How fresh is fresh?
There seems to be a whole assortment of different opinions around coffee freshness.
Over the years a belief was built around the fact that one must consume their coffee as close to the roast date as possible.
Although it is better to consume a “fresher” coffee compared to a coffee that has been sitting on the shelf of a grocery store for a few months, there is such thing as too fresh!
The roasting process changes the molecular structure of coffee. One of the by-products is carbon dioxide. For the first 3 days after roast there is a large amount of carbon dioxide being expelled from coffee beans. During this period it is very difficult to get a good extraction regardless of the brew method you are using.
This occurs because as you pour the water, CO2 is escaping and this prevents the water from properly extracting your coffee. It’s like 2 polar opposites of a magnet. One is trying to escape and the other is trying to enter.
This ‘fight’ creates a very uneven extraction.
Roasted coffee needs to rest. Just like a good steak needs to rest for a few minutes after cooking, coffee beans need to rest for a few days after being roasted.
We have done many tests here at Mogiana Coffee and our consensus for the ideal window of roasted coffee is as follows:
For Espresso based beverages: from 5 to 20 days after roasted; beyond that you will begin to get less crema;
For Aeropress: from 7 to 45 days after roast
For Drip, Pour-over and French Press: between 10 to 45 days after roast; beyond that your coffee won’t bloom as much and the flavor starts slowly decreasing.
Beware of coffees that only have a Best Before date on the packaging. It’s best to look for “Roasted On” date. This is because different companies give their coffee a different “life span”. For instance, most commercial brands will put a best before day of one year after the coffee was roasted. Although the coffee won’t be spoiled, it will have lost much of the flavour after all that time.