Some of the coffee capsules we produce are for retail sale and are expected to be consumed in a short time.
However, some are expected to be wholesaled or may be placed on supermarket shelves for a long time.
In this case, longer shelf life is required.
Every coffee has a peak post-roast period and should be consumed during this time if you want to enjoy its best flavor.
For some coffees it's just several days, for others it may be as long as several weeks.
Ground coffee is a dry food and just like most dry goods that doesn’t actually go bad, but if it’s left too long after its peak, its flavor or freshness will start to be lost and turn out flat.
This is called shelf life, and it is closely related to freshness.
Roasted coffee has four traditional enemies: oxygen, light, moisture and heat.
Even though it should be given some time to "breathe" after roasting, which means it was allowed for exposure for a period of time, but if it lasts too long can quickly cause lost of its freshness.
The process of packaging was invented to make it easier for food to last longer on the shelf, but the length of that time depends on a number of factors, which can be the coffee capsule packing machine or package material or the storage environment, and the packer must pay close attention to.
Actually the first thing we should pay attention to is one step prior to packing: grinding.
Part.1: Grind size and grind quality
You can only achieve a proper and stable coffee extraction in a short 20 seconds brew time when respect to both grind size as well as grind quality (variation around desired average particle size).
If the size of ground coffee particle is different from each other, the surface area in contact with the water during each brewing will change (the substance extracted at each brewing will not be stable), then ideal uniform extraction cannot be achieved.
In any brewing application, the goal of grinding is to achieve the exact same and ideal size coffee particle.
however, this is not possible due to the mechanical limitations of any type of coffee grinding equipment.
Therefore, instead, we aim to maximize the "fit-to-size" particle fraction and minimize the variance of the other coffee particles from the desired average particle size.
Since the grind size affects the taste, and the taste is also a measure of shelf life, so it’s the first factor that we should pay attention to.
We all know the degassing process which refers to the gases releasing from roasted coffee.
When you roast coffee, gases -- including large amounts of carbon dioxide -- form inside the coffee beans.
In one book called Espresso Coffee: The Science of Quality, the author estimates that the release of carbon dioxide is directly related to the loss of volatile substances.
Release 50% carbon dioxide and half of the aroma will disappear and the darker the roast, the greater the loss, he wrote.
In most cases, once the coffee is roasted, you only have 2-3 weeks to experience its optimal freshness and flavor.
For fresh ground coffee, it takes only 30 minutes to get to the point where the freshness drops off quickly and noticeably.
Research shows that some ground coffee loses most of its aroma after 30 minutes.
Each coffee may be a little different, but what is certain is that you need to choose the timing of the grind based on your experience and fill the coffee grounds into the capsule quickly.
For professional coffee roasters who produce their own capsules, it is very important to keep the time between grinding the coffee and sealing the pods as short as possible.
Packaging containers (capsules) come in different shapes, materials and designs.
All of these combine to play an important role in ensuring that packaged coffee granules last as long as possible.
A good container which can gives the coffee powder a long shelf life must protect them from exposure to light, moisture and oxygen.
Aluminum capsules tend to offer the best barrier properties because they are impervious to water and air and protect the coffee from aroma loss. Plus, they are 100% recyclable.
The PP plastic capsules tend to offer good barrier properties to light and moisture, but not a good barrier to oxygen, so can’t be used for long time preservation directly.
While the PP + EVOH + PP multi-layer structure plastic capsules effectively solve the defect of poor oxygen barrier properties.
The PET or PBT plastic capsules also tend to offer good barrier properties to light, moisture, and oxygen, it’s very suited for long time preservation.
The PLA plastic or other bio-degradable materials tend to offer a poor barrier to moisture and oxygen, but the good news is that recently there are some companies solved this problem.
The packing process is very important to the shelf life of packaged coffee.
The single-use of packaging actually helps the capsules stay fresh because the seal is only broken when the coffee is used, rather than being reused like a one-pound bag.
Coffee capsules do not require a complicated packing process, as long as they are well sealed.
The bottom line is to keep the product free from contamination, safe and stable during the packaging process.
Therefore it’s essential that the coffee capsule packing machine is made of 304/316 food-grade stainless steel in the part which contact with coffee, and it has a stable filling weight and sealing quality.
Meanwhile, nitrogen flushing creates an improved atmosphere inside the pods that can keep coffee for up to 6 months.
Each capsule is flushed with nitrogen to squeeze out oxygen, and if it’s possible, vacuum outer sealing can maximize the isolation of oxygen, light, and moisture.
After looking at all the other factors, the final piece of the puzzle is the storage environment.
If the storage environment is wrong, even if you get other things right, everything can go to waste.
You have to take into account temperature, cleanliness and air humidity.
High heat and high humidity environment will make food spoil faster.
So, make sure storage areas are clean, dry and open.
Studies have shown that a 10°C increase in temperature increases the rate of deterioration by 15-23%.
However, that doesn't mean you should store your coffee capsule in the freezer.
The humidity can cause moisture to seep into the package.
A not hot, not bright, and dry place like a pantry or cupboard may be a good choice.
Avoid placing in warm places such as right above or near to the oven or in cabinets that are hot from exposure to sunshine or heat from cooking equipment.
There are some tips to increase the shelf life of the coffee capsule you’re producing or using that are described in this article.
·Pay attention to grinding quality and timing
·Choose the capsule which has excellent barrier properties
·Choose a coffee capsule packing machine with good sealing quality
·Use nitrogen flushing during capsule produce
·Ensure a good storage environment
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