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co2 gas flush / infusion in order to lengthen shelf life?
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jpender
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Posted Sat Mar 30, 2013, 9:42am
Subject: Re: co2 gas flush / infusion in order to lengthen shelf life?
 

The last time I bought a can of Illy coffee it was clearly pressurized. I believe they use CO2 (and a rigid, non-permeable metal container) to increase the shelf-life of their coffee, whether whole bean or pre-ground. Once opened they recommend refrigeration for their ground coffee.

In the following excerpt from Espresso Coffee (Illy) the method of flushing coffee beans by introducing liquid CO2 into the container and allowing it to evaporate is mentioned. But dry ice and sublimation should accomplish the same thing.

In inert gas packaging the air inside the container is replaced by inert gas
either through the compensated vacuum technique or by flushing the
inside of the package with inert gas. In the former case, first a vacuum is
created in the package, then enough inert gas to balance the internal and
external pressures is admitted. In the latter case, a drop of liquefied inert
gas is placed on the bottom of the package, which evaporates pushing the
air out. This process generally uses nitrogen or carbon dioxide which,
although not an inert gas, behaves as such in a moisture-free environment
and, moreover, is naturally present in roast coffee. The use of an inert gas
for coffee packaging increases shelf life three-fold (see Table 6.5 [sic]) with
respect to vacuum packaging.



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Netphilosopher
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Posted Sun Mar 31, 2013, 10:17am
Subject: .
 

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emradguy
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Posted Sun Mar 31, 2013, 3:28pm
Subject: Re: co2 gas flush / infusion in order to lengthen shelf life?
 

interesting,  as a home brewer, I tend to have a CO2 tank around, and can easily purge my vessels with it.  I wonder if it's worth it though, considering my current method is to fill a canning jar with beans 2-3 days off roast (via online orders), then allow degassing CO2 purge the vessels of air (lids on loosely) overnight, then tighten down the lids and freeze.  I suppose I could experiment...though I have to admit, I'm probably too lazy to do that?

 
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calblacksmith
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Posted Mon Apr 8, 2013, 2:23pm
Subject: Re: co2 gas flush / infusion in order to lengthen shelf life?
 

I know what Illy says but even if the first beans from a long sealed can under pressure are OK, they spoil VERY quickly after they are opened, at least that is what my track record with them has been, that is why I go for fresh and if I MUST extend the life, seal in zip bags and freeze then open only enough to last a few days at most but then, hey,  YMMV!

 
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jpender
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Posted Mon Apr 8, 2013, 7:38pm
Subject: Re: co2 gas flush / infusion in order to lengthen shelf life?
 

That's interesting.

There is this notion of primary shelf life versus secondary shelf life, the latter being how long the product lasts after it is opened. The only cans of Illy I've ever bought have been various pre-ground versions and I fully expected them to not last very long (and they didn't). But that the whole bean Illy also goes quickly once opened is surprising to me. What does it mean?
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calblacksmith
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Posted Tue Apr 9, 2013, 3:50am
Subject: Re: co2 gas flush / infusion in order to lengthen shelf life?
 

I guess it means that coffee is a food product and it is susceptible to spoiling like any other food product.

 
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Wayne P.
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Netphilosopher
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Posted Tue Apr 9, 2013, 6:36am
Subject: .
 

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jpender
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Posted Tue Apr 9, 2013, 9:24am
Subject: Re: co2 gas flush / infusion in order to lengthen shelf life?
 

I see. You're saying that coffee has a relatively long stage where the degradation is nearly flat. So you wouldn't necessarily be able to tell how far along it is by taste, but one further along would drop off the cliff and go stale sooner.

I thought calblacksmith was saying that the inert gas storage method was somehow accelerating spoilage once the can was opened. But instead it appears that he is just pointing out the obvious fact that canned coffee isn't as fresh as freshly roasted coffee.
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Netphilosopher
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Posted Tue Apr 9, 2013, 11:00am
Subject: .
 

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jpender
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jpender
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Posted Tue Apr 9, 2013, 11:55am
Subject: Re: co2 gas flush / infusion in order to lengthen shelf life?
 

Potato chips opened after 1 week versus 6 months -- do they have a different secondary shelf life? Does a can of soup stored for a month versus two years last longer once opened? I think that the answer to both of these is no. What you've been saying is that coffee is different than these and many other food products in that regard. Even when stored under optimal (room temperature) conditions it continues to age in such a way that its secondary shelf life is compromised. That's not entirely obvious.

And apparently not everybody agrees:

Mané Alves of Coffee Lab International and Vermont Artisan Coffee & Tea, gives the can high marks, "It is the only material that protects the coffee completely. I have been testing materials for eight years and nothing gets even close to the can performance-wise. We cupped six-month-old coffee against a just roasted coffee. The canned coffee tasted exactly like the fresh roast for at least five days, the time that we assume it would take a consumer to go through a 12-ounce can."

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