Why does my coffee bag have a vent near the top of the packaging? What are these little vents for and what would happen if coffee bags didn’t have this valve? I wanted to find out if they’re just smelling holes or something else, so I did some research to find out why coffee suppliers put these little button-shaped vents on their coffee bags.
Coffee bags come equipped with vents that release CO2 from the packaging while stopping air from getting in, allowing coffee beans to keep their natural flavors for longer periods of time. Freshly roasted coffee beans emit CO2 which, if unreleased, would cause the coffee bag to erupt or even explode.
Now, since you learned the purposed of the little valve on the bag you can chuckle at the next person you see using it to smell the aroma of the coffee. I imagine we’ve all done it before, I certainly have. Now that you know why coffee bags have vents you probably won’t be using them to inhale all that CO2.
What’s the Purpose of Coffee Bags Vents?
When fresh coffee beans are roasted, they release CO2 for a few days. This process is called degassing. Since coffee is packaged not long after roasting the beans are placed in airtight bags while still emitting the fumes. The purpose of these vents on coffee bags is to prevent the packaging from exploding on store shelves.
I know that is something I would like to see. Waiting for coffee bombs to go off while casually strolling down a grocery store aisle. As fun as that is to imagine, it would be a terrible business decision and probably no one would sell coffee in stores. Or if they did, it would be old, dried-out coffee.
These valves are a necessary part of the coffee bean packaging system allowing suppliers to send their coffee all over the country, even the world.
How Does the Vent Work?
As you already know, coffee releases carbon dioxide as a by-product of coffee roasting. Once the roasted coffee is packaged into small bags it continues to release its gas. A vent is placed near the top of the bag to release the gas, but how does it keep the air out?
The vent is a valve made of 3 components. The air-intel, what you see on the outside of a coffee bag, a plastic sealer in between the inner and outer wall of the valve, and an outlet on the inside of the bag.
The valve works in a neat way. CO2 from inside the bag pushes through the outlet and lifts the plastic sealer to escape through the air-intel. As air tries to sneak back into the bag through the air intel, the plastic sealer collapses back on the inner outlet, sealing the bag completely.
This little innovation changed the way we’re able to transport and therefore enjoy fresh coffee all over the planet.
Do Coffee Bags Actually Explode?
Obviously, coffee suppliers added a vent to their coffee bags for a reason. Even though it may not be the type of explosion you may be imagining, coffee bags can erupt if not degassed.
When fresh coffee is packaged it releases CO2 which expands the packaging. Common examples of a bag popping would be one of the corners bursting open from the pressure. It’s the freshly roasted coffee beans that can release so much gas they cause bags to explode.
What’s even crazier is that coffee has been known to shatter glass. Some unexpecting person is in the kitchen, about to brew their morning cup. Completely oblivious to the shock they’re about to receive they pull off the lid from their glass coffee jar and POP! Coffee and glass go flying across the whole kitchen!
So much gas built up inside the container caused the glass to shatter as soon as the lid was lifted off.
Coffee bags come with vents to prevent the bags from exploding. Without them, the coffee supplier would have to sell old, dry, dull coffee or take the chance of their coffee bags exploding during transportation, in stores, or in people’s homes.
I find it neat how a little button-shaped plastic circle has such a significant impact on the coffee industry. A bright person came up with a simple solution to a serious issue. Thanks to them we can enjoy freshly roasted coffee from all over the planet.
We’re thankful to this unknown hero, and my next shot of espresso is for you!
How Do You Open A Coffee Bag with a Vent?
The best way to open a coffee bag is with a pair of scissors, cutting it right across the top just above the resealable flaps. It’s never a good idea to tear a bag of coffee open because you won’t be able to seal it afterward.
A big hole in your coffee bag lets air mix with your coffee beans, dulling their flavor and aroma. I suggest getting a canister for your coffee instead of storing it in a bag.
Do Coffee Canisters Have a Vent?
All good coffee containers come with a built-in CO2 vent. Usually built into the lid, you can see a tight valve pushing gas out of the canister and keeping air from getting out.
A coffee canister is a perfect way to prolong the shelf life of your coffee beans. Some ceramic or glass coffee containers won’t have a vent because these containers are mostly for decorative purposes.
How to Keep Coffee Fresh After You Open the Bag?
Once a coffee bag has been opened it’s best to transfer all the beans to an airtight container. Leaving the coffee in a bag exposes them to air which will cause the beans to lose their flavor.
The coffee container should be stored at room temperature, ideally in your pantry. Here’s a whole article about keeping coffee beans fresh.
I’ve always seen coffee as a way of bringing people together. Everywhere I go people seem to enjoy a fresh cup of coffee and that’s what drives my passion. There’s always a new brew to master, and there’s always a new face to enjoy it with. Hitch a ride with me on a coffee-fueled adventure to find a perfect cup.