STiR coffee and tea magazine

Volume 3, Number 1

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60 STiR tea & coffee industry international ockside transfer and months at sea impose the harshest conditions on green coffee. Processing flaws at origin, such as the failure to sufficiently lower moisture content, are amplified in shipping containers that spend up to six-weeks bouncing and rolling at temperatures that span 75 degrees Fahrenheit (40 C) on journeys from the topics to the North Sea. Coffee quality always suffers in transit. But innovations in processing, packaging, monitoring containers at sea and the use of temperature and humidity sensors in sacks and containers helps. Recently the use of hermetic coextruded polypropylene bags at origin and container liners at sea have greatly reduced damage from exposure. Shipping and storage innovations The ocean ordeal ends when the 60-kilo (132-pound) jute, sisal or burlap sacks are stacked on kiln-dried 50" x 60" coffee boards. Jute remains the standard. While these bags afford little protection from the elements, jute is readily available at origin and more tolerant of abuse during loading. Advantages include the fact that jute stains are a tell-tale sign of water damage and mold long after the coffee has dried. Brazil was the first (2003) to package green coffee in synthetic vacuum-sealed bags "a critical quality innovation making the preservation of fine coffees' aromatics over oceanic shipments and subsequent storage far more controlled," according to George Howell of Terroir Coffee in Boston, Mass. Howell advanced these techniques another step by storing vacuum-packed coffee at zero Fahrenheit (-18 C) in 20-pound Mylar vacuum bags. The bags, in crates of three, are very effective but expensive and used only to protect specialty lots. Brazilians meanwhile are experimenting with packaging coffee in food grade paper. Green coffee arriving in bulk is often re-bagged into super sacks which are 35 x 35 x 52-inch portable, synthetic bins that hold 2,205 pounds of coffee and cost about $10.50 each. They hold the equivalent of 17 bags of coffee. Automated bagging equip- ment (dense-phase conveyors) can fill 60-kilo or 70-kilo synthetic bags that are then placed on (kiln dried) grocery pallets stacked five high. Advances in monitoring warehouse conditions maintain coffee quality but insurers warn that changing weather patterns threaten low-lying warehouses. High and Dry Continental Terminals Warehouse floor. Moisture must be carefully controlled during storage of green coffee. By Dan Bolton D

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