How freshly roasted you really need your coffee to be?

So… Yeah, you got it right. I am about to question the concept of freshness of the specialty coffee beans.

The subject actually will be simple, and at the same time quite disturbing, for some.

freshly roasted coffee beans

How many weeks after roasting need to pass for the coffee to taste sweet and at its best?

Yes, exactly.

Weeks. After. The. Roast. Date.

Not days, or hours, but weeks.

I  belong basically to the first generation of the specialty coffee baristas that appeared in Russia in 2000th, and it was exactly the time when everybody was talking about freshness.

Freshly roasted, freshly brewed.

I will not lie if I say that sometimes people insisted in using the coffee during the first week after being rosted. 14 days after the roast date was already considered too much, 3 weeks – unacceptable. 4 weeks – something that is worthy to be called a fraud, and you feel like hitting the roast master for daring to even offer you a possibility about buying this coffee.

Then belief changed, and we started to practice the period of 1-3 days of rest for the coffees that were roasted for espresso. To let them to “degas”.

Luckily for us, specialty coffee is evolving and making huge steps forward, and freshness purists are slowly becoming something outdated, like Schomer’s Barista Bible. It is a good thing, it means we are moving forward.

I wanted to take some time and talk about freshness, basing on something that I am experiencing for the last 6 months.

I noticed that coffees that I am getting from the Nordic, Dutch, German and American top roasters is simply tasting much better when you brew it at 4 weeks after the roast date. And I am talking about filter here.

Specialty Coffee world is beautiful, it gives you so many information to think about and so many concepts to test and try – and it is impressive to discover that our opinion about freshness is something we should be reconsidering now.

For me it all started with one famous coffee roaster from Aarhus, Denmark.

To make a long story short, I simply hated their coffees until I tried them with 4 weeks after the roast date. Until that it was impossible to brew it, it tasted underdeveloped and almost raw, never had enough body nor sweetness, and I basically was crying every time I was about to make a V60. Crying out of despair.

You know some coffees are easy to brew, no matter what you do with them it will turn out beautiful?

So, my experience from those coffees was far from being that.

The taste was always not enough, leaving much to be desired.

Until I waited long enough.

And the coffee opened up and gifted me with all the sweetness and taste it had been hiding until that moment.

And then it happened with one super famous roaster from Norway. And one more legend from Berlin.

And as I finished yesterday a bag of beautiful Kenya, I felt that I am ready to be writing about it here.

Times changed.

Coffee, well roasted, and properly stored, can be enjoyed and purchased with the 4 weeks after the roast date – and you’ll be getting it at its best, at its peak, far from tasting old.

Of course, as I can see and taste, not every roaster roasts this way. So it actually depends on the roast style and the packaging. As a roaster myself I see an enourmous vantage in slowing down the aging this way, by delveloping the roast in a special manner, for a customer to enjoy your coffee longer and for your product to have longer shelf life.

It is really something exciting for me, because it shows us that we have lots to learn still in terms of roasting coffee. We have just started to discover all the opportunities. And manipulating the roast profile this way, slowing down the aging, or better saying, postponing the aging of coffee, is one of the most exciting skills that I feel curious to master.

What I love about this whole story is the fact that one more time we, as coffee professionals, are challenged to think, to taste and not to simply stick to our beliefs. Coffee industry is growing so fast it is dangerous to stop learning and challenging yourself.

Loving every piece of it.

Published by liza maksimova

Q Grader. Roast Master. SCAE certified.

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