These are general guidelines to help you understand and predict how your coffee will act as it ages. Many factors can have an impact on your final cup, including the origin of the coffee, the density of the bean, its variety, its quality, its roast, the brewing method, etc.
Fresh coffee is whole bean coffee within 2 weeks of the roast date. It typically reaches peak flavor potential 48 hours after roasting, up to 1 month after roasting.
While freshness is a good indicator of your cup's potential profile, there are many other factors to consider to achieve the perfect taste experience and optimize your cup, from processing the coffee to roasting it and then to the brewing parameters.
How does freshness affect the different characteristics of your coffee?
First, CO2 is increased in the bean during the roasting process by breaking down sugars and amino acids, including the citric acids we taste in our cup. In the coffee brewing process, CO2 is a barrier to extraction and too much of it can result in an aromatic, but disappointing cup. Your coffee should have at least 48 hours of rest after roasting, which will ensure it has had time to degas and allow for an optimal extraction.
In addition, your coffee should ideally "bloom" during the pour over brewing or have a clearly visible crema during its espresso extraction. If not, you can expect a rather ordinary cup of coffee, more specifically, coffee that is not fresh. The “bloom” is a degassing stage in which the CO2 evaporates from the ground coffee. The crema, for its part, is composed of coffee oils and CO2, which will create its distinctive color.
As your coffee degasses and the CO2 barrier breaks down or decreases, the amount of acids you can extract from your coffee will increase. Typically, this amount of acids will peak around 2 weeks after the roast date. From this point, oxidation and decomposition will begin to reduce the amount of simple and complex acids present in the bean, and therefore the desired acidity in your cup.
Once your coffee has been degassed, you can extract the most complex compounds such as sugars in your cup. You will notice a significant increase in sweetness in your cup at least 48 hours after the roast date. The sweetness in your cup will peak once your acidity begins to break down. In other words, the best balance between acidity and sugars will generally be between 10 and 14 days after roasting.
Body, on the other hand, refers to the oils and insoluble materials that contribute to the texture of your cup of coffee. Think of words like full-bodied, intense, lengthy, etc. Oils and insolubles are less affected by the CO2 barrier and will be influenced more by your roast level and brew settings. As your coffee ages, the amount of oils and insoluble matter stays relatively constant, which won't have a big impact on the body of your cup.
Coffee is considered inherently bitter, but there is good and bad bitterness; it's all about balance. For example, there is a difference between the bitterness of the citrus taste in your cup and the burnt, ashy and carbony taste that we try to avoid. A poorly degassed coffee will lack sweetness and acidity, but will be more bitter. Allowing your coffee to lose CO2 will increase the acidity and perceived sugar in your cup and help balance the bitterness. Oxidized coffee, which is no longer fresh, will have a -bad- bitter or even acrid profile.
When to brew
Filter brews can be made 48 hours after roasting, but can be expected to be optimal between 6 and 14 days after roasting. Espresso extraction requires a longer resting period to obtain optimal and consistent results. As a fast brew method, it is more sensitive to the degassing process. You'll notice consistent, flavorful espresso brews 10-14 days after roasting.
How do I store my coffee?
The oils in the coffee beans oxidize quite quickly and contribute to some of the rancid, bland, bitter flavor of the coffee after 14-day post-roasting age. However, this process may happen faster or slower depending on your coffee storage habits. Essentially, the less your coffee is exposed to oxygen, heat, moisture, and light, the slower your coffee will oxidize.
Several myths surround coffee storage. You should know that the main goal is to reduce the rate of oxidation, so this means that you have to limit the environmental exposure of your coffee; be sure to keep your beans in an airtight container (we recommend a container with a vacuum mechanism) in a cool, dark place and keep them whole.
Your coffee freshness and quality deteriorates much faster once it is ground. The most subtle aromatic compounds in coffee are altered within minutes of grinding; therefore, grind only the amount needed for the number of cups you are going to brew immediately.