Stale vs. Fresh Coffee

In recent times the shift in focus of quality in the cup has been fantastic- more and more people are wanting to brew better with higher quality coffees.

But the usual supermarket standards means that a lot of coffee on the shelves is already past its best, so to get a greater quality we have to go in search of freshly roasted coffee from small batch coffee roasters that roast to order. This means that when you order the coffee, the coffee will be roasted no more than a couple of days before it is sent out for delivery. This ensures you get the freshest coffee possible.

Can coffee be too fresh?

Well, sort of. When we roast coffee, we are applying heat to the hard and dense green beans to try and develop flavour and also open the bean structure to make that flavour easier to get at. This process creates a lot of carbon dioxide, which is extremely abundant in the freshly roasted beans. This is what causes the bubbles when you brew a coffee – no bubbles = stale! The carbon dioxide dissipates with time.

Aromatics are at their highest levels in freshly roasted coffee too- they are the compounds that create the amazing aroma of fresh coffee and contribute a lot to flavour. Aromatics are great! But just like carbon dioxide, they dissipate with time.

The problem occurs when we brew coffee that is been roasted very recently- let’s say under a week after roasting. At this point those tasty aromatics are in high levels- but the large volume of carbon dioxide blocks the brewing water from extracting them.

Achieving peak taste

Through lots of coffee brewing we have found that most coffees peak around 10 days post roast – this is likely the point where we maximise the extraction of aromatics, as the level of carbon dioxide drops but the level of aromatics is still quite high.

There are a few tricks to help super fresh coffee to extract better- longer brew times, finer grinding, resting the grounds before brewing, longer pre-infusions – but I don’t think anything works quite as well as a good rest.

Happy brewing.