Gerry07 Senior Member Joined: 16 Feb 2007 Posts: 22 Location: Dublin Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: Expobar Brewtus 3 Grinder: Mahlkonig Vario
Posted Thu Jul 17, 2008, 12:28am Subject: How to Tell if Coffee is Stale
I was recently given a pressie of some Starbucks Coffee Beans(from the states). It was/is a 2lb bag of House Blend in a green bag with Kirkland Signature written on the top. It had been opened but was still full. As I would not typically buy Starbucks Coffee my first inclination was to toss it but as it has a Fair Trade stamp I did not like to waste it. What it does not have is a Best Before date or one that I can see. I did try a shot and it's a fairly dark roast with a slightly burnt taste in the cup of cappa. The actual bean is a blend of arabica, a dark bean that is quite easily crushed between forefinger and thumb. The fact that I can crush a bean so easily leads me to suspect it is stale or at the least over roasted. Would appericate some feedback.
Thanks guys, having tasted it it deffo does taste burnt. I get all my beans(Already Roasted) from Hasbean in the UK so I will not be drinking the SB's blend but I also detest waste and after all someone worked hard to harvest the beans and a lot of energy was expended to fly the beans half way around the world. I think I will grind it as needed for the French Press for guests. If they complain well and good.
BrownWater Senior Member Joined: 1 Mar 2006 Posts: 230 Location: Ithaca, NY Expertise: I live coffee
Espresso: La Pavoni Pro Grinder: Super Jolly Drip: Cuisinart Roaster: fluid air
Posted Sun Jul 20, 2008, 5:48am Subject: Re: How to Tell if Coffee is Stale
IF you make a pot of coffee witih it the resulting brew will be very bland like a coffee flavored water. If you're making espresso you'll get little to no crema and the shot will go blond very quickly.
Chang94598 Senior Member Joined: 24 Oct 2007 Posts: 213 Location: SF Bay Area
Posted Wed Jul 23, 2008, 7:26pm Subject: Re: How to Tell if Coffee is Stale
If the coffee is not rancid, you can grind and use it for cold French press. Put triple to quadruple the amount of coffee you would normally use for hot French press, and use COLD water. Stir, and put the brew in the refrigerator overnight. Next day push down the plunger, and serve the coffee over ice. It actually makes a drink that is not overly bitter, usually associated with Charbucks beans.
I don't understand the bag opened test. If you open a bag but use it in the next few days, you should be okay.
1 or 2 weeks is not a good rule of thumb either. I just finished some excellent coffee that was roasted on the 4th. It was a Best of Panama 2007 coffee that originally sold for 36 per 12oz. I got it at $9 for 12oz with a free tin with a one way valve because it was over 2 weeks old. However, the coffee started out being so bold and flavorfull that even at over 2 week past roast, it was delicious and had crema. Extraction was good. It did start to taste bad perhaps 4 days later, but I split it up into individual 8ounce mason jars to help keep it fresh as I used it.
The taste test is good, but be careful to make sure you fiddle with the parameters and try to get a good extraction before determining that it's really stale and tastes horrible. Lack of crema is also a good indication because this means it's really old. The over 2 week old Panama coffee still had plenty of crema. But even when it started to head further south, it still had crema. So taste is ultimate.
There are some tricks to get something out of coffee that is going stale. For example, overdosing. But it will all depend on the coffee. Some coffee's will not develop any off flavors for a long time past roast. It will just change flavor, yet continue to be drinkable and enjoyable and perhaps better than many other coffees. It depends on the bean and the roaster. I think darker roasts are more prone to going bad fast while the lighter roast are more likely to develop into different flavor profiles that are adequately enjoyable. But there's probably exceptions that that too.
Posted Wed Aug 6, 2008, 8:10am Subject: Re: How to Tell if Coffee is Stale
You can tell by smelling the aroma even before you grind. Fresh coffee has a sweet, fresh, vibrant heavenly aroma. Stale coffee (in the extreme) has a sickly, rancid 'off' smell. With a question like this, direct experience is better then ten thousand words.
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