Coffee is best served as fresh as possible. While there’s always the coffee shop downtown to serve you a fresh cup, when making coffee at home you will have to rely on bags of coffee beans that have already been roasted.
The caveat to that is that after the producers/growers roast the beans they will almost immediately start to break down because of oxygen.
That’s where a packing method called nitrogen flushing can come in and save the day but is nitrogen flushed coffee safe for people?
Nitrogen flushing is a perfectly food-safe packing method and does no harm to humans.
It does NOT hurt the flavor of your coffee in any way.
The main benefits of the nitrogen flushing method include:
- helping your coffee keep its fresh taste for longer after opening the bag.
- preserving unopened coffee beans or grounds, allowing them to stay fresh for up to a year.
Want to know more? Keep reading to get a better look at how nitrogen flushing works and how it keeps your coffee at its peak.
What is Nitrogen Flushing?
Nitrogen flushing is a packaging method that fills the package with nitrogen gas and flushes out oxygen.
Nitrogen does not affect the coffee and doesn’t do anything to the flavor, preserving the coffee’s freshness.
After the roasting, the beans are sent along to begin filling containers and be sealed.
After filling the packages, machines start the nitrogen flushing. The oxygen within the bag or container will be forced out and flushed (replaced) with nitrogen gas.
They are then quickly sealed shut to prevent the gas from leaking out and sent to shipping where they will find their way to your grocery store.
Is Nitrogen Bad for Coffee?
Oxygen makes food decay in a process called oxidation. The food’s chemical structure starts to break down, this leads to things like stale bread or chips, withered veggies, and of course, stale coffee.
This is especially true with coffee because it is filled with oils that, while flavorful and aromatic, are very prone to oxidizing.
However, since all of the oxygen is pushed out of the container before sealing, oxidation can’t take place, keeping your coffee and its oils and flavor intact and fresh.
Unopened, it can last up to 6 months. After opening, it’s recommended you consume your coffee within 7-10 days, just like any other coffee.
In terms of taste, nitrogen has no effect on the coffee and doesn’t do anything to the flavor, thus preserving the coffee’s freshness for much longer.
Another helpful side benefit is that it also can keep bugs out and help prevent infestations in coffee storage.
Is Nitrogen Flushing Harmful?
Nitrogen flushing has no harmful effects on neither food nor humans and animals. This packing method has been used on many food products and it keeps them safe, and not just from going bad either.
If you’ve ever purchased a package of coffee, a bag of potato chips, or any food that can be easily crushed in a bag the “air” that takes up most of the space is actually nitrogen gas.
While a lot of us are generally disappointed in the sad reality of chips taking up only a small portion of space, this is actually a good thing.
The nitrogen gas not only keeps our coffee and chips safe from oxidizing, but the gas bloating the bag helps keep it from getting easily crushed.
In the end, nitrogen flushing is protective, rather than harmful.
About Nitrogen and Its Effects
While the nitrogen gas keeps food safe and is said to be harmless to people and animals, is it actually harmless? Yes, it is. In fact, you’re breathing it right now!
The air we breathe is a combination of oxygen and nitrogen. With the latter making up 78% of the atmosphere.
The only time it would be bad for you is if you inhaled only pure nitrogen for a long period.
Taking the 7th spot in the periodic table, nitrogen gas doesn’t have a taste or smell, and because the bond between nitrogen molecules are strong, it is considered stable, or non-reactive.
This means it won’t cause any damaging effects on the chemicals that make up food. These properties are what make it the go-to for food preservation.
Nitrogen is denser, or “heavier” than oxygen. This means that the molecules of nitrogen are bigger than oxygen’s.
And because the nitrogen takes up more space, the flushing method will force and squeeze the oxygen molecules out of the packaging until the nitrogen and coffee are all that’s left.
Since there is no oxygen, the coffee’s chemical breakdown is slowed down by a great deal.
Should You Buy Nitrogen Flushed Coffee?
The packing process called nitrogen flushing replaces the air in the coffee bag with nitrogen gas.
Thanks to the gas’s properties, it protects your coffee as well as preserving its flavor and keeping it fresher for longer.
Coffee that is nitrogen flushed is no threat to people or animals and is regarded as one of the best ways to buy coffee.