fingerprinting of 137 arabica samples covering 25,000 square kilometers.

While finding many of the world’s cultivated arabica varieties present in Yemen, the research unveiled “an entirely new group of genetics,” according to the researchers. The results of the research have been submitted for publication to the Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution journal.

The discovery of the Yemenia group is also being tied to a market initiative from Qima Coffee in partnership with Cup of Excellence competition and auction organizer the Alliance for Coffee Excellence (ACE), a nonprofit based in Portland, Oregon.

For the first time ever, coffees identified as Yemenia are heading to a public auction through ACE’s second “Private Collection” auction, which is focused entirely on Yemeni coffees sourced through Qima. Last year, prices for the top-scoring lots approached a remarkable $200 per pound.

Journey of Coffee

This year, coffees newly discovered as Yemenia comprise 15 out of the 20 lots heading to a Thursday, Sept. 10. auction. The top five lots, all scoring above 90 points according to a guest jury of 35 cuppers from 14 countries, are all from the Yemenia group.

Unroasted samples of the 20 auction lots are currently available for purchase for $350 through Wednesday, Aug. 26.