When SHTF, I know one thing that I absolutely cannot do without is my cup of Joe. It’s not just me either. The entire world runs on coffee. Think about what it would look like if coffee were to run out in the next year. We’d all be walking zombies and crazier than ever trying to find our fix. Don’t believe me. Just go a morning without it and tell me how you feel. Not very pretty, I know.
Since all of our veins run thick with java joe, we need to find the best possible way to store this liquid black gold for emergencies.
Now I know this topic has been discussed quite often, but I’d like to really cover it in depth. I’d also like to share some of the reasons I prefer to store in cans over other methods. Believe it or not, there are quite a few benefits to this. I’ll tell you exactly why below.
First, let’s talk about what makes coffee go bad.
If you can control these 4 elements, you are guaranteeing a much, much longer shelf life out of your beans. We’re talking 10, 20, or 30 years instead of 2 or 3.
When you roast coffee, the beans split open and are immediately exposed to all the elements that begin the decaying process- moisture, light, and oxygen. This gives them a pretty short life span of a couple weeks. When coffee is green or raw, the beans or seeds have yet to actually open thereby giving them much more resistance to these elements. This the reason that green, unroasted, raw coffee beans are absolutely the best type of coffee to store if you’re looking for long shelf life(in my opinion).
I know you’re probably grumbling right now saying, “but I don’t want to have to roast the beans later”, or “I have no idea how to roast beans”. Hang on though because we’ll get to that later, and believe me, roasting is actually very simple. So recap, why store Green Beans over Roasted? In short, longer life which is what you want for emergencies.
Storing Your Coffee Beans
Ok, so we’ve talked about what makes coffee go bad so before we actually put the beans in cans or containers and store them away for 10-20 years, we have to make sure they are packaged and protected completely. Let’s start with each element.
Coffee Bean Selection
Ok first off, none of what I’m about to tell you will matter if you are trying to store crappy coffee beans that cost a couple dollars per pound and comes from who knows where. It all starts with quality coffee beans. Choose your selection wisely and don’t be too frugal when it comes to this part. Buy the better beans . You store crappy coffee rocks, and you’ll open up a nice fresh supply of crappy coffee rocks. This is pretty self-explanatory I think.
According to the Specialty Coffee Association of America, the standard for all Arabica coffee beans (the majority of all coffee) should have a moisture content level between the range of 10-12%. You can find the standards here. Also, take a look at this study from the University of Hawaii that confirms the optimum moisture content levels to be between 9-12% and why.
This is very important because with too much moisture, the beans are susceptible to mold and fungus(see below) -even more so for prolonged periods of time. Too little moisture and the beans begin to dry out and crack leaving them more susceptible to oxygen decay. We wouldn’t want our beans ending up like the photos below when we try to open them 10 years down the road. This is why it is very important to do it right from the beginning before we just throw the beans into sealed containers and hope for the best. So try to verify the moisture content levels of your beans if you can before you store them. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to throw in a couple food-grade desiccant moisture absorbers just to help with any humidity levels that are present at the time of packaging.
Oxygen Protection – Let’s talk about protecting from oxygen. Now, oxygen is not quite as big of a problem when the beans are green as opposed to roasted beans because as I said before, the beans are still hard as a rock seeds. This allows them to keep really well and resist the effects of oxygen better, but not entirely. It’s still a great idea to add in oxygen absorbers, or vacuum seal your containers when adding your beans. The less you have in there, the better overall, and we are aiming for as long as possible so it wouldn’t hurt. Oh, and one thing to note is that you want to make sure they are food grade.
UV Light Protection – We all know that UV causes things to break down. It’s natural and it’s just the way it is, but it’s also fairly simple to protect from. Just make sure you use bags that keep out the light. No clear, see-through bags here. See why clear plastic vacuum-sealed or ziplocs aren’t the best for this. I guess they could be if you store them in a dungeon free and clear, but we don’t want to have to limit the location of our food storage just because we used clear bags to seal our beans.
Heat Protection – This is also very easy to manage when you are storing the beans because they most likely won’t be reaching temps in excess of 100F(hopefully). If so, try to keep them somewhere cool or room temperature whichever.
Large Quantities vs. Small
Now that we’ve got the beans prepped and ready to go, what sizes do we choose for storage? Most preppers buy in bulk so it only makes sense to store in bulk also. Bulk meaning 10-25-50lb quantities at a time. My experience is that while you can store a lot more easier, most forget about actually using their stored coffee beans when the time comes. It will be pretty hard for someone to use all 50lbs of coffee at a time when you open them and oxygen, moisture, light, heat can get to them again. They’ll probably start getting stale by the time you’re finished with your supply.
My advice is to ration your bean storage to what you will need in the future at your current rate of consumption. Calculate the amount of coffee you’ll need per person. 16oz or 1lb of dry coffee will give you roughly 30 cups of liquid coffee.(standard coffee cup is 6oz). So for an average person drinking 1 cup of coffee every day, you are going to need (7days*1cup=7cups/week *4 weeks= 28cups/month). Given that 1lb equals roughly 30 cups of coffee, you’ll need roughly 1lb dry coffee/month/person. Now, hang on before all of you jump on me for the numbers. This is a general idea, and obviously it all depends on how you like your coffee, consumption sizes, etc… I’m just trying to give an overall picture here. You’ll have to figure the numbers for yourselves.
Now that my head is spinning with all that long division let’s talk about another benefit of storing coffee in small quantities is. Bartering! Yes, we all know that when things do down, that also means our current world of economy as we know it and we will be back to the basics. Having smaller sizes for this liquid black gold is ideal for trading.
Now that our beans are prepped and we know what sizes we want to store, let’s evaluate our different storage containers. Mylar bags or Cans. I’ll just run through advantages and disadvantages of each and allow you to make your own decision. They are both great options and really depend on your own situation and preference. Let’s take a look.
Storing with mylar bags, I think everyone would agree that mylar is probably the cheapest, easiest solution to get started, but this doesn’t come without consequences. Being that it is a clear plastic bag made from polyester resin, the lightweight and flexibility of it make it also very susceptible to tears when rotating inventory. Another disadvantage would be that it offers little protection from mice, rats, or bugs because they can chew right through the material. The delicate nature of the material means you need to be a little bit more careful handling it. While I’m not exactly sure what the shelf life of mylar bags are, I’d be willing to bet that it isn’t quite as long as storing in cans. This brings me to the next storage container.
Let’s talk about the disadvantages first. Obviously cans are a bit more expensive than mylar, heavier, and harder to seal up. These drawbacks are seemingly big at first, but when it comes to the advantages, I know you’ll agree that these seem pretty minute. Cans are one of the only storage containers that offer a true 100% gas barrier. Which is probably why food stored in cans are able to guarantee a shelf life of 25+ years. These tried, true, and tested containers are great for protection from mice, rats, bugs, and other varments as well as rough handling. They are incredibly durable and stack well with other canned food supplies you may already have.
Both of these methods are great for storing beans, and it really comes down to what your preference is. You decide what’s best for you.
All that being said, I now want to turn our attention back to the coffee beans. Here is the reason I wanted to walk you through the storage process. It’s because you need to understand how to do it right the first time before wasting your money and throwing coffee beans into some iron-sealed bags and calling it day. It may look great now, but the whole point of doing this is so that you can enjoy the fruits of your labor when you really need it. Trust me, you will need your Java Joe and you’ll be pretty ticked if you open up your coffee to find bugs, mold, or fungus, on your beans right when you’re having a zombie panic attack.
Can Someone Just Do It For Me?
I have searched high and low for a company that really focuses on coffee storage, and found none that was really serious about storing them right. I don’t know about you, but coffee is as important to me as beans, bullets, and band aids. Ok, not really, but you know what I’m saying.
Introducing Happy Home Foods. I decided to just do it myself and invest in the equipment to make sure it is done right. Kind of expensive, but it is my hope that I can help everyone who wants to package their coffee in a secure and safe way to ensure the longest storage life possible. I came up with Happy Home Foods to help save the time, expense, and energy for my customers who just need it done. You can take a look at it here on eBay and if you want to try it out you can. Please feel free to order a single or even a case and let me know what you think.
Why Happy Home Foods – Coffee
Extremely Long Shelf Life – Expected 10-20 years
100% Handpicked, Premium Brazilian Arabica Beans
Sealed Against the Elements- Oxygen, Moisture, UV
Makes up to 45 cups of coffee per can
Strict Quality Control Packaging Process Protects Coffee Freshness (9-12% Moisture)
1 Coffee, Unlimited Roasts
Re-Usable Plastic Lid
Great Barter Item
Perfect Ration Size
Canned in the USA
Oh, and as for the roasting instructions, all you need is a pan, heat source, and 15 minutes to roast the freshest cup of coffee you’ve ever had. Here are the steps that we place on every can so that you don’t forget.
Use Any Pan-Cast-Iron, Non-stick, Skillet
Step 1: Heat pan over medium high heat on stove or fire
Step 2: Pour half the can of beans into pan
Step 3: Stir constantly for the entire process
Step 4: Stir until you hear the first crack – Light Roast (7-9 minutes)
Step 5: Continue stirring until you hear second crack – Medium Roast (9-12minutes)
Step 6: Beans will become dark and shiny – Dark Roast (12-15)
Step 7: Remove from heat and strain flaky skins(chaff) with colander by shaking *Careful, very hot*
Step 8: Allow to cool and rest openly for 4 hours
Grind and Enjoy the Freshest Cup of Coffee Ever Tasted
I hope this article has at least helped you become a little bit more educated on some great ways to store your coffee beans, and I look forward to Happy Homes helping you keep the peace in times of chaos with your fresh green coffee beans.
Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.