Coffee’s conventional wisdom is exceptionally full of “everything you know is wrong” ideas and bits of information. While many of these are counterintuitive and fascinating, many other “facts” are just canards – unfounded or false information passed along from hearsay, innuendo or downright wishful thinking.
We love ‘em all, goofy, mysterious, outrageous and weak; and so here’s the first of a recurring feature where we uncover some of the Coffee world’s most garish chunks of Fool’s Gold….
#1 “KEEP YOUR COFFEE FRESH BY PUTTING IT IN THE FRIDGE”
Ah, the fridge myth, the wooly mammoth of coffee urban legends. As conventional reasoning goes, the fridge keeps veggies and meat fresh, so it must work for coffee too… Well – not so fast,my friend…
According to Dr. Science, refrigerators remove heat by constantly circulating cold, dry air around food. Circulation is critical; the more movement of cold air the faster warm food gets cold, and today’s high efficiency fridge has terrific air circulation.
BUT – the huge volume of dry swirling air ruthlessly extracts food moisture, aromas and flavors, circulating them through every cubic inch of the interior and its contents. This is a very bad deal for fresh coffee: great coffee starts with tons of volatile aroma and flavor, but you’ll never taste it if it goes hurtling around the cold box.
By the way, percolators suffer for the same reason but opposite cause – heat. They extract flavor from coffee by boiling it, forcing aroma and flavor out of the brew and into the open air; this is why percolator coffee is known as ‘a beautiful smell that tastes like hell.’
Coffee beans in the fridge also suck up and retain every smell that blows by – Dr. Science’s term for this is hygroscopic. Brewed coffee discloses the full itinerary of food or any other item it was shipped with, and many roasters find, to their sorrow, that their beans made the trip to market sitting next to oregano, freshly painted furniture, animal hides or fertilizer – mmmm, tasty. Hygroscopic is strike two and three for the refrigerator, chock full of smells (berries, cheese, melon, etc) wafting ceaselessly on the cold air….Hey, can I get you a big cup of garlic-cheddar-cherry French Roast?
So how do you guard the flavor of your beans? Buy coffee every 7 – 10 days and store it in an airtight container away from light, extreme temperature and humidity….No fridge, no freezer, no funny business – Do that and you’re golden!