Can Coffee be TOO Fresh? The Importance of Degassing Coffee

We’ve talked about the importance of fresh coffee ad nauseum here at Fratello Coffee. It’s coffee 101 to use up your beans within 2-4 weeks of roasting. But did you know that coffee can actually be too fresh? It may sound a little contradictory, but drinking too-fresh coffee can be less than tasty. This is where degassing coffee comes in.

Probat coffee roaster

In the coffee world, degassing is crucial after roasting. Coffee straight off the roaster can taste a bit jarring. Hardcore coffee lovers find extra-fresh coffee exciting, but the average coffee drinker will be a bit offput by the flavour.

Whether you make filter coffee at home or work in the coffee business, degassing coffee is key to making tasty coffee. Let’s take a look at the composition of fresh coffee and explore why it’s so important to give coffee a rest.

Why degassing coffee is necessary

When coffee beans are being roasted, the beans produce and trap carbon dioxide. Most of the CO2 dissipates from the coffee while it’s being roasted, but the coffee will retain a significant amount of it. CO2 is a natural byproduct of roasted coffee, but in large amounts, it can make the coffee taste bad. Extra fresh coffee will have a sour, vegetal, even carbonated taste. This can distract from the desirable flavour notes of the bean. 

After roasting, experts in the coffee industry recommend you rest, or “age”, your coffee for a few days before brewing. Lighter roasted beans are denser, and therefore retain a lot more CO2 than darker roasts. The lighter the roast, the longer it needs to rest.

There will still be CO2 in coffee even after the coffee has rested, but in smaller amounts. Have you ever wondered why pour over recipes tell you to “bloom” your coffee? It's because pouring a bit of hot water on the grinds allows the gasses to dissipate, improving the flavour of the coffee.

Slayer Espresso

Does aged coffee make a better espresso?

While degassing is important no matter what method you’re using, it’s particularly important for espresso. Because espresso introduces pressure, it’s a lot easier for those gasses to end up in the shot, altering the flavour. And, because third-wave espresso bars tend to serve light and medium roast espresso, aging is crucial.

Giving the coffee time to degas will let you taste the true characteristics of the coffee. You won’t have that overpowering CO2 flavour distracting your taste buds.

It’s important to realize that the “crema” layer (the caramel-coloured layer on top of the espresso) is overrated. While it may look delicious and make stunning latte art, it can make a bitter tasting drink. An ultra-thick crema layer indicates right away that your beans are still too fresh. Aging the coffee will make for a thinner crema layer, but the flavour will be much better.

How to degas coffee after roasting

Degassing coffee is simply a question of resting the coffee and leaving it alone for a few days. There’s no special technique–just let it sit undisturbed with minimal exposure to light, heat, and moisture. It should be left in an opaque container with a clearly-marked roast date so you know when to start using it.

espresso shot

How long should I degas the coffee?

How long you age your coffee depends on two things: the brew method you’re using, and the roast level.

When it comes to drip or filter coffee, it’s a good idea to rest your coffee for 2-8 days before using it. Lighter roasts can rest for 4-8 days, and darker roasts can rest for 2-4 days.

When it comes to espresso, you’ll want to wait longer. If you’re using a light roast, you’ll want to rest the coffee for 10 days. If you’re using a medium roast, rest it for 8-10 days. If you’re using a dark roast for your espresso, it should only rest for about 2 days. Dark roast coffees are porous, and you should be more concerned about using them up before they go stale. 

For further information on coffee storage, please refer to our blog post: 5 Ways to Keep your Beans Fresh

How can I degas coffee quickly?

We don’t recommend trying to speed up the degassing process. If you try to prematurely degas the coffee by exposing it to air and light, you’ll only damage it and make it go stale. Have patience!

If you run an espresso bar and you want to serve perfectly aged coffee at all times, do a bit of planning. It’s a good idea to have extra stock of your most popular espresso blend so you don’t have to wait for it to degas. 

espresso shot

What’s the point of the degassing valve?

On most coffee bags, you’ll see a circle with holes. That’s the degassing valve. While most people think that’s some kind of gadget for smelling the coffee, it actually serves a very important, practical purpose. It stops the bag of beans from exploding!

Freshly roasted beans contain enough CO2 to puff, and even explode, the bag. The valve is a one-way channel, letting CO2 exit without allowing outside air to enter the bag.

The purpose of degassing valves became abundantly clear after a 2019 incident with a popular California roaster. The renowned Blue Bottle Coffee had to recall their coffee, which was packed in airtight tins, after 13 people were injured. 

coffee beans

Fresh to death

Degassing your coffee is a great tool to have in your back pocket if you run an espresso bar. It’s a system you can implement early on to take your espresso from good to great. When it comes to making great coffee, there’s no one single recipe for perfection. Making great coffee requires curiosity, and it’s a journey of learning as you go.

If you’re looking to improve your overall espresso game, check out our previous post about pulling a perfect shot of espresso. If you’re in the coffee business and need more support, book a consultation with us by dropping us a line at




How to Read a Coffee Label Like a Pro

Do you ever go to buy a bag of quality coffee, only to stare blankly at the information on the label? Maybe you see “elevation: 1600 masl” or “varietal: SL-28.” What the heck does “honey process” mean? If you don’t know what it all means, it can make your head spin. You’re not alone. The world of coffee is vast and can be complicated. If you want to get the best coffee around, it starts with understanding what you’re buying.

Don’t let complicated labels plunge you into imposter syndrome! Great coffee is for everyone, and it’ll take some time to get acquainted with the specialty coffee label. Maybe you’re searching for particular tasting notes, or just want to learn more about specialty coffee. Or, maybe you just want to impress your friends with your knowledge! Either way, you’ll find that this tidbit of information isn’t so trivial afterall. Learning how to read coffee labels is not only important for understanding the journey the beans have taken before ending up in your cup, but also for being able to make educated purchase decisions.

Why should I read the coffee label?

If you’re becoming a real coffee lover, understanding the coffee label will take your passion to the next level. Plus, it’ll help you spot ethical coffee right away. Ethical coffee is coffee produced with the wellbeing of farmers in mind, and it’s more expensive as a result. Most coffee on the market today is incredibly cheap, and farmers don’t get a fair share.

You won’t find a comprehensive coffee label on bags of poor quality coffee. That’s because poor quality coffee companies don’t want you to see the ugly side of the coffee industry. Read any Fratello coffee label, and you’ll find the country, region or farm, process, roast date, and roast level. If you check out our online coffee collection, you’ll find even more information about the producers. Coffee labels aren’t just for laughs–they’re for traceability and transparency.

Specialty Coffee Label Specifics

Here are the most common pieces of information you’ll see printed on a specialty coffee label.

Coffee origin

It’s not enough to know which country your coffee came from–you should know the origin, and ideally, the farm. You can even get information about the microlot. For example, with our Guatemala Montecristo, “Montecristo” refers to the microlot where the coffee was grown. If you read the label further, you’ll find that it comes from the San Marcos region of Guatemala.

Even if you’re buying a coffee blend, you should know which origins make up the blend. Don’t be fooled by flowery language that describes the coffee with no information about where it comes from.

Coffee elevation

Coffee elevation is everything in specialty coffee. Quality arabica coffee is a delicate plant, and it likes to grow in cool, shady conditions. Growing coffee at higher altitudes achieves this. Lesser quality coffees are grown in full sun and on lower elevations. Although sun-grown, lower elevation coffee makes for a big yield, the quality of the coffee suffers.

When you see “1600 masl” on a coffee label, that means that it’s grown at 1600 metres above sea level. You might also see altitude in feet.

Tasting notes

Good coffee doesn’t need artificial flavourings to taste delicious. You’ll often find tasting notes printed on coffee bags that refer to the subtle characteristics unique to that bean. When it comes to fruit notes, you could see apple, cherry, or blueberry. For sweet notes, you could see toffee, caramel, or molasses. You could even come across notes like nutty, chocolatey, floral, earthy, and even smokey.

As a newbie coffee enthusiast, these flavour notes can be daunting. You may be thinking, “the bag says floral, but all I taste is coffee!” Remember, it takes a long time to develop a flavour palate. If you want to speed up the process, purchase two coffees with wildly different flavour notes, and try them side-by-side. For example, try our Ethiopia Guji (citrus, watermelon, bright) next to our Godfather Espresso TM Blend (milk chocolate, caramel, smooth).

Coffee process

For those who don’t know, coffee is actually the seed of a cherry. The cherries grow on shrub-like trees, and are picked ripe once they turn dark red. Farmers pick thousands and thousands of cherries, and the seeds are extracted. The extraction method is referred to as the coffee process. There are a few different processes, and different processes lead to unique flavours. Here are the most common ones.

 

Varietals

Just like with wine, arabica coffee has its own varietals. With wine, you’ll see different grapes, like merlot, chardonnay, or bordeaux. In coffee, you’ll see varietals like typica, caturra, catuai, SL-28, bourbon, and more. There are over 1000 heirloom varieties, though typica is said to be the oldest known coffee varietal.

Roast level

Roast level refers to roasted coffee, not green coffee. Roasts range from light to dark. Lighter roasts tend to have a bright, acidic, fruity flavour. On the other hand, darker roasts will have more of a bold, toasty, chocolatey flavour.

 

 

 

Roast date

Make sure to buy beans that have been roasted within the past two weeks. Roast date is extremely important if you want to drink fresh coffee. Many coffees sold at the supermarket will have coffee that’s been roasted months ago and vacuum-packed. Specialty coffee roasters will never offer stale, months-old coffee. Just say no to stale coffee!

The cream of the crop

Coffee is one of the top most traded commodity in the world, along with sugar, corn and oil. As a result, there’s a lot of bad coffee out there. You can dodge a bullet by only purchasing coffee with information about process, elevation, and more. Life is too short to drink poor quality coffee. So do yourself a favour, and learn to read coffee labels like a pro!

Want to learn more about specialty coffee? Check out our blog post about new crop coffee.



Starting a Gratitude Journal : The Science of Gratitude

Thanksgiving is a great reminder to be thankful for what we have, but science tells us that gratitude is important year-round. The act of practising gratitude is great for our overall health.  Intentionally going out of our way to bring to mind the things we’re grateful for helps us stay healthy and happy. 

Happy couple

Studies show that keeping a gratitude journal can ease depression and anxiety and actually improve your physical health. Neuroscience shows that the brain is a lot more changeable than previously thought, and carrying out practises actually creates new pathways, or “rewires” our brains. (You CAN teach an old dog new tricks!)

In today’s day and age, there are constant stressors all around us. Raising kids, full-time work, and excessive screen time can all bring our moods down and make us constantly feel stressed out. Not only does stress affect our quality of life, but studies show it actually makes us sick. Higher levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that upticks when we’re feeling stressed, has been linked to cancer and heart disease. Starting a gratitude journal eases a lot of this stress. 

Let’s take a look at how practising gratitude affects the brain. 

Gratitude Journal

Your brain on gratitude

The modern human is not subject to the same stressors as in the past. We no longer have to defend against bears and tigers or hunt and gather to provide food for our families. The modern human still has the fight-or-flight response, but it’s triggered by other things. Things like work stress, gridlock, and overdue bills can all get our heart racing and our cortisol flowing. 

While danger looks a little different now, humans are hard-wired to look for danger at every turn.

While this may have helped us escape real danger when we were hunter-gatherers, it doesn’t serve us anymore. Just because negative, catastrophizing thought patterns are our default, doesn’t mean it has to stay that way.

Humans can inject positive thinking into their brains, achieving a state of calm and well-being. The more we introduce positive thoughts into our brains, the more we flex this positivity muscle.

Similar to mindfulness, where we practise focusing on the present to achieve calm, practising gratitude creates equally strong pathways. Check out our post about parental burnout to learn more ways to deal with anxiety and stress. 

Practising gratitude has some real benefits and changes our brains in many ways. Gratitude can decrease materialism, help us work through personal problems, fight disease and sickness, and decrease feelings of envy and resentment.

journaling

How to practise gratitude

There are various ways that you can practise gratitude, and they all involve a pen and paper. 

A common gratitude journal exercise is to name 3 things you’re grateful for. Then, elaborate on those 3 things and muse about what life would be like without them. It can be anything from a supportive spouse, to a roof over your head, to your brand new dishwasher. 

You can also pick one thing that you’re grateful for, and take time to explore why you’re grateful for it. Let’s take running water, for example. Running water keeps you hydrated, saves you the effort and time of having to fetch it from the lake, allows you to bathe and brush your teeth, and waters your flowers. 

While it may sound like child’s play, you’ll notice a shift in your thinking after a few weeks of doing this consistently.

I don’t have time to write a gratitude journal!

It can be hard to justify the practise when you’re skeptical of it in the first place. You’ll reap the most benefits if you spend about 30 minutes everyday. However, even doing it 5 minutes a day can have a profound effect. When you’re first starting out, start small so you can realistically commit to the practise everyday. Deciding when and where you’re going to complete your gratitude journal can help you stay committed, too. 

If you’re a busy parent and your life gets busy in the evening, commit to waking up 5 minutes earlier than usual to complete your journal. 

If you plan to do your journal on the train or at your office desk, write in a pocket-sized notebook that’s easy to toss in your bag. If you prefer to journal digitally, you can keep a note in your phone, or you can even use a gratitude journal app

How long do I have to carry on with this practise?

When it comes to mindset work, such as practising gratitude or mindfulness, you should never stop! Think of a gratitude journal like working out or practising an instrument. When you stop working out for a while, you quickly run out of breath when you try to get back into it. Then, you have to play catch-up to get fit again. It’s the exact same thing with practising gratitude, and you should aim to stay “fit” your whole life. 

It might sound like a drag to have to do this constantly to reap the benefits. But choosing a set time, day of the week, and place to do it will significantly increase your chances of sticking to your routine. It’s actually more beneficial to practise it in short bursts over a period of time than it is to binge-practise it for hours all at once. Consistency is key. 

You don’t have to do it every single day if you don’t want to. But if you’re giving yourself a rest, make sure you do it consistently. For example, choose Sunday as your rest day instead of randomly taking off-days as you need them. 

be thankful

The greatest gift of all

Sometimes life will present unfair, cruel circumstances. On the other hand, you can have everything you could ever want in the world, and still be unhappy and unfulfilled. Living joyfully doesn’t happen by accident or to those who can afford it; it happens to those who are intentional. You have to have the imagination and the diligence to live the life you want. 

Let this Thanksgiving be the year you start your gratitude journal, and never look back!

Looking for more health & wellness content? Check out our previous post about drinking turmeric for health benefits




Does Caffeine Make Office Workers More Efficient?

What’s the thing that can make people wake up at 6 a.m. and waste an hour commuting to work everyday? Well, admittedly, not a lot of things have this effect, but great coffee for offices is potentially just the thing. In a post-lockdown world where employees are dreading returning to their cubicles, great coffee for offices could make the difference.

Computer desk with coffee

It’s harder than ever for employers to convince their workers to come back to the office. Most employers have only succeeded in bringing back their staff a few days a week at most. After two years of lockdown, office employees have enjoyed better sleep, no commuting, unsupervised breaks, and the list goes on. And, they’ve proved that they can be just as productive (if not more productive) working remotely.

However, for those employers who truly do need their employees to return, you’re going to need a bold tactic to bring them back. Read on to find out how great coffee for offices can be a juicy offer. 

Why should I provide good coffee for offices?

Providing great coffee for your office can communicate a lot of things to your employees.

Do you ever shake your head at that employee who shows up late every morning with a take-out coffee in their hand? Try to understand it from their perspective. Getting to work everyday is a grind, not just on account of the long, unpleasant commute, but the work environment. It can be even more difficult for employees who have bosses supervising them all day. Combine a lack of sleep, an early morning, a rough commute, and a job where you can’t relax, and you’d need a coffee, too!

In general, office workers reported feeling drained, anxious and taken-advantage-of pre-pandemic. Introducing a great office coffee program can be one step to making your employees feel valued. It can also make the workspace feel less intimidating, somewhere they can feel comfortable.

Coffee is inherently social, and it can be a way to get your employees to get to know each other. Encouraging socializing can improve staff morale, especially if morale is low. 

Coffee break

Frequent breaks improve productivity

Among employers, there seems to be an importance placed on productivity in the workplace. Many employers don’t seem to understand why surveilling their employees while at work doesn’t make them work harder or better. 

While it may sound counterintuitive, frequent breaks actually make people more productive. People get more work done throughout the day when they take several mini-breaks. Coffee is synonymous with a mid-day break.

In Sweden, there’s a ritual called fika which entails coffee and sweets. In many Scandinavian countries, work culture revolves around a shorter work day, more breaks, and sometimes, a 4-day work week. Studies show Scandinavian workers are just as productive as non-Scandinavian workers. 

Taking breaks during a long day can help workers with their mindset. It’s easier to tackle large projects by breaking them into bite-sized pieces, punctuated by breaks. When work is presented this way, the worker views the project as achievable.

Additionally, offering great coffee in the office can make your employees less likely to wander out for coffee, which can be a time drain.

Open office space

Does caffeine make office workers more efficient?

The main productivity benefits of coffee are down to the breaks that come with it. However, your brain on caffeine is more alert than without caffeine. Office workers generally show up to work tired from lack of sleep due to stress and commute. Caffeine helps to keep workers from nodding off, which is more likely to happen when sitting at a desk. 

Too much caffeine, however, can cause that signature crash. To truly reap the benefits of caffeine, limit your intake to 2 cups a day.

Health benefits of coffee

High quality coffee also comes with some health benefits. Freshly roasted coffee (ie. roasted within the last 2 weeks) contain antioxidants. Antioxidants have powerful anti-aging and disease prevention properties. They reduce oxidative stress caused by free radicals in the body. Upping your intake of antioxidant-rich foods is recommended if you live in a big city with air pollution.

In general, great coffee is delicious without the need for excess sugar and milk, making it a healthy, if not harmless, drink. 

Which coffee should I choose?

When choosing coffee, look for crowd-pleasing tasting notes. The majority of coffee drinkers prefer chocolatey, smooth, nutty flavours over bright, fruity flavours. We recommend the Godfather Espresso Blend ™, with milk chocolate and caramel notes. It works well as an espresso and as a drip coffee. 

What’s the best way to offer office coffee?

Depending on your budget, there are a lot of ways to offer up great coffee for offices. If you have a moderate budget, you can invest in a high-quality drip coffee maker. Cheaper drip coffee machines don’t make great coffee, so definitely invest in something good. Drip machines like the Technivorm Moccamaster make delicious coffee. You’ll also want to invest in a proper burr grinder. We recommend the Baratza Encore Grinder.Working with coffee

If you have the budget and have a huge team, you can actually hire an in-house barista for your office. You’ll have to invest in a high-quality espresso machine and grinder, too. 

Setting up great office coffee programs is old hat to us. We work in collaboration with many office coffee service supply companies for offices of all sizes. These companies provide everything from kitchen installation to brewing and cleaning equipment. For help setting up an in-office cafe, get in touch with our consultation team.

Stop and smell the coffee

If you want to improve morale and productivity, offering great coffee for offices is a great move. It shows that you value your workers’ sanity and wellbeing. By offering good coffee, you are being realistic and encouraging your workers to take breaks throughout the day. Sometimes, it just takes a little empathy to understand your employees’ behaviour.

Looking to improve your office coffee program to entice workers to return to the office? Get in touch with our wholesale team, and drop us a line at .



Analog Coffee - Now Hiring - Quality Assurance Manager

This is a rare opportunity to join a dynamic team of coffee professionals and further your career in coffee and business.  Please forward your resumes to info @ fratellocoffee.com.

analog-coffee

Summary
 

The Quality Assurance Manager is responsible for the consistent excellence of every cup of coffee served at Analog Café’s. Our Quality Assurance Manager is the quintessential coffee connoisseur who is as passionate about coffee as they are the overall coffee experience. They are the key resource for coffee quality at Analog.

Areas of Responsibility
·       Quality Assurance

o   Key resource to Café Managers and team members, working alongside them to educate and encourage the highest quality of Analog products.

o   Ensure Analog products meet expected quality standards and consistency by conducting quality reviews and testing at each Analog café. Provide Café team members feedback and encouragement to continuously improve their skills.

o   Develop and document Analog product quality standards and procedures.

o   Collaborate with the Quality Assurance Manager at Fratello to assist in the constant improvement of all roast profiles.

o   Act as Analog “Ambassador” at regional coffee events such as Barista Competition, Coffee Association of Canada and Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) conventions, as necessary.

o   Create and maintain Café equipment Preventative Maintenance standards and procedures.

o   Maintain equipment and ensure equipment supplies are available at all Café’s as required for preventative maintenance needs. Schedule preventative maintenance and report status and discrepancies to Café Managers.

·       Coffee Knowledge Training

o   Design and develop training materials, workshops and communications that support and improve overall coffee knowledge of Café team members.

o   Coordinate with Café Managers to facilitate regular training sessions and follow up with them to ensure all training materials are up to date.

o   Coordinate Train-the-Trainer sessions and regular meetings with Café trainers to ensure the consistent execution of Analog product quality standards and procedures.

o   Proactively recommend and implement improvements to product quality standards and procedures. Maintain and update training materials to reflect continuous improvements.

o   Design, write and distribute regular communications, i.e. newsletters, to Café team members, highlighting best practices and changes, recipes, new coffees and other information as required.

o   Present quality assurance updates and information at regular Café Manager meetings. Maintain a close working relationship with the management team.

o   Coordinate with Café Mangers and District Managers to ensure weekly and monthly scheduling of training and quality meetings meet the needs of the Café’s.

Experience and Qualifications
You’re a great fit if you have:

·       3+ years of experience in retail or hospitality or equivalent experience.

·       1+ year of specialized quality assurance responsibilities.

·       Experienced trainer, assisting individuals and/or teams to learn new skills or processes.

·       Passion for exceptional quality of products and/or services.

·       Strong verbal and written communication skills.

·       Excellent collaborator and team player.

·       Demonstrates effective time management.

·       Available to work a flexible schedule to meet the needs of the business; may require weekends and evenings

·       Proficiency in using Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook and POS systems.

·       Minimum High School education.