In the modern world of specialty coffee, freshness is often the first thing consumers look for. Is there a roast date on the bag, when was the coffee roasted, etc. This curiosity was born from the fact that in the past, and still today, commercial roasters would roast a coffee and have it sit on a retail shelf for well over a year. The ability for commercial roasters to roast a coffee darker, and also not showcase transparancy in terms of when it was roasted, allowed them to offer a less than optimal coffee for purchase. 

The pursuit for freshness was driven by quality roasters seeking freshly harvested coffee, and also offering transparency in terms of when the coffee was roasted. And with that, we have slowly developed a better understanding as to when best to enjoy the coffee.

When a coffee is roasted, is undergoes a degassing process, whereby Carbon Dioxide starts to be released from the roasted beans. During the first days and weeks of when the coffee was roasted, there is a rapid release of CO2, creating instability, particularly during the extraction of the coffee.

Which leads us to the question, if the coffee is too unstable to extract shortly after the roast date, when is the ideal time. Well, there is no real hard and fast answer to this. Each coffee has its own identity, personality and reactive development of flavour stability.

As we adopt an omni-roast approach, our lighter/faster roasted coffees degas slower, hence are best starting at least 7-14 days from the roast date. Always keep in mind, that just after the roasting, more than 40% of CO2 leaves the coffee, so definitely it is not best to have a freshly roasted coffee.

When a coffee is well settled, you will find the bloom of the coffee is less aggressive and particularly with espresso, the crema will be less dense. As our pursuit is for clarity in flavours, we prefer less muddled volatile flavours, which again are less apparent with more settled coffees. The fresher the coffee, the more uneven the extraction as well due to excessive amounts of CO2 escaping during the grinding and brewing process.

It is not uncommon to have coffees develop in flavour over time, just like the maturation of a fresh fruit. Oxidation is the enemy of all things fresh, as oxygen causes staleness in coffee, particularly once the coffee bag has been open and the beans have been exposed to the environment.

To further extend the longevity of a packaged coffee, it is not uncommon to Nitrogen-flush coffee beans upon packing. This allows the coffees shelf life to be extended by anything up to 6 months, without risking staleness. Nitrogen flushes out oxygen, eliminating moisture and bacterial growth. This method of packaging, coupled with a one-way valve, keeps all the goodness in place until the coffee is ready to be brewed.

The more you explore the unexplained curious world of coffee, you start to learn that there is never a one rule for all when is comes to coffee. There is a case to be heard for too fresh a coffee, as there is also a case for old stale coffee, however as not all coffees are packaged and sealed the same, it’s important to know all the facts before only looking at the roast date to decide when the coffee is best to brew.

As we always say, have fun exploring your coffee.