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Cool Beans, Mon!

August 1, 2005 By: Stephanie vL Henkel, Sensors Sensors


Millions of us rely on a good cup of coffee to jump-start our mornings and provide the perfect finish to our evening meals. Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee is one of the world's most recognized and sought-after brands of that beverage.



To ensure the high quality of Jamaica's coffee beans, the Kingston-based Jamaican Coffee Industry Board is conducting a series of environmental trials focused on coffee storage facilities throughout the island. The aim of the research is to evaluate the effects of indoor climate on the beans.

According to Gail Nelson, a research officer with the Coffee Industry Board, "Jamaican coffee beans are dried to an ideal moisture level of ~12%, and the storage environment needs to be stable in order to maintain that level. Ideally, warehouse temperatures should be somewhere between 20°C and 25°C with RH in the 60%–70% range."

Some facilities might not be stable enough to safely store the beans because they lack proper environmental controls and are constructed of materials not entirely suitable for the application. "We want to compare different warehouse conditions and find out how they may be affecting bean moisture levels," says Nelson. "If the beans are losing too much moisture, there can be a negative impact on flavor and quality."

Onset's HOBO data loggers take and record readings of temperature and RH every 15–30 min. in eight locations across the island. Nelson periodically downloads the data onto a PC and uses accompanying software to compare time-stamped graphs of each warehouse to see how climate fluctuates. "From these trials," Nelson says, "we hope to be able to make some conclusions over time about the overall storage conditions of each facility and take corrective action if necessary, such as sealing off roofs or installing better environmental controls."

Contact Scott Ellis, Onset Computer Corp., Bourne, MA; 800-564-4377 or 508-759-9500, scott_ellis@onsetcomp.com, www.onsetcomp.com/hobo.


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