Is the roast date important?
Did you know freshly roasted coffee is not necessarily tasty?
Knowing just how fresh your coffee beans are is one of the many challenges faced by someone who is new to brewing their own coffee for home, but don’t be shy about it! Sometimes it isn’t just the home brewers who have the same misconception, even cafe owners tend to be confused by this notion!
Unlike other perishable foods you would typically find on a day to day basis like bread, fruits, potato chips and so on, you would usually come across use-by date or best before date, coffee on the other hand typically has a roast date and in some cases, a best before date. As coffee will not make you sick after it’s “expiry date”, it will however lose its flavour and feel a little bit flat.
Does fresh really equate to good coffee?
Fresher isn’t really any better when it comes to whole coffee, if your coffee is too fresh, it will still go through a degassing stage (releasing CO2). What this means is that the coffee is still resting and is maturing, after having rested for any time between 12-14 days is when the coffee has reached its peak flavour development.
Like cooking a piece of steak, we are always advised to let it rest for the meat to relax and its juices distributed evenly, similarly after roasting we would want the bean to relax and then be able to let its natural flavours develop after going through a roasting chamber of nearly 200 degrees celsius.
The misconception of the fresher the coffee, the better comes from artisanal and small-batch coffee roasters that are trying to differentiate themselves from the typical commercial coffee roasters or franchises. Rather than mentioning an expiry date their way of standing out and differentiating themselves from the rest is to produce a roasted on date instead, to which it would allow the customer to better estimate the freshness of the product as opposed to how long one is able to keep a product until.
So, how old is too old?
This topic has been a hot topic among coffee geeks, general coffee drinkers and coffee professionals alike, due to the fact that there are many constant variables such as the quality of the coffee cherry, to the machine used as well as the style of the respective coffee roaster. The coffee itself will in turn develop and mature are variable periods.
The majority of specialty coffee professionals out there will state that the best period after the coffee has been roasted and rested is anywhere between 14 to 30 days.. This is because some coffees that have been roasted at the various levels (light, medium, dark) will then develop various qualities which may or may not diminish or develop over time. Therefore, a general ceiling or blanket statement would be usually as mentioned above (14-30 days)
The only way to find out if your coffee is at it’s best is to constantly taste your coffee, and to understand your coffee from a component level (mixture of beans for a blend or the origin of a Single Origin coffee). When in doubt, you may always approach your local roaster, barista or for some your wholesale manager for the best advice for buying, using and storing your beans.
BONUS TIPS! How to last longer?
What we meant was your coffee silly. One of the best and simplest ways to store your coffee is to keep it in a cool and dark place. Most of the time it is just your pantry area. It does not need to be a fancy space with a humidifier or a temperature control machine. So long as it is not exposed to direct heat or sunlight, it is more than enough. When purchasing any sort of coffee beans from us, rest assured that the bags that your beans are all sealed all have a zip bag feature to it. So whenever you're not using or making a cup of coffee, just make sure the seal is closed tight. Alternatively, using an airtight container does the job too, but even if one were to have such a container, it does not mean one should not keep it in a cool and dark space, that is wrong! You should still store it in such a space.
However, the ultimate tip to last longer is to ensure you grind your coffees fresh. That’s right! Purchasing your beans as a whole bean form preserves the coffee the best due to the insides not being exposed to the various elements which will make the coffee age and lose its flavour. By maintaining your coffee that way, one will be able to store their coffees for well more than the so-called prescribed time frame.