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Handling and storage of coffee after delivery.

Handling and storage of coffee after delivery

Success in providing the best coffee to customers depends on a retailer's ability to select top quality coffee, and to take careful measures in storing the coffee to insure freshness. Buying coffee from a company which starts with the best available coffee beans and roasts them to perfection is the first step. The next step is training for the retailer and staff to insure the coffee is properly handled after delivery.

Purchasing Decisions

Specialty coffee is available in both whole bean and ground forms. Coffee in whole bean form retains its flavor longer because it has less surface area, limiting oxidation. However, some customers prefer ground coffee, and its freshness can be maintained through packaging.

Whole bean coffee should be bought in non-atmospheric packages which are either vacuum packed or nitrogen flushed. Both packaging methods evacuate oxygen from the package, achieving the same air-free result. Coffee gives off carbon dioxide for three days after roasting, mandating the use of a valve, which allows the release of gas pressure, for immediate packaging. The valve is a sort of one-way gate which allows pressure to escape without oxygen entering the package. Packaging coffee immediately after roasting in this type of non-atmospheric container halts the coffee aging process until the package is opened and oxygen is present.

Ordering "small" is another way for retailers to offer the freshest coffee. Coffee should be bought in amounts which can be sold and replaced with another delivery weekly. This insures coffee freshness and keeps customers satisfied and coming back for more. When paying $7 to $15 per pound, the customer deserves to receive the freshest possible coffee.

Preferred Storage Methods

When stored, coffee should be kept in sealed, air-tight containers to prevent coffee from absorbing odors. Freezing is the best means of preserving coffee freshness. Refrigeration is next best, since heat speeds the oxidation and aging process. Customers should also be encouraged to freeze or refrigerate their coffee at home and grind it fresh just before brewing.

Once on display, direct sunlight is coffee's greatest enemy, warming the coffee and speeding the oxidation process. Flourescent light presents no problem because it does not put off heat. Incandescent light is only a problem when the light is very bright and puts off harmful heat.

Bulk coffee should be sold in a dispenser that fills from the top and empties from the bottom so that the first beans in are the first beans out. Flow through glass and brass are suitable, just so they are airtight. A barrel, though attractive, does not make it easy for all the coffee to be sold and replaced unless it is emptied when refilled, with fresh beans placed on the bottom. Most of the time this does not happen and beans on the bottom become quite stale. Coffee can really be sold from any type of container, as long as the fresh coffee beans are always placed on the bottom.

Slower selling exotic coffees should be sold in 8 oz. or 14 oz. valve bags that go directly to the consumer with the valve seal never opened by the retailer. Now coffee is also offered in 2 oz. individual packages that brew single pots of coffee. These are great for the consumer to make the best fresh coffee, although they are a little more expensive. They also give the consumer the opportunity to try various coffees in a short time. Retailers should encourage customers to try new coffees in small quantities such as the 2 oz. package. Although they are expensive by the pound, they are a great value.

Offering both bulk and consumer size coffee selections can increase the business as some customers prefer one over the other. It is suggested that slower moving coffee can be kept in inventory, just offer these varieties in small consumer sizes. Retailers should periodically analyze sales and delete non-selling coffees, trying new coffee flavors that may sell better.

Coffee is never better than during the first week after roasting. During this week the coffee continues to emit carbon dioxide so it is not oxidizing. The vacuum-valve packaging preserves this fresh roasted flavor until the package is opened.

Coffee no older than 30 days is preferred. However, coffee can be palatable for much longer. Keep in mind that coffee is only as good as the original quality of the freshly grown coffee and the process by which it is roasted. High quality coffee 60 days old is still better than poor coffee during its first week.

J. Gill Brockenbrough President First Colony Coffee & Tea Co. and James G. Gill Co.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Lockwood Trade Journal Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Author:Brockenbrough, J. Gill
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Date:Jan 1, 1991
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