Fresh AF With a Nitro Flush

By D.J. Costantino | Briana Balducci

By

D.J. Costantino
Briana Balducci
Pour-over selection at Bar Nine
Pour-over selection at Bar Nine

When it comes to keeping coffee fresh, oxygen is the enemy. The gas hastens the development of rancid flavors and the loss of aroma compounds. Taking a cue from some of the world’s top roasters—George Howell and Tim Wendelboe—Zayde Naquib flushes bags of his Bar Nine coffee with nitrogen before sealing in the beans. He uses a vacuum sealer from American Industrial Electric with a gas attachment, and the bags contain less than one-tenth of one percent oxygen. Whole bean coffee tastes vibrant for up to six weeks after roasting, and the four additional weeks of freshness add only four cents to the cost. The nitro-bathed beans allow customers to have better tasting coffee at home, and wholesalers to keep a larger supply stocked. 

Naquib is pushing nitrogen-flushing even further by embracing the supermarket staple and cardinal sin of specialty coffee: pre-ground beans. “I never imagined selling pre-ground coffee, and being okay with it,” he says. Pre-ground coffee has a much larger surface area than whole bean coffee, which rapidly increases staling. But while running a Bar Nine pop-up in Highland Park, Naquib found that pre-weighed, ground coffee packets flushed with nitrogen “tasted fantastic” when brewed to specifications. The coffee also performed well brewed over ice for a Japanese-style iced coffee (that conveniently eliminates the need to transport cold brew).

Bar Nine’s brew packets have since evolved. Their 235-gram packets can be extracted four ways: as hot brew, ice brew, steeped cold brew, and as coffee concentrate. It’s become a cornerstone of Bar Nine’s wholesale program, ensuring wholesale clients’ coffee is at its best without them having to invest in additional staff training. Quality control is left up to Naquib and his team, who make weekly grind-size adjustments at their Culver City headquarters, measuring extractions with a refractometer to ensure perfect brews.

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