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food safety of cold brew coffee - specifically botulism
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john1234
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Joined: 19 Jun 2013
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Location: Carrboro
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Wed Jun 19, 2013, 9:13pm
Subject: food safety of cold brew coffee - specifically botulism
 

I was wondering if anyone could comment about the risk of botulism with cold brew coffee.  In my case, I plan to prepare cold brew coffee and bottle it as if it were what stumptown makes.

what options do I have for pasteurization and/or storage?  What process does stumptown or any other cold brew coffee producer use?

If anyone is interested, I have a more through write-up about my cold brew process here, on reddit

Here are my thoughts: botulism likes anerobic conditions - basically any sealed container.  However, if the container is very acidic, in the case of tomatoes, or pasteurized, in the case of pretty much any canned food, botulism is not a concern. Also, botulism should normally not grown at refrigeration temperature, but I want something that doesn't necessarily need to be kept cold.
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calblacksmith
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calblacksmith
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Posted Thu Jun 20, 2013, 5:56am
Subject: Re: food safety of cold brew coffee - specifically botulism
 

John
Welcome.
Honestly, I advise you to consult a professional in this field. We LOVE to talk coffee but few are qualified to give advice on what you seek.

 
In real life, my name is
Wayne P.
Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
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Buckley
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Joined: 25 Jan 2011
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Posted Thu Jun 20, 2013, 6:37am
Subject: Re: food safety of cold brew coffee - specifically botulism
 

Dear John1234,
I do not know where you get your concern over botulism.  There are only 100-200 cases of botulism in the U.S. every year, of which only 10-20% is associated with food source.  Coffee is not a known vehicle for botulism.  I would be more concerned over enterococcus (e. coli), but you describe a good sterilization technique in your prospectus.  Still, make sure you follow good handwashing guidlines.  The most prevalent organism associated with coffee are species of Aspergillium and Penicillium, some of which can produce ochratoxin A, a potent fungal mycotoxin.  Please see my post on this forum http://coffeegeek.com/forums/coffee/general/630128.
If you are planning a commercial venture, it is not necessary but up to you if you want to find a reputable food laboratory to assay your product for contamination, but learn ahead of time what the results in CFU (colony-forming unit) concentration would mean to you or to the authorities, since some contamination will always be reported.  State agricultural offices may be a big help here.  You will not find many laboratories equipped to assay for ochratoxin A or aflatoxin B1, but, if you know how to access biomedical research, you can find universities that do this work.  If you are interested, you can write a paper on mycotoxins in cold-brewed coffee in conjunction with one of the grad students.  I am sure that they will be interested.  Labs that use gas or other chromatography are more reliable with labs that use radio-immune assay technique, since caffeine cross-reacts with mycotoxin reagents used in RIAs.  If you go this route you will be interested in continuing to assay your cold brew in this manner periodically because the fungal burden of the beans you buy will change over time.  Of course, all of this is over and above what you need to do to satisfy standard commercial regulations for selling food items.  If you just want to go into business, just get your local and state guidelines.
As far as pasteurization is concerned, you can use home pasteurizing techniques that, in my opinion, would likely degrade the cold brew.  Perhaps not;  try it.  The latest thing is HPP, or high pressure pasteurization which is causing a big growth in the fruit smoothie industry right now.  It uses lower heat.  "Cold pasteurization" uses ionizing radiation, which can be as destructive to cold-processed food as the heat it is supposed to replace.  That is why smoothy companies are so excited about HPP.  These are too expensive to be done at home unless you are an ace inventor.
Did I talk too much?  Sorry.

Buckley
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VKirby
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Posted Thu Jun 20, 2013, 6:49am
Subject: Re: food safety of cold brew coffee - specifically botulism
 

John, what are you doing?
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rmongiovi
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Posted Thu Jun 20, 2013, 10:36pm
Subject: Re: food safety of cold brew coffee - specifically botulism
 

From Wikipedia:

Clostridium botulinum is a rod-shaped microorganism. It is an obligate anaerobe, meaning that oxygen is poisonous to the cells. However, C. botulinum tolerates traces of oxygen due to the enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD) which is an important antioxidant defense in nearly all cells exposed to oxygen.

So unless you brew your coffee in a mostly oxygen free environment, that would not be what I would worry about.

There is one caveat, however.  The intestinal tract of a newborn is a mostly anaerobic environment.  Were you to feed a newborn something containing botulin spores it's possible that they could grow in the baby's intestines and give it botulism.  That's why you aren't supposed to give an infant less than a year old raw honey.  I don't think I'd be giving one coffee either, but for completely different reasons.

You normally worry about botulism from canned goods since they're a sealed oxygen free environment.  Canned coffee, anyone?
Roy
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john1234
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Joined: 19 Jun 2013
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Location: Carrboro
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Fri Jun 21, 2013, 2:51pm
Subject: Re: food safety of cold brew coffee - specifically botulism
 

@buckley
Perfect!

My botulism concern is mostly derived from the fact that I'm sealing a container (read: anerobic environment) with some type of food item and storing it room temperature for some period of time.

I am in school at a major medical school and have done lab work in another major medical school - perhaps I can track down a lab that does an assay for ochratoxin A or aflatoxin B1.  I think for my purposes, it doesn't really matter - cold brewing and bottling vs hot brewing won't change the level of the toxins already in the coffee.  I'll be careful to keep my work space clean.

I agree about the pasteurization - I would be hesitant about using a technique that would degrade the quality of my coffee.  I'm really curious to see what process is used by the commercial cold brew producers, however, I think they might not be to willing to share their trade secrets.


This is totally an at home venture, I don't plan to make a commercial product, nor do I plan to sell it.  

So bottom line - I don't have much to worry about if I use good sterile and sanitary methods.
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john1234
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Joined: 19 Jun 2013
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Location: Carrboro
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Fri Jun 21, 2013, 3:01pm
Subject: Re: food safety of cold brew coffee - specifically botulism
 

@rmongiovi
Well I am using CO2 to purge the keg/brewing container and the bottles of oxygen - this is a pretty standard method used in beer brewing to keep oxygen out (oxygen+beer=skunky taste).  I'll also be boiling the water before hand which will also remove some oxygen.

The purpose behind this is to keep my coffee from going stale for as long as possible. I'm not actually sure if it will help.

So that's my big worry.   I wonder what stumptown and other cold brew coffee producers do...

With canned food or at least home canned food, the oxygen free environment comes from the boiling of the can before sealing.  Obviously I won't boil the bottles before I close them up.

@VKirby

See the reddit link I posted.  I basically want to make homemade bottled cold brew coffee in 50 bottle batches for home consumption.
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jpender
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jpender
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Posted Fri Jun 21, 2013, 4:20pm
Subject: Re: food safety of cold brew coffee - specifically botulism
 

Blue Bottle claimed to use a cold pasteurization method. Irradiation?
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coffeeguydenton
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Joined: 20 Jun 2013
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Posted Mon Jun 24, 2013, 7:03am
Subject: Re: food safety of cold brew coffee - specifically botulism
 

john1234 Said:

@buckley
Perfect!

My botulism concern is mostly derived from the fact that I'm sealing a container (read: anerobic environment) with some type of food item and storing it room temperature for some period of time.

I am in school at a major medical school and have done lab work in another major medical school - perhaps I can track down a lab that does an assay for ochratoxin A or aflatoxin B1.  I think for my purposes, it doesn't really matter - cold brewing and bottling vs hot brewing won't change the level of the toxins already in the coffee.  I'll be careful to keep my work space clean.

I agree about the pasteurization - I would be hesitant about using a technique that would degrade the quality of my coffee.  I'm really curious to see what process is used by the commercial cold brew producers, however, I think they might not be to willing to share their trade secrets.


This is totally an at home venture, I don't plan to make a commercial product, nor do I plan to sell it.  

So bottom line - I don't have much to worry about if I use good sterile and sanitary methods.

Posted June 21, 2013 link

Where do you attend school?  I, too, am a medical school student.

Botulinum toxin is not a heat stable toxin, so the roasting process would destroy any preformed toxin.  The issue would be the spores, which could survive roasting.  This is a problem in babies because the spores can germinate in their gut, but in adults the normal flora should prevent that.  I do not believe that coffee itself would provide the nutrient rich environment needed for the spores to germinate, though I am no microbiologist and could be wrong.
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john1234
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Joined: 19 Jun 2013
Posts: 4
Location: Carrboro
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Mon Jun 24, 2013, 3:14pm
Subject: Re: food safety of cold brew coffee - specifically botulism
 

@coffeeguydenton

Yea, I would imagine that the spores would probably die during roasting, but thats not the issue - spores could easily enter themselves during some part of the post roast process.

 I do not believe that coffee itself would provide the nutrient rich environment needed for the spores to germinate, though I am no microbiologist and could be wrong.

That is my huge concern/question - could cold brew coffee support botulism growth.

Edit:  I'm at duke university, but not MD, but PA.
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