My current stash in the fridge (new and old).
The truth be told, I am not the best at finishing my pack of coffee beans. I may be enthusiastic about buying them after having a taster of it at the roaster’s or a cafe, wild with thoughts of going home, settling into a morning routine of grinding my beans, blooming my grounds, and slowly in a hypnotic circular motion of the wrist, pouring water with my Hario kettle masterfully so that it will reach 350g on the scale at the precise moment of 2 and a half minutes. Who am I kidding? Mornings are a mad rush of bathroom activities, intensive grooming in front of the dressing table mirror, watering my plants and swallowing a variety of pills supposedly to help me be healthy. If I do have a sliver of time for coffee, I feel compelled to turn on the Nespresso machine and make that hurried cup of coffee expressed through a purple aluminium capsule.
Having said all that, I have a good variety of beans in my fridge and I am ashamed to say that some of them are old. They could be as old as almost 1.5 years old to something more current like 10 days old. This made me think of what I can do with the old beans? I think it is important to first figure out if they are still good for the purpose I intended other than making an espresso or filtered coffee. I asked myself what criteria should I base the beans on? I reckon that the beans should still be aromatic for starters. So I devised a method to test the beans.
If you were to think of coffee beans as a spice, in Asian cooking, we always toast our spices. Many different families have their own methods of doing this. If I were to base this on pure logic and science, as the bean is rather big, it does not make sense to toast it on a hot pan, because the outside of the bean will get burnt and the inside might not have even warmed up. So the best way, is to put the cold beans on a cold pan, and set it over a small flame (small flames are always easier to control the heat). I put the pan on the burner for 10s, pick up the pan and toss the beans, then set it back on the burner. I repeat the process for 70s. By then, you’ll realise that the bean is warm to the touch. Pour the beans onto a plate and let them cool down. At this juncture, give the beans a good sniff. That’s the test. If it still smells fantastic like what the packaging describes, it’s still good for other usages. If you smell nothing, please discard or grind them up to make compost for your plants, or even a good coffee scrub for your skin.
The beans that pass this test, you can use them for a variety of things like cold brew coffee (with or without milk), chocolate covered coffee beans, or my favourite, as a spice. I will be sharing with you two different ways that I used my beans, in a spice mix and infusing them in milk.
I am using my beans to make jar of whole bean infused milk, This one is rather straightforward. Warm the milk to 50degC (use a thermometer if possible, otherwise make sure it is warm to touch). Add the milk to 67g of toasted whole beans in a jar. Put in the fridge until you feel it is ready to use (always taste taste taste to find certainty). I personally feel that I liked it better after 3 days, then that is also dependent on the beans that you have. You can drink that infused milk neat or make that into a coffee milk pudding, part of an ice-cream, cake, even with your cereal if you please.
Top to Bottom: Smoked Sea Salt, Curry Powder, Dried Oregano, Paprika Powder, Coffee Powder, Celery Seeds and Brown Sugar.
I have also used the coffee beans as a spice. I have grounded up the bean finely, the same way you would grind for an espresso machine or aeropress. This mix has brown sugar, paprika, curry powder, celery seeds, smoked salt, freshly ground black pepper, dried oregano and coffee powder. There is no hard and fast rules with these spice mixes and the proportion of each you should use. You need to mix them together and taste them, then tune/season accordingly to taste. I personally like this mix as it is versatile. I can use this as a spice rub for meat, to flavour my cooking, or add in a little juice of an orange together with some tomato paste to make it a barbecue sauce for ribs.
Most importantly, have fun experimenting with your old beans, think creatively and do share with me how you have utilised yours.