How fresh is the coffee that you drink?
FRESHNESS is always an area of some contention, and a lot of coffee aficionados have their own different ideas of when coffee is the freshest and most delicious for making your coffee at home.
Either way, you will want to keep your coffee in good condition and prevent it from going stale, which you can do by storing in air-tight containers as much as possible. In a zip-loc bag (or similar) you will notice that the bag starts to inflate a little if the coffee is actually fresh as they give off Co2.
Let’s look at some of the ways that you can explore the freshness of the coffee and test it, and what impact this might have on your enjoyment while you are enjoying your coffee.
The date it was roasted
Coffee roasting companies often put the roast date on the bags, especially if you buy from smaller roasters and coffee companies, who have a more independent process.
At grocery stores you might find it much harder to find this information. Coffee beans roasted in huge batches means you probably won’t find any information about the freshness or roast date of the coffee.
The coffee should be at its peak for about 10 days after it has been roasted, but good packaging means that the coffee remains safe and in decent quality for some time.
When you buy from a local coffee company and get craft coffee, you will be able to check that the coffee wasn’t roasted too long ago. Also, make sure that you store the coffee properly rather than just letting the beans degrade.
Understand the bloom of coffee
This is one of those terms that you will hear if you hang out in enough independent coffee shops. When you use certain methods of brewing your coffee such as a pourover like a v60.
This is the bubbling that happens when you pour the water onto the coffee or they start to brew in a carafe or other container. This should be a foamy coating on the top of your coffee.
This happens because there is Co2 released into the water when the coffee is brewing. This is an indication that you still have some gas in the beans, which means the hot water is interacting, and releasing more and more into the coffee.
There are some misconceptions about coffee beans. Some people think that dry coffee beans means that they are fresh, but there is no connection between these characteristics and the freshness of the coffee.
Whether or not coffee beans are freshly ground can play a part. Many people agree that coffee that is freshly ground releases more of its flavour into the drink you end up with, so you can enjoy a much more delicious result.
How much does freshness matter?
If your coffee isn’t perfectly fresh then it doesn’t mean it is going to do you any harm. This is different from choosing whether to drink milk that has been out of the fridge for days!
Coffee kept as whole beans can last about 9 months in the pantry at a decent temperature and you can even choose to freeze beans to keep them safe to use for up to a few years. If you’re looking for safety, then beans that are a few weeks old aren’t going to let you down or make you ill, but if you are looking for the very best taste, the first 10 days are the “sweet spot”.
A lot of us have got used to mediocre coffee, and beans or ground coffee that have sat unused for ages are not likely to give you the most delicious taste you can get, especially if the coffee beans aren’t of great quality in the first place.
Keeping your coffee fresh
As we’ve already stated, freezing coffee is one of the options that people have for keeping coffee in decent condition for the long term. It isn’t optimum, and gases may still get released from the coffee, but it is a good way to ensure that the coffee is safe to use for long periods of time.
When you store your coffee, a zip-loc bag is a good idea, and airtight containers help to ensure that the elements don’t get to your coffee and make it go stale quicker. This is the same with pretty much any foodstuff.
A valved coffee bag can also be a way to ensure that the Co2 is still getting released, which can keep the coffee fresher for longer.
A lot of us are not drinking coffee that is at optimum freshness, and instead, we’re dealing with coffee that tastes suboptimal as a result. Paying a little attention to the freshness of your coffee can mean that more of the delicious flavours are released when brewing.