10 things you should know about coffee beans for the office

Date Posted:17 August 2013 

Helpful facts on buying coffee for the office
Not all roasted coffees are the same and some are not suitable for automatic office coffee machines. This article will help you understand some important differences between various coffees sold in Australia.


We list the top 10 facts you should know about buying coffee beans for your office coffee machine.

1. Coffee is a fresh food.

That's right, coffee is a fresh food that goes stale (oxidizes) inside of the triple-foil laminated, heat-sealed, 1-way valve packaging.

Despite the 12 month Best Before Date (or in the case of imported coffee beans it is typically 2 years), the coffee will be past it's peak usage window around 21 days from roast date.

Coffee never goes bacterial, so that is why a long Best or Use Before date is provided.

2. Buy only what you need for at most 4 - 6 weeks.

The next time you go to buy office coffee online, recommend buying 4 months worth of coffee at once. This is because it is on sale is actually a false economy.

By the time the last few packs are being opened, the coffee beans are dead and the staff will be wanting to kill you as well.

3. Office suppliers who provide your pens and stationary do not manage coffee properly.

Office Stationary suppliers know literally nothing about coffee.

They go out to market tender and source the cheapest and nastiest coffees, have the beans private label roasted and delivered in bulk to save money.

The coffee beans are then left in warehouse shelves with absolutely no care or attention to the peak usage windows.

Whilst it might appear as convenient to order roasted coffee beans from Office Equipment and Stationary suppliers, managing the stock of roasted coffee beans requires care and attention beyond the capabilities of Office suppliers.

Basically, they fail to deliver a quality cup and your office staff are just going to wander outside into the streets in search of a decent cup of coffee - wasting valuable time.

4. Always clean your equipment regularly

Milk and steam do not mix well. Milk line blockages are the #1 cause of office coffee machine failures.

Automatic coffee machines also need regular detergent (tablets dispensed in the machine's cleaning cycle) to remove the build-up of rancid coffee oils that taint the flavour and affect the performance of the coffee machine.

5. Dark, stale or old coffee beans cause bitter taints.

Dark roasted coffee beans and any old or stale coffee beans will eventually display oil on the outside of the coffee beans - even on freshly opened packs.

This oil on the surface of the coffee beans is a bad thing - once it is exposed to oxygen (sitting in the beans hopper of your coffee machine), the oils become rancid within hours. Rancid oils are bitter.

The objective with roasting coffee beans is to keep the oils locked inside the surface of the bean so they are released upon grinding and brewing.

As coffee beans age, the oil migrates from the inner core (or centre) of the bean towards the outside.

Once on the surface it oxidizes and turns bitter very quickly.

Coffee beans older than 60 days typically become oily and should be thrown away.

Oily coffee beans cause problems with small grinders installed inside of Automatic coffee machines - the oil causes a gum-like build-up that causes ground coffee to adhere - so you end up with a rancid gloop of yucky stuff that taints all the cups of coffee prepared on the machine until it is professionally cleaned.

6. Cycle your packs of coffee beans according to the Roast Date - use the oldest first.

It might sound stupid, but it is very common for office and cafe users to just put the newly arrived packs of beans at the front of the cupboard, whilst the existing older packs remain at the back.

When the day finally arrives for these older packs to be used - they are dead ! no flavor, just weak, bitter brews.

7. Coffee beans tipped into the machine's bean hopper will go stale

Oxygen exposure accelerates the staling of fresh coffee beans.

When you transfer the coffee beans from the pack into your coffee machine hopper, try to put about 2 - 4 hrs worth of coffee beans at any time, then seal the remainder in the pack with a bull-clip, or place into an air-tight container.

One common mistake is to top up the machine coffee bean hopper at the end of the day or week.

8. Never store coffee beans in the fridge or freezer.

The fridge is an absolute no-no. It causes moisture buildup that affects the freshness of coffee.

There are conflicting views on the internet regarding freezing of coffee beans - typically the people who do this action are "savers" looking to purchase in bulk to save money.

They place unused packs in the freezer and convince themselves that when the beans are removed and thawed for use that the coffee beans are just as good as the day they placed them into the freezer.

Unfortunately, this is one of those urban myths that has grown seriously big legs - it does not work and in fact it alters the delicate cell structures of the coffee beans in ways that degrade the performance of the coffee beans - so it is in fact detrimental.

How do we know this ?

Because we have testing the theory time and again over more than 3 years - storing bags of coffee beans for 1, 3, 6 and 12 months and then testing the results.

I'm sure it does improve upon not freezing the coffee when you consider something like a 6 month period, but who wants to keep coffee beans for 6 months anyway !

9. Grinders need adjustment

Grinders installed inside of Automatic espresso coffee machines tend to be smaller in comparison to the external units.

For this reason, they have smaller blades that wear faster, or require regular adjustment so that you can grind fine enough to produce a quality espresso extraction.

One way to check if your grinder or dosing is set correctly - if the brew flows fast and is completed within 18 seconds, then you know the coffee will be weak, contain very little or no body and may lack sweetness and is most likely bitter.

This is a sign of insufficient dosage or too coarse grind setting.

We always recommend setting your grinder to the finest setting until the machine is almost choked, then back off slightly so that you get a nice golden brown crema and slow flavour extraction.

10. Imported Coffee is already stale

Yes, that's right - the imported brands that feature impossibly beautiful people sitting in perfect environments - it's just marketing.

The imported coffee has spent the best part of 8 weeks in a very hot container.

The temperatures inside a shipping container can reach 65 C - well above the recommended 20 C required for storage of fresh roasted coffee beans.

Along with oxygen and moisture, heat also accelerates the staling effect.

To make matters worse, imported coffee beans are then stored in local Australian warehouses for months at a time before shipping to customers.

Give imported coffee beans the flick - always drink fresh roasted coffees.