Freshness is the soul of an exceptional coffee. When selecting beans, pay attention to the roasting date. Although it is true that coffee has a tendency to maintain a very long shelf life, the freshness of its beans can disappear after a couple of weeks (the maintenance of freshness depends on several factors).
However, it is important to understand that the freshness of coffee is not the same as other products. For example, a freshly baked product is ready to be consumed when it comes out of the oven and cools down a little. But coffee does not work like that.
This is because coffee has a process called degassing.
What is Coffee Degassing?
The period of time in which the gas escapes from the roasted coffee beans. This process begins immediately after finishing the roasting process and can last from 2 to 3 weeks. The reason why it is not a good idea to prepare coffee immediately after roasting is because not all the gasses have escaped yet and the flavor will change as this process happens. We recommend consuming it 4 to 5 days after it has been roasted.
However, this depends on how you are going to brew your coffee. When it comes to espresso, it is important to let the coffee beans rest between 5 days and two weeks before using them. Espresso is especially sensitive to the time that elapses before its preparation, due to the fact that its infusion period is shorter; therefore, every second counts. Natural process coffees take longer to degas than washed varieties. Lighter roasted coffees also require more time than those of darker roasts, which are roasted for a longer period of time.
Packaging plays a crucial role in determining the freshness and longevity of coffee beans. The type of packaging can significantly impact how long the beans will maintain their freshness. For instance, coffee that is stored in a paper bag or a tin can has a relatively shorter shelf life compared to beans stored in sealed containers with a valve.
When coffee is bought in a paper bag or a tin can, it typically remains fresh for around 1-2 weeks after purchase. The porous nature of paper allows oxygen and moisture to seep into the bag, which can quickly degrade the quality of the beans. Similarly, tin cans may not provide an airtight seal, allowing the entry of outside air and moisture, leading to a more rapid loss of flavor and freshness.
On the contrary, coffee beans that are packaged in sealed containers with a valve offer a significantly extended shelf life. These containers are designed to release carbon dioxide, a byproduct of the coffee’s natural aging process, while preventing the entry of oxygen and moisture from the outside environment. The valve ensures that the CO2 can escape without letting any air or humidity in, keeping the beans fresh for a longer time.
To preserve coffee, it must be kept away from air, humidity, heat and light, so be sure to store it in a cool, airtight container, away from direct sunlight. If the package it comes in has a gas valve and can be hermetically sealed you can leave it in its original packaging away from any source of heat, otherwise it is a good idea to put it in an opaque container as it is a great way to preserve coffee.
Whole Beans vs. Ground Coffee
Whole beans possess a distinct advantage over pre-ground coffee – they retain their freshness longer. When coffee beans are ground, they expose a larger surface area to oxygen, accelerating the degradation of flavors. Investing in a quality coffee grinder allows you to unlock the full potential of your beans by grinding them just before brewing.
The best advice we can give you to keep fresh beans or ground beans longer is to buy the right amount of coffee beans for the amount of coffee you brew regularly.
Bottom line, coffee freshness plays a crucial role in the overall flavor and aroma of the brew. By knowing the factors that affect coffee freshness and adopting proper storage and preparation practices, coffee aficionados can elevate their coffee experience to new heights. Whether investing in whole bean coffee, grinding it just before brewing, storing it in airtight containers or experimenting with different brewing methods, prioritizing freshness ensures that every cup of coffee is a delicious sensory journey. So, let’s embrace the quest for freshness and savor the rich flavors and enticing aromas that only freshly brewed coffee can offer. Cheers to a great cup every time!