How fresh is best for coffee?
How long after roasting does your coffee stay fresh?
One of the primary focal points of the speciality coffee industry is freshness and clarity of flavour and it's essential for the end-user to know the roast date of the coffee they are working with. After the roasting process coffee needs to degas by releasing CO2. This resting and degassing process can take days, even weeks and the best flavours tend not to be found within the first few days after the roast. There is a common misunderstanding that all coffee roasting businesses that are worth buying from will roast coffee to order. This can actually be more of a problem than a positive! Fresh roasted coffee beans are always the best thing to buy but this blog post will help you to understand a bit more about how fresh is best.
Brewing with fresh roasted coffee beans less than 5 days?
We roast coffee on a Loring S35 every week day and cup coffees on a regular basis. Our quality control cupping will often happen the day after, or perhaps two days from roasting. We know from experience that the perceived flavours within the coffee will not be at their best so soon after roasting.
I've found that flavours tend to open up after about 5 days from the roast date and are at their best for a good 1 to 3 weeks from roasting.
If you can't wait then don't worry too much and just go ahead with brewing! However, we'd always recommend waiting a good 5 to 7 days before brewing any of our coffee.
I've been testing some coffees at home with longer rest dates using a Mahlkonig Vario and Aeropress and I'm still getting fantastic flavour character from some of our coffees at 5 weeks from roasting! Some of the bright front end acidity has become muted but the sweetness and intense fruit character is still very evident. As long as the coffee is stored properly in a sealed container (not in the fridge) in a cool dark place in whole bean form our single origins should continue to taste great for at least 4 weeks from the roast date.
What about brewing coffee for espresso?
Resting for espresso is even more important than for other brew methods. If used to soon the degassing during the espresso extraction process can cause issues including channelling and will always be more difficult for the barista to work with. If we need to test coffees at the roastery on our La Marzocco we try to wait for a minimum of 5 to 7 days but this is still too soon. At our shop, Bond St Coffee, we aim for a resting time of 12-14 days as this always gives better clarity of flavour.
Things to consider when looking for fresh roasted coffee beans:
Don't worry too much about buying coffee roasted to order. It's often better to buy coffee with a roast date on the bag but from a roaster that lets the coffee rest a bit. This means you might actually receive your coffee in the post rested a few days and ready to start drinking right away! Just make sure you always buy fresh roasted coffee in a bag with the roasting date.
We hope you've found this blog post useful. If possible always try to rest the coffee you purchase for a good 5 days from the roast date and don't worry too much about stocking up on 3 to 4 weeks worth of coffee! Just make sure you always grind fresh and store the whole beans in a cool dark place in a sealed container and please don't put them in the fridge.