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How to store coffee beans for 1 month of travel
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nbmac
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Joined: 23 May 2013
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Posted Mon Jun 10, 2013, 8:45am
Subject: How to store coffee beans for 1 month of travel
 

Hi everyone,

I have a question about storing coffee.  I'm heading for a monthlong fieldwork expedition in a part of the world where the coffee is truly terrible, and it's not possible to buy good beans.  After about 24h of flying we'll arrive in a place where we have a refrigerator, blade grinder and french press).

What do you guys think is the best strategy for buying good beans and keeping them decent over the course of the month?  The mason jar route probably isn't practical because we are pretty weight limited.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.
cheers,
Nicholas
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germantownrob
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germantownrob
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Posted Mon Jun 10, 2013, 10:37am
Subject: Re: How to store coffee beans for 1 month of travel
 

I look at it this way, stale beans are better then awful beans. There is no way to extend the life of beans (other then freezing) so best to limit the things that can speed it up like light, oxygen, and heat. A freezer bag works just fine but care should be taken that they will not open up in travel like double bagging and taping the seal.
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dyqik
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Posted Mon Jun 10, 2013, 11:07am
Subject: Re: How to store coffee beans for 1 month of travel
 

What Wayne said.  It's best not to worry about it too much, tbh, as freshly ground month old beans are still better than anything preground or off a supermarket shelf, particularly if you don't have anything to compare to.  Although I would be considering a better hand grinder for French press than a blade grinder.

Having tasted the alternatives (e.g. Nescafe 3in1 - might as well be the lubricant of the same name - in hotels in Taiwan), freshly ground good beans even a couple of months old taste wonderful.

One warning about the bags - there's a good chance that they might attract attention if you are are flying places - everytime I've flown with beans I've had TSA notifications in my suitcase when I arrived.  Some people still believe that coffee beans are a good way of hiding the smell of drugs.   Double sealed bags may well be opened with a knife, and I think it's best to make it easy for security agents to open and check the bag and reseal it neatly.
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nbmac
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Joined: 23 May 2013
Posts: 22
Location: Boston
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Andreja Premium, Cremina
Grinder: VPharos, Lido2
Posted Mon Jun 10, 2013, 11:38am
Subject: Re: How to store coffee beans for 1 month of travel
 

Sage advice.  I hadn't thought of the freezer bags.
Thanks.
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Buckley
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Joined: 25 Jan 2011
Posts: 423
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Posted Tue Jun 11, 2013, 3:29am
Subject: Re: How to store coffee beans for 1 month of travel
 

It sounds like you are going a a really hot place this time of year and perhaps with monsoon weather.  Also, if there is anything resembling a refrigerator it is likely that the electricity is a sometimes thing.  This is why terrible coffee is king.  Oxygen, moisture and heat are coffee's enemies.  I have two suggestions.  One entails abandoning coffee and the second preserves coffee.
First, develop a taste for the local drinks.  Tea is very likely available and think of it as your overall month-long immersion into the experience.  Or partake of the dreaded 'triple coffee'.  It helps if you do not think of it as coffee, think of it as some exotic, foreign local substance, like toddy or snake bile.  If you are going to a monastery where caffeine is not available, do not worry.  Your coffee craving will abate down to manageable levels in ten days or so.
Second, if you must preserve coffee, the individual bags are a good idea, but take as many as needed so you only open a small portion of your stash at a time.  It helps if you buy moisture-absorbing and oxygen-scavenging packets to seal into your coffee bags, otherwise keeping them sealed will not do much for the oxygen tension, moisture adhesion and temperature factors that produce staling.  These are available for less than ten dollars per bunch on Amazon.  Regarding temperature, even water baths become spit-warm in the tropics.  It sounds desperate, but burying them in a hole in the ground often becomes one's coolest option.  In this case, double bag each packet.  If you are worried about security opening everything, just store the coffee in one big bag and the absorbant packets in their own bags until you arrive, then quickly divide and parcel everything out, and seal.
Both suggestions have been field tested by me and both work, each in their own way.

Buckley
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