When it comes to coffee the number one contributor to the quality of your morning cup experience is freshness. We take care of bean quality and the roast but there are lots of things you can do to make sure your coffee stays delicious. To start it’s important to understand that coffee begins to lose its freshness immediately after roasting so the sooner you can get your hands on a bag of beans the better. The process your coffee goes through after it leaves the hot roasting drum is dynamic and ongoing with major changes over the first week or two followed by general deterioration. Roasted coffee actively releases C02 gas from within the cells of the bean, a process known as degassing. This process changes the structure of the bean, it affects the aromatics and it will have an effect on your grind and machine settings. The process is exaggerated and accelerated in the case of ground coffee. This is due to the much greater surface area of ground coffee which is exposed to oxygen in any storage environment. This is why it is highly recommended that roasted coffee is stored as whole beans and ground on demand for your morning fix. Of course not everybody has a grinder at home and so we still sell pre-ground fresh roasted coffee but if we had to give one piece of advice to any home coffee enthusiast it would be to buy a good grinder. The amount of C02 remaining in the beans when you prepare your coffee, especially in the case of espresso, will have a great effect on how the compounds in the grounds are extracted. You can see the presence of C02 in your freshly pulled espresso shot in the form of the fine bubbly “crema” that forms on the surface as the C02 returns to ambient pressure and boils off. There is some disagreement about what the optimal time is from roasting to preparation to achieve the best quality brew but it's safe to say that withing 2-10 days is prime time deliciousness. Personally, I like the fact that coffee is constantly changing and I tend to treat each cup as an experiment. I like learning about how the age of beans combined with all the other variables (grind, pressure, water temp, brew method…) will affect the flavours, textures and my experience. So while it’s ultimately about searching for perfection it’s ok when we don’t always find it. Regardless, here's a couple of tips to help point you in the right direction.
Advice for maintaining freshness:
If you are buying beans from the supermarket they are likely already older than would be optimal, especially if you are buying pre-ground. So buy small amounts more often and try to buy directly from the roaster where possible. We aim to ship our coffee within 1-2 days of roasting so it’s in your cup in prime condition.
Properly stored, roasted coffee beans will be delicious for several weeks. Light, moisture, heat and oxygen will all work to deteriorate your fresh coffee. So store your coffee in a clean, odourless, air-tight container. Keep it somewhere cool and dry. If your storage container is glass or clear plastic keep it in the pantry away from light. Should I keep it in the fridge? Probably not and definitely don’t freeze it. The main argument against keeping coffee in the fridge is that when you take the cold container out of the fridge condensation will form at common ambient room temperatures and this is a sure way to introduce moisture to the beans which will accelerate deterioration greatly.
Store your coffee as whole beans and only grind enough for the brew/s you are about to make. If you don’t have a grinder, get one! We’re sure these tips will help you get the most out of any coffee you buy and will keep your taste buds singing your praises.