Make Good Coffee Co. roastery opening!

in Brewing Coffee, Buying Coffee, Coffee and You, Coffee Gear, Coffee News, Coffee Travel, Coffees of the World, Serving Coffee, Storing Coffee

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I’m so happy to finally announce that the Make Good Coffee Co. roastery is now open, and the online store will go live on November 9th, shipping throughout North America.

After blogging about coffee, traveling to coffee growing countries, and meeting and interviewing coffee roasters for almost ten years, I’m so excited to finally open my own roastery based out of San Diego, California.

There are two things I want to accomplish with this roastery, and both of them are behind the word Good in Make Good Coffee.

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“Good” should mean a quality cup of coffee that you look forward to making for yourself.  I go to bed thinking about how good the coffee is going to be when I wake up.  My goal is to know coffee roasting as well as it can be known.  I want to make the best coffee I can make, and never stop pursuing that goal.

“Good” should also mean that we can do good when we buy coffee.  In the coffee supply chain, there is nobody that works harder or makes the least for themselves than coffee farmers.  Many are dedicated to providing the best coffee, and if we help them remain sustainable by providing them with a fair price, then we help families and communities.  And in return, we continue getting the best coffee from them.  In my coffee travels, I’ve seen schools and health care facilities built in coffee communities that have been allowed to prosper.

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I’ve spent the year roasting coffee, from the Boot Coffee course in San Francisco last December, to home roasting all my own (and friends’) coffee, and reading as much as I can.  I can recite the owner’s manual for my roaster.  I’ve spent the last several weeks perfecting my first three coffees.  They will be:

- Medium Roast Panama coffee
- Dark Roast Malawi AA coffee
- Marc’s Premium: Sumatra Peaberry coffee

Come visit the Make Good Coffee Co. Store on November 9th, shipping throughout North America!  Take the Coffee Quiz that asks you a few questions about what you’re looking for, and recommends a coffee based on your choices.  And start making good coffee!

 

Coffee Beans in the Fish Truck

in Storing Coffee

Over lunch yesterday, my friends and I had the always spirited debate about keeping coffee in the freezer.  Coffee is perishable and it’s tastiest when it’s fresh, so naturally people assume it’s a good idea to freeze it when not making any.

The first observation to ever tip me off otherwise was that I’d never seen a freezer in a roastery or cafe.

In fact, I was once told that the drastic change in temperature from freezing to thawed does indeed affect the freshness and flavor of the coffee.

The biggest reason not to store coffee in the fridge or freezer is because coffee naturally absorbs odors from what’s around it.  Those odors will certainly affect the flavor of the coffee that absorbs them.  Your fridge and freezer contains many foods and therefore, many odors. 

The best story I ever heard was from a friend who drives a truck for a living.  He told me that when they were hauling loads of fish, they would throw cheap coffee beans into the back of the truck with the fish!  He doesn’t drink coffee, but he and his fellow drivers knew of coffee’s powerful ability to absorb odors, and used it for stinky loads.  I asked him if it really killed the smell of fish in his truck.  His answer…”kind of”.

Only buy as much coffee at one time as you plan to drink in a week or two.  Do not buy the giant tin of ground coffee because it’s economical.  It’s not just cheap coffee, but it will be stale before you finish it, if it isn’t already stale when you bought it.  Buy whole coffee beans, and grind them right before you brew.  Keep your beans in an opaque airtight container at room temperature.  Learn more about properly Storing Coffee.

A Tale of Too Many Coffees

in Buying Coffee, Storing Coffee

Coffee is best when it’s fresh, and it’s FRESHEST 2-3 weeks after it was roasted.  This means a few things:

1) You should buy your coffee from a place where you know it was roasted recently.  It wasn’t roasted recently if it comes in a big tin pre-ground, or if it’s instant.  Also, the friendly staff at Starbucks probably don’t know how recently their whole bean coffee was roasted.  Go to a local roaster.

2) Only buy as much coffee as you intend to consume over the next 2-3 weeks.  For me, that means two trips to my local roaster each month to buy a pound at a time.  I go through a pound of coffee every 2 weeks, the average person probably 2-3 weeks so I definitely suggest buying one pound at a time.

3) Finally, do as I say and not as I do

I currently have SIX different coffees in the house.  You’ll see by the pic above that not only have I had to label them individually with masking tape and a Sharpie marker, but one of them is still in an unopened bag and one of them is in a tupperware container because I’ve run out of coffee cans.

The last time I had to deal with a coffee overstock, it was because I had just bought some at the same time as some friends had gifted me with some.  That happened to me again, but at the same time, I’ve made two separate unplanned trips to my local roaster and couldn’t help myself but get more while I was there!

Here’s what I have in-house to work through:

I’ll talk about the coffees individually at a different time.  For now, what’s important is deciding how to handle this situation so that I can enjoy these great coffees before they go stale.  It may help to read about my last coffee overstock situation.  The circumstances here are a little different, so my guideline going forward is all about balance.

There has to be an order (even if there are ties) for which ones I want to drink the most.  If I want to enjoy them at their best and drink them first, it means the others will go stale faster.  If I drink the least fresh ones first because the fresher ones have time before they go as stale, I’m likely to be drinking all of this coffee in a less than premium freshness.  And those are the three factors that I will need to weigh against each other as I make daily decisions on which one to grind and brew:

1) Roasting date: The more recently it was roasted, the fresher it is.

2) Preference: Which ones am I most interested in.

3) Quantity: How much do I need to go through, and is there a little left of any of them to go through those quickly.
The Triple-Peckered Billy Goat coffee was roasted the furthest back, and I have about a half-pound of it left.  It is also the one I’m least interested in.  I may not get to it at all.

The Fire Roasted Coffee in Costa Rican and Peruvian were roasted at approximately the same time – a week ago – and I am interested in each of them very much because they are both new to me from this roaster.  I will make these a priority, but I have some time to get to them.

The Fire Roasted Coffee in Kenyan was just purchased today.  I’m very anxious to try this one again from my local roaster but I have some time since it was roasted within the last few days.  In fact, I could go a week without touching this one, but just couldn’t help myself buying it today.

The Planet Bean blends, Freedom Fighter and Morning Glory, were probably roasted a couple weeks back.  They’re both very good and I don’t want to waste either of them.  They were also gifted to me in half-pounds so there isn’t that much left of either of them.  I’ll make them an immediate priority as well since they won’t last long.

And of course, that one idea that always slips my mind…there’s always the option to pass some on to good friends that enjoy good coffee.  Does anybody want this Billy Goat coffee or did I already mention it didn’t make the short list?

Coffee chemistry from an expert

in Storing Coffee

The following great information is from long-time guest John Hayes.  Just when you think you know everything, somebody with a particular background can show you how much more there is to learn.
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I’m a chemist.  I’m a senior, graduating this spring and moving on to grad school, hopefully, and I can tell you that storing coffee in any kind of plastic container is a bad idea because plastic is porous. While it might not let water in and out to the naked eye, at the molecular level, it does allow a very slow dissipation of atmospheric oxygen in and out.



Most of the reason coffee goes “bad” is because it goes rancid, that is, the naturally-occurring unsaturated fatty acids in the coffee oxidize, which is caused by reaction with oxygen, especially in the presence of light. So, believe it or not, if you were to put some coffee in a plastic bag or container and leave it on your windowsill, it would probably taste pretty different after a week. After a while, it’s just going to taste sour and disgusting because humans are built to detect rancid things.  It’s a sign that something is too aged to eat in nature.

If you don’t clean your coffeemaker and notice that it smells like, well, smells bad, you’re smelling rancid coffee, the reason people need to use soap and water on everything coffee comes into contact with (coffeemaker parts), as you properly state on the site. Soap will remove these fatty acids.

For storage, what I did was get a glass jar from Wal-Mart, the kind that clamps the lid down onto the jar and has a rubber seal, and then I put that in a dark corner in my kitchen. This alone makes one heck of a difference. My dad used a fairly robust Tupperware container for his coffee for the longest time, and I converted him to these things and he loves them. With these glass jars, the coffee will stay brand new for at least two weeks. After a month, there is a slight loss in freshness since no seal is perfect, but it’s still very tolerable.

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Thank you, John, great contribution.

Tips for getting through LOTS of coffee

in Storing Coffee

Good coffee is fresh coffee.  And coffee is only going to stay its freshest inside of (roughly) two to three weeks of when you bought it.  If you buy coffee from a grocery store instead of a good coffee shop or online source that takes this into consideration, then it’s less than three weeks.  Learn more about the Golden Rules of Good Coffee.


I go through approximately a pound of coffee every 2-3 weeks. That means I shouldn’t have much more than a pound in the house at any given time.  The problem is that for various reasons, I now have over SIX pounds of coffee in storage.  Here’s how I handled it and some tips on how you should manage your own overstock of coffee to ensure it stays fresh.

These tips are alternatives to freezing the coffee, as many people do.  Unfortunately, coffee is different from other perishable goods and freezing your coffee is NOT a good idea.  Learn more about Storing Coffee.  We need to be more creative.

1. Don’t roast your green coffee
Most coffee drinkers don’t roast their own beans at home, and I do so mostly as a hobby.  As you’ll see going through these tips, I have way more roasted than unroasted coffee.  Coffee only really starts going stale after it’s been roasted.  Unroasted coffee can keep for up to two years.  So if you’re working through a coffee overstock at home, put your green coffee at the back of the cupboard and focus on what’s been roasted.

In my stock, that includes a pound of Guatemalan coffee and a pound of Hawaiian coffee that I bought from the Fire Roasted Coffee Company (FRCC) on my first visit there.  It also includes a pound of Nicaraguan coffee recommended to me by the Green Beanery‘s roastmaster on my recent visit there.

2. Pick your spots.
A logistician will tell you that there are at least two ways of managing inventory: first-in first-out or last-in first-out.  You either want to brew the coffee that’s been roasted the longest so that you can enjoy it before it goes any more stale, or you want to brew the coffee that’s been roasted the most recently so that out of your overstock, you’ll at least get some amazing pots of fresh coffee.  If you brew in the order that the coffee has been roasted, it means you will KIND OF enjoy all of the coffee on hand.  If you brew what’s been roasted most recently, it means you will REALLY enjoy half of what’s on hand while the other half continues to get more stale before you get to it.

This one is to your personal taste.  Because I buy my coffee carefully and from good sources only, all of my coffee is relatively fresh.  For that reason, I’ll brew what’s been roasted the longest before it gets any more stale and will miss out on that amazing pot of the coffee that was more recently roasted.

For me, this includes working through two coffees right away.  First of all, the last of a pound of Starbucks House Blend that I’ve had for over a month now.  I really like this coffee and even after a month, it still tastes great to me, if not quite as fresh.  Following that, a pound of Kauai Coffee Company’s Blue Mountain Peaberry.  I bought this one right from the plantation itself so I’m confident it can sit a little longer before showing signs of starting to go stale.

3. Invest in a vacuum sealer.
Meant to keep perishable items lasting longer, this is my last resort for coffee I can’t get to within the next three weeks.  I have two pounds of coffee in this category, both of which recommended to me by David Cook of the FRCC.  One is a Kenyan coffee, the other an Ethiopian Harrar.  These remain in the FRCC’s retail and airtight packaging and even before giving them the benefit of opaque, room-temperature storage behind the cupboard door, I have vacuum-sealed the packages themselves.  This will add a few days to the fresh clock of these coffees as they are now truly airtight, if even there was some air escaping from the retail packaging.

4. Share
Oh yeah, there’s always the option to share with other coffee lovers.  Why let good coffee go bad when you know people that would help you enjoy it, and enjoy it while it’s still fresh?  I have a friend with a soft spot for New Guinea, and while it has nothing to do with their coffee necessarily, I knew he’d enjoy one of the more underappreciated coffees of the world, so I passed on a half-pound of it. This friend doesn’t have a grinder at home, so I had to grind it for him. Ground coffee expires at a faster rate than even roasted whole beans, so I’ve let him know he’s got to drink it fast!