Category Archives: Tips – Tech

How Long Do Coffee Beans Last?

When you purchase fresh coffee beans, you’ll probably notice a roast date labeled on the bag and you might wonder: “How long do coffee beans last?” “Do coffee beans expire?” At Seattle Coffee Gear, we receive these questions a lot and it’s a tough one to answer. We adhere to roaster guidelines for freshness and that right there is the keyword: freshness. Not expiration in the way most people understand it like a sour glass of milk. We could quickly agree that those foul smelling notes mean the milk has expired, but open coffee roasted six months ago and there probably won’t be that telltale reek. However, your nose may detect something is different. Coffee is volatile and the coffee industry only agrees on one fact: coffee changes.

To answer the question, “How long do coffee beans last?” Let’s be frank: Until it stops tasting good. Let’s break down what “good” coffee is.

Coffee Freshness

In the coffee community, freshness is generally agreed upon by the roast date. The closer it is to the roast date, the fresher the beans. The moment coffee is roasted it begins to stale thanks to oxidation, not time. Of course, the more time oxygen has to work on the beans, the more it’ll stale. However, roasters haven’t agreed upon what “stale” means for coffee. As James Hoffman puts it in The World Atlas of Coffee; “The specialty coffee industry has failed to make a real impact because there is no strong agreement on how quickly coffee goes stale, and at what point it will have passed its best-before date.” Our practice at Seattle Coffee Gear is to follow the individual roaster’s guidelines, which are between two and four weeks then we’ll pull the coffee off the shelf.

How long the coffee freshness lasts after roasting also depends on roaster’s processes like the packaging. There are different types of bags like the triple-ply foil that prevent fresh air from getting in while a valve allows carbon dioxide out. It’s a common packaging we see with our roasters and at your local grocery store. There are also packaging techniques that factor in coffee freshness such as nitrogen flushing. This process, used by Lavazza, helps preserve coffee beans by flushing away the oxygen and so temporarily eliminates it going stale. We say temporarily because as soon as you open the bag, oxygen finds its way in and begins to stale your coffee.

How To Tell If Coffee Is Bad

We know you were thinking about it. You’re probably sniffing your bag of beans trying to decide if it was bad or stale. Your nose is your best detector. “The human tongue can only really taste five flavors—sour, sweet, salty, bitter and umami,” our Portland store manager, Joe, says. “The nose, however, is a magical input drive that can delineate between thousands and thousands of distinct compounds and the brain processes this information in the same place/way. Smell and taste are intimately linked.” So when your nose can’t smell the coffee, you can assume the flavor is gone.

Of course, what’s most important for coffee drinkers is flavor, and the freshest beans don’t guarantee the best flavor. In fact, we’ve brewed beans a month past their roast date and loved them. We’ve had those same beans right after roasting and preferred the aged beans. That’s why we think how long coffee beans last can be gauged by flavor. Each coffee’s flavor profile is different, but once the volatile aromatics break down, so does the flavor. Think of it in terms of cooking. The oils carry the flavor and so when the oils in coffee are gone, so is the flavor. “As they are volatile, these compounds slowly leach from the coffee so the older it is the less interesting it will taste,” writes Hoffman.

Storing Coffee

The best way to store and keep your coffee as fresh as possible—because inevitably, you will open your freshly roasted beans and start the cycle of oxidation—is to keep it in a cool, dry place. Oxygen and moisture are the enemies of coffee. Once water comes in contact with beans, it starts the brewing process and extracts the flavor. That’s why products like the AirScape Coffee Bean Canister are excellent to keep around since it uses a one-way valve to push out oxygen and air-tight lid to keep out the elements—hello, fresh coffee.

Freezing coffee, then, seems like a bad idea but it’s a trend we’ve seen in the coffee community. It’s not all misplaced either. Done properly, freezing coffee has its benefits. One benefit is using it for espresso to extract a richer, thicker body. If you freeze ground coffee, it’ll dissolve faster in hot water and produce a fuller flavor. However, once you take the coffee out of the freezer, you can’t let it thaw. Any moisture that condenses on the beans will start the extraction process on your coffee. A way around this is to measure the dosage for how much coffee you’ll need.

How Long Do Coffee Beans Last?

In the coffee community, the word expired describes coffee differently than other foods like milk. There’s no defined expiration or best-by date for coffee. We can only guarantee that coffee is volatile substance and therefore will rapidly change. How long coffee beans last also depends on the type—sorry didn’t mean to throw you a curveball. Ground coffee, for example, has more surface area for oxygen to leach out the flavor compounds. If you wanted to keep your coffee fresher longer, we’d recommend leaving the beans whole and grinding them only when you’re ready.

Lastly, the best way to determine if your coffee is fresh, like we’ve discussed, is to follow your senses. If you no longer taste the notes you love, it’s safe to say your coffee expired and it’s time for a new bag. What’s really important is if you still enjoy your coffee regardless of the best-by date. Of course, at Seattle Coffee Gear, we make sure to adhere to roaster’s guidelines and pull coffee that’s past the freshness date provided. While we enjoy sipping our coffee sooner rather than later, we follow our senses and let the coffee speak for itself.

How To Guide: Ask a Question

Ask a Question

You’ve probably spent hours reading through product reviews and prolonged stories just to discover the question you’re looking for wasn’t there. Enter: Ask a Question—our way of saying, “Hey, we know you’ve got burning questions best answered before you’ve made a purchase.” Ask a Question is an interactive community of machine owners and product experts answering questions using their real experience. If it goes unanswered, our Crew steps in with the best response—we’re coffee machine owners, too!

Where To Find It

Under every product, we’ve included the “Ask a Question” tab. Click on the tab and you’ll see all the questions and answers. To ask and answer questions, you can be anonymous or log in to your account.

How This Works

  1. Type in your question. If there are matching questions in our Q&A database, we’ll show them immediately.
  2. If there aren’t any, submit a new question. You’ll get fast answers from customers who really own the item(s) and from our product experts. (About half the time you’ll get an answer in under two hours, depending on your question and the item you are asking about…)

Done! Now you can save time searching through the internet. If you need a place to start thinking of questions you’d want to ask, we’ve got you covered.

Good Topics To Ask About

  • Which items will best meet your needs
  • What customers who own an item think of it
  • How to use, fix or take care of an item
  • Product information
  • General advice related to the types of products we sell
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Here’s a customer’s answer to a question on the Saeco Xelsis Evo.


Share Your Experience

As a proud new owner of a coffee maker, you’re in the know. Make suggestions for newbies or share your early morning coffee routine. It’s your time to shine and show you’ve got this—remember the pure satisfaction of knowing the answer in class and impressing all the kids and teacher. Yeah, it’s something like that.

Now, you owners might be wondering how you’ll know there’s a new question to be answered. We’ll shoot you an email and let you know when there’s a new one. Or you can take a look under the Ask a Question tab and see if there’s anything you can answer. If you don’t know and you’re thinking you got to know too, just click on the “I Have This Question Too,” to let owners know. Our Crew can take on unanswered questions or provide other suggestions we know.

That’s all there is to it! Check out how many questions and answers you or others have entered by clicking on their name. You might be surprised at how much you know—any excuse to call Mom and brag, right?

 

Tune Up For What: DeLonghi Magnifica ESAM3300 Espresso Machine Water Light Issue

We’ve heard from new owners of the DeLonghi Magnifica ESAM3300 Espresso Machine that there is an issue with the machine registering the water in the tank. We’ve tested it out and figured out the problem for you!

Turns out, most of the time it’s a little problem with the wiring in the back (don’t worry, it’s an easy fix). Grab a screwdriver and flat head and watch this quick and easy guide on how to fix the DeLonghi Magnifica!

For more videos on tuning your machines, subscribe to our YouTube channel!

If you’re experiencing problems with your machine, feel free to contact our support team:

  • Hours: Monday – Friday, 7am – 6pm | Saturday – Sunday, 9am – 6pm (pacific)
  • Phone: toll free – 866-372-4734 | 206-774-3164
  • Email: support@seattlecoffeegear.com

Ask Gail: Understanding The Technivorm Models

The Technivorm coffee brewer. It’s one of the best home coffee brewing machines out there. But finding the right one for you can be a little difficult. With so many models which one do you choose?technivorm

The Technivorm coffee lineup can be demystified with a little knowledge (and a helpful chart!) The first thing you want to do is decide which style of carafe you want. The Technivorm models come in either a glass carafe or a thermal carafe. Are you someone who finishes a pot of coffee before it is even done brewing? If so, you may want to go for the glass carafe (we use a glass carafe in our breakroom!) Or maybe you are one who likes to leisurely sip your cup o’ joe, in which case the thermal carafe will keep that pot of coffee hot till the last sip.

The next decision that must be made is if you want an auto stop machine or a manual stop machine. The auto stop is great if you always brew full pots. The manual stop machine give you the ability to brew a half pot, but you will need to remember to flip the switch open or closed, otherwise the brew basket can overflow causing a mess. Trust us, we’ve made that mess several times before.

Once you have those decisions made, the right Technivorm  for you will be clear. Check out the full Ask Gail video below to see the helpful chart!

 

 

Morning Maintenance: Saeco Brew Unit Care

Saeco Brew UnitThe superautomatic. Espresso at the touch of a button. But what is doing all the work? How does this machine keep spitting out delicious espresso?!  The brew unit of course! Each brand has it’s own design, but they all do the same thing (make you coffee!).

The Saeco Brew Unit is easy to care for if you know what to do. So in this Morning Maintenance video, we asked Gail to show us how to properly clean the Saeco Brew Unit off of a Exprelia Evo. But these tips are good for any Saeco Superautomatic espresso machine!

As with any espresso machine, the best form of maintenance is preventative. By cleaning and tuning up your machine as needed you will find your machine will work better, longer! Which of course means more coffee and who can say no to that?!

Watch the Morning Maintenance video below to see the best tips and tricks in caring for your Saeco Brew Unit. Have any questions? Leave them in the comment section on YouTube!

 

 

Morning Maintenance: CC1 General Maintenance Tips

An espresso machine is a lot like a car. If you keep up on your oil changes and tire rotations, it is going to last a whole lot longer. But don’t worry, you won’t need to bring your espresso machine into a mechanic for the tune up! You can do so in the comfort of your own home.General Maintenance Tips CC1

Below are our general maintenance tips for the Crossland CC1, but a lot of this information can be used on any single boiler machine. Of course it is best to consult your specific machines instruction manual   but feel free to follow along!

The best thing you can do for your machine is to use filtered water. By using filtered water you cut back on the amount of descaling you will need to do, which is good for everyone involved. (It can take a while to go through the whole descaling process!)

Backflushing is another important step to a healthy machine. Coffee has oils, and those oils like to go everywhere! Over time, those oils will build up and can change the flavor of your shots or even create a clog. Watch the video below to see Gail demonstrate how to properly backflush the Crossland CC1.

After each brew session, it is best to wipe down the machine immediately. Especially the steam wand if you steamed some milk. Any milk residue that is left on the wand after steaming will burn, and be very difficult to remove later. In addition to the unsightly burnt milk, the wand can also siphon milk back up and into the boiler as it cools. And milk in the boiler is never a good thing (and can cost a lot to repair)!

Those are our general maintenance tips for the Crossland CC1, be sure to watch the full episode of Morning Maintenance below. If you found this video helpful, subscribe to our YouTube channel for videos just like this!

 

Morning Maintenance: Setting Up The CC1

Congratulations! It looks like you just got yourself a Crossland CC1. We are excited for you (and maybe even a little jealous!)Crossland CC1

The Crossland CC1 is an excellent choice for the home barista. It features a PID system that is built right into the interface. This is a feature you won’t find on any other machine with this price point. One of the biggest complaints espresso enthusiasts have about other machines at this level is the temperature variance. But you won’t need to worry, since you have this PID to keep your temperature under control!

Once you get your CC1 out of the box, all you need to do is program your PID and then brew away! In the Morning Maintenance video below, Gail will go over how to program your PID’s brew temp, pre-infusion time, wait time and brew time. It is an easy process to master, and can result in some delicious espresso!

Watch the full video below!

 

 

Morning Maintenance: Rancilio Silvia General Maintenance

So you have been brewing up some delicious espresso shots with your Rancilio Silvia for a few months now. Your liking the taste and want this investment to last!Silvia General Maintenance

That’s good news! (You came to the right spot). We are here to share with you some tips for Rancilio Silvia General Maintenance. It’s easy to do if you keep up on it!

When it comes to Rancilio SIlvia General Maintenance, you want to hit the big three. What are the big three? We will share.

First, make sure you blow steam out and wipe down your steam wand after frothing milk. This is something you absolutely must do every time, and immediately. Check out this video to see what can happen if you don’t!

Next, you want to backflush your machine. When you backflush, you are forcing a cleaning solution up into the brew screen and back down the solenoid valve.  Coffee is oily stuff! Using a product like Cafiza will help break down those oils, which can cause clogs if left uncleaned.

Finally, give your machine a wipe down. When espresso shots are being pulled, or milk is being frothed, things can get a bit messy! Keeping the exterior clean is just the right thing to do 😉

Watch the video below to see step by step instructions for all these easy general maintenance tips! And be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss and episode!

Morning Maintenance: Rocket Machine Care

Rocket EspressoToday on Morning Maintenance, Gail takes a look at the Rocket Espresso lineup. Each of the machines by Rocket Espresso should be cared for in the same manner. So whether you have an R58 or a Premium Plus model, it is best to follow the following general maintenance tips!

As you can see, a lot of the maintenance is easy to do. All it takes is a little up keep day by day in order to avoid many issues. And remember, its never too late to start good machine care!

Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel yet? You can do so by clicking here. By subscribing you will continue to get all of these informative videos!

Ask Andrew From Rocket: PID Design

PID DesignBack with another episode of Ask Andrew! This time we decided to ask Andrew his thoughts on the design and use of a PID on an espresso machine.

We all know that Rocket Espresso takes a lot of care when it comes to the design of their machines, both in their aesthetics and  functionality! So we were sure he would have some thoughts around the PID design.

What’s a PID controller you ask? A PID, which stands for proportional-integral-derivative, is a device that is constantly reading  the temperature of the boiler (or wherever a thermometer is placed). It continues to calculate and adjust the boilers heating element so that when you brew you can set and be confident that you are brewing at a specific temperature.

Watch the video below to learn more about the PID design and it’s part in the design of a Rocket Espresso machine!