Cupping our Vintage Collection
13 November 2017

By Stean Fasol

In the early nineteenth century, Amsterdam became a key trading post for the coffee trade. It was during this time that Mr. J. Th. Douqué, set up as an independent coffee trader and established J. Th. Douqué’s Koffie BV.

Since the company was first established, many many coffee bean’s have passed through it’s doors. Recently the company undertook some small renovations and whilst clearing out redundant supplies, we found small quantities of some historic coffee stocks. The Quality Control team was given samples dating back to the 1950’s, the 60’s and the 70’s.

It was very interesting to review the old records. We reminisced about how coffee was traded in the past and the different countries of origin that participated such as Angola which no longer produce’s coffee, because of civil war or other destabilizing factors.

The team was surprised to see that in general, the coffee beans appeared to be in fairly good condition considering that we were working with a raw organic product, that had been standing around all these years. They had all changed color, away from the usual green bean to a sharper yellow tint. Some of the bean samples had become sticky and clumped together but there was no strong foul odour.

A good quality whiskey or wine is expected to improve with age in that the flavours generally become more smooth and pronounced. The team was therefore curious to know if there was possibly any parallel effect with older coffee samples. It was decided that we would review Guatemala beans and we proceeded to roast and cup 3 samples, one from each decade; namely 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s respectively.

The team first started by testing the moisture content of the samples. To our surprise, they hadn’t lost much moisture, with a content of around 10%, which usually are between 11% to 13% for the fresh samples from Guatemala that we receive currently.

After confirming the moisture content of the beans, 120 grams of each sample was roasted in our Probat sample roaster. The roasting process, proceeded normally except in terms of the colour track. It was difficult to determine when the heat exchange in the beans had started, as the beans were already slightly yellow at the start of the roasting process.

Once the beans had been roasted, everyone was intrigued to know how the years had affected the taste profile of the coffee…

The roasted beans were measured out and ground. Disappointingly it became clear that the aroma was unpleasant to say the least. When breaking the crust, we observed a sharp defunct aroma that varied from cup to cup with the coffee from the 1960s being the most stable out of the three.

Notes were taken, and measurements taken for a variety of quality parameters (from phenol to dusty dute bag).

Although exciting to delve into the past and reminisce about the history of the company, the team can quite positively confirm that there is no market for vintage coffees.

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