Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Coffee Readiness

We not only survived the 2012 Zombie Apocalypse in Livermore Falls; we got the zombies to wash our van. 
GQ is a font of wisdom on all kinds of subjects, so it should not be surprising that writer Cam Wolf has written about a serious matter of disaster preparedness: what about coffee?

He interviews a number of survivalists who make some interesting arguments about the value of coffee in an emergency, not only for its direct benefits in terms of energy and comfort, but also for its potential value as a tradable commodity. As cigarettes are to the prison yard, so coffee would be to extended off-grid survival.

Sudden Coffee cupping lab.
ostensibly.
As someone who was marketing combat and humanitarian rations in the period leading up to the Y2K scare, I know that long-term shelf stability is a key to such preparations. Otherwise, "preppers" (as Wolf calls them) would need to replenish their supply kits as often as they go to the grocery store. For this reason, they focus on freeze-dried coffee, though they claim to have found one that is substantially better than -- maybe even better than -- fresh-brewed coffee.

Sudden Coffee is "beloved among coffee snobs," according to Wolf, and employs an actual barista champion, according to the company web site. The involvement of Umeko Motoyoshi in "each step" of the process notwithstanding, I am very skeptical that any amount of care in the brewing process would allow the quality of coffee to remain intact through lyophilization and extended storage. I am also skeptical of coffee companies that claim to be trading directly but that provide no transparency about their sources.

The Sudden Coffee web site claims to offer "free" samples for the cost of shipping, but the online interface turns the sample order into a monthly subscription for that would provide instant coffee at a cost of $3 a cup! Thanks but no thanks. If I were a more cynical Coffee Maven, I might surmise that the entire GC article is simply part of a ruse to drive customers to this overpriced offer.

Wolf bolsters his claim by noting that humans and coffee originated in the same place, disregarding the millions of years it took for one to discover the other. Still, I certainly agree that coffee matters, and suggest a less costly approach for those who wish to hunker down in java readiness.

Once coffee is harvested, milled, and dried, it is generally considered shelf-stable for periods of two years or more.  Coffees with extremely refined flavor notes will lose some of those notes more quickly, but the vast majority of coffees are fine for several years once their internal moisture has gotten to the 11-13 percent range. I buy really good green coffee for the equivalent of 10 to 20 cents per cup, and roast it as I need it. My roasting is not expert, but it is so fresh that the result is still better than any coffee I can buy in my town.

Assuming there is a way to get fire and clean water in the apocalypse -- two rather bold assumptions -- a preparation kit that included a French press, a cast-iron skillet, and 10 to 20 pounds of green coffee could keep a survivor going for months. And for those interested in having something valuable to trade, a couple hundred bucks invested with Deans Beans could be worth thousands in a land overrun by zombies.

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