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Are you noticing your coffee beans are oily when you purchase them? Maybe the light roast you bought was dry but now is turning oily a few weeks down the line. If you’re wondering how to dry oily coffee beans, read on.
You’ve been warned not to use oily coffee beans in your super-automatic or semi-automatic coffee machine. While it’s not possible to reverse the oiliness of the coffee bean, not all oily coffee is bad news. It’s knowing how and why coffee beans are oily and when they do become a problem.
If you’ve ended up with your favorite lighter roasts of coffee turning oily, you may be wondering if you can dry them. Oils occur naturally in coffee beans and the longer they’re exposed to oxygen, the oilier they’ll become on the surface. Dark roasts are oilier because of the roasting process – we will go deeper on this later.
So, now you want to get rid of or dry the oil layer on the surface. Can this be done? Unfortunately, no. And don’t be tempted to wash the beans – you’ll end up with a very disappointing, flavorless brew. So, what can you do with beans that have turned oily?
The biggest concern with using oily beans is the damage they can cause to semi-automatic or super-automatic coffee machines. These appliances have been designed to grind and brew your coffee all in one machine. Which is highly convenient until you start using dark roast coffee beans. Oil creates layers of greasy gunk on all parts of the machinery. Eventually, your coffee maker will become sluggish.
This doesn’t mean you can’t use dark roast coffee in your espresso machine. After all, espresso drinkers love the bolder taste and flavor of the dark roast. You can choose a medium-dark roast or, if the coffee roasting process was expertly done, you can determine the level of greasiness on the bean. A dark roast is possible without heavy layers of oil on the surface.
Use a burr grinder to grind coffee beans that are too oily for automatic coffee machines. Burr grinders are easier to take apart and clean. You could also use a French Press whenever brewing up a cup of coffee brew with oilier beans.
Another concern about coffee beans that have turned oily is the flavor. If your coffee has gone oily because of exposure to oxygen, the taste will become stale and bland. If you’re not keen on tossing these beans out, you can blend them with fresher, dry light roasted coffee. This often balances out the oil and you run less risk of clogging up filters and machinery parts.
Before tossing those oily beans into the bin, think again. If you’ve heard oily coffee beans are stale or old, it’s not completely true. Let’s explore what makes coffee beans oily or dry.
The coffee cherry is naturally made up of lipids, carbohydrates, caffeine, water, and sugars. When the beans are heated, all these compounds react differently. During the roasting process, the water converts to steam. The pressure increases and the bean changes color, eventually starting to crack.
The sugars undergo a caramelization process and this enhances the flavor of the bean. Depending on the roast type, roasters will take the beans out at this point for a light or medium roast. But, if they’re looking for a darker roast, the process continues.
It’s at this point, the lipids come to the surface of the beans in the form of oil. We recognize this as a shiny, sticky coating on the bean. Many people will refer to these beans as oily coffee beans.
So, all beans naturally contain oil. It’s the roasting process that determines the dryness or oiliness of the bean. The light or medium roast is likely to be dry. But the longer coffee sits in your kitchen, the oilier it’ll get. This is because the oil will continue to interact with oxygen and over time, the chemical reaction leads to an oilier bean coating.
Coffee drinkers and coffee roasters will debate in favor of oily beans – or out of favor! Some will argue the oils in coffee beans should stay inside and not come out. If it does, the flavor of your coffee brew could be bitter and acidic. But other coffee drinkers will say the oils add a smoky flavor to the brew.
Espresso coffee drinkers believe the dark roast and therefore, oilier bean makes for a better cup of espresso. This again isn’t necessarily true. It’s all about the quality of the bean and the quality of the roast.
The oily sheen can be an indication you’ve purchased freshly roasted coffee. If you open a packet of dark roast and find it’s lacking oil, you can be sure it’s stale. The light and medium roasted coffee are often referred to as non-oily coffee beans.
Expert roasters know how to achieve a dark roast without producing too much oil on the outer surface. Instead, the outer bean covering will have more of a sheen without the feeling of greasiness. These roasters also know it’s important to package the roasted coffee as soon as possible. Any exposure to the air increases the chemical reaction between the lipids and oxygen.
So, when it comes down to deciding if coffee beans with a sheen are good or bad depends on:
The best way to prevent oily coffee beans is to buy a light roast or medium roast coffee. If you do notice an oily surface then these beans have been left out too long before being packaged. You’ll end up with a bland or stale tasting coffee.
If there’s no sheen, the beans are fresh and have been packaged as soon as they’ve been roasted. Once you open the packet and the beans are exposed to oxygen, a chemical reaction will take place. If you don’t seal your coffee in airtight containers, once opened, this chemical process will be hastened. And you’ll end up with oilier coffee beans sooner than you want!
The other way to prevent oily coffee beans is to avoid dark roast coffee. But only if it’s not from a reliable roaster. Dark roast coffee is good so if you’re a fan of this type of roast you don’t have to avoid it altogether.
Dark roast coffee that is oily is often synonymous with bolder coffee brews. This is a common belief among many coffee drinkers. This also explains why espresso drinkers will lean towards the dark roast coffee. But the trick with any coffee brew is playing with the water to bean ratio and optimizing the coffee grind.
A finer grind exposes the surface area of the bean to the water. This allows for more flavors to be extracted. Adding more scoops of coffee to the water also gives you more scope to create the bolder taste you’re wanting from your brew.
The length of time you brew your coffee will enhance the flavors and give you a bolder coffee. The longer you brew, the stronger your coffee flavors and tastes will be.
If you don’t want to drink coffee that has turned oily, you can use them in other ways:
While oilier roasted coffee beans can’t be dried at home, you can use them in different ways. It’s always best to buy the roast blend giving you less oil on the coating if you’re using a super-automatic or semi-automatic coffee machines. Choose the light or medium roast coffee to be on the safe side. If you’re still keen on a darker roast, then opt for the medium-roast coffee bean.
Be sure to store your coffee beans in well-sealed packets or airtight containers and keep them in a cool place in your kitchen. Grind coffee beans that have gone oily with dry coffee beans – if anything, you may discover a new blend!