Quality Control for Coffee, Hops, and Cannabis

Posted by David Anderson on

Quality Control for Coffee, Beer, and Cannabis

What do coffee, beer, and cannabis have in common?

Well, aside from the fact that they all make you feel good, they all have special properties that make them what they are. Coffee has caffeine, beer has alcohol, and cannabis has tetrahydrocannabinol (better known by its acronym: THC).

While consumers of these products mainly buy them for their “special” properties, they also buy them for the unique flavor profiles and aromas that make them distinctive.*

To ensure these products maintain peak freshness, flavor, and potency it is very important that these products are carefully preserved as they make their way through the supply chain and to the customer.

The best way to preserve the freshness, flavor, aroma, and potency of coffee, hops, and cannabis is to keep them away from oxygen.  “And what is the best way to do this?” You may ask. Nitrogen-flushed packaging.

Oxygen is the Enemy

While oxygen is life to us humans, it is death to coffee, hops, and cannabis. When it comes to maintaining the quality of these products, oxygen is indeed the enemy. It is responsible for the process of oxidation, which ruins the delicate attributes of these products.

What is oxidation, and why is it so bad for these products? During oxidation, oxygen pulls electrons away from the other molecules around it. These molecules which now have an uneven number of electrons (and are now free radicals) become unstable and begin reacting with other molecules around them. These free radicals are the cause of everything from aging, rusting, deterioration, and for coffee, hops, and cannabis, staling.

When these products oxidize and go stale they lose the rich chemical complexities that give them their unique flavors and aromas. In short, bad coffee is stale coffee; and good coffee is fresh coffee, that is, coffee that has been successfully kept away from oxygen.

Now that we have talked a little about the negative effects oxygen has on these products, let’s look at how coffee, hops, and cannabis producers are combating it.

Nitrogen Flushing for Cannabis

When it comes to the oxidation of cannabis, oxygen converts the THC in marijuana to cannabinol, or CBN, which lowers the psychoactive attributes of the marijuana. Nitrogen flushing stops this conversion. It keeps the marijuana fresh in appearance and taste, for an extended time and is one of the few packaging techniques that masks the aroma of marijuana when it is in the package. Essentially, nitrogen flushing prolongs the shelf life of the marijuana, so that it keeps its strength. Nitrogen flushing also helps keep marijuana free of molds. Nitrogen flushing has the final benefit of keeping delicate products from being crushed. 

Nitrogen flushing is currently the only known methodology for keeping marijuana rich in THC and CBD by stopping the oxidation process, and that’s exactly why all the best-known clinics, laboratories, and dispensaries of marijuana nitrogen-flush their packaging to preserve  their product.

Where We Come In: Bridge Analyzers Delivers Quality Control through Gas Analysis

Bridge Analyzers Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) gas analyzers can be used by coffee, cannabis, and hop producers during their Quality Control testing processes to confirm that their finished, packaged product is fully sealed from air intrusion and incorporates the proper gas mixture necessary to meet the desired levels of freshness, flavor, aroma, and potency that are desired.

*As a note, when discussing beer we will mainly be talking about hops and hop preservation, not beer.