Hello everyone, I'm the director of quality control and espresso at Ritual Roasters. Bring me your questions and I will give you answers.
I'm sorry some of you have been less than satisfied previously with our coffee. Hopefully I can set the record straight.
The first question (which is the title of this thread) is about resting or aging. I can tell you that as we have taken our coffee substantially lighter over the past two years (love it or hate it, this is my doing), we have also noticed that we need to rest/age the coffee longer in order to get the quality of extraction our coffee seems to need to perform best. "Best" meaning the optimal balance between quality of sweetness and quality of acidity, aroma, and flavor. My simple explanation for why this happens, is that when you roast lighter with freshly harvested, dense, high grown coffees as we do, you maintain a much tighter and denser cellular structure in the roasted coffee. This essentially makes it more difficult for the CO2 gas to make its way out of the coffee. With dark roasts, you'll notice the much larger, generally more puffy look to the beans. You'll also notice that they weight far less, bean to bean. Those dark roasts with the very porous cellular structures make it quite east of the gas to escape, meaning that they achieve optimal off-gassing quite quickly.
Just two years ago, we were roasting quite dark in my opinion and the coffee was best just about one to five days off roast, and became pretty lifeless by day seven or eight (very disappointing if you're a shipping customer like Astro in detroit who doesn't get the coffee until day three or so). This was true for espresso and filter roasts. Now, the coffee's really start to hit their stride by day six or seven and are fantastic up through day 14 or even 21. Espresso is best about 8-11 days off roast. A more narrow window to be sure, but such is espresso.
Just keep in mind, if the coffee's too fresh (gassy), it wont extract properly. Where there is CO2 gas, there cannot also be water. Pretty straight-forward physics. Those of you who play with refractometers or tds meters might note that you can achieve the optimal extraction without actually extracting much of the desirable soluble material in the coffee. This can result in high acidity (acidity = good) coffees that should taste of fruit having a slightly under-ripe, possibly sour, or even worse, tomato-y flavor. Tomato is always bad.
The other thing that is very quite possibly a problem, is the red paper bags that much of the coffee goes out in... These, sadly, do not provide a very stable environment for the coffee at all. We've found the coffee in some bags to oxidize exceptionally fast, though many of our employees take their coffee home in these bags every week and have no problems whatsoever. We are expecting new sealable valve bags in the next couple months. We had been waiting for a compostable option to come on to the market, but its taking far too long for wide release and unfortunately we are encountering far too many problems with the paper to wait any longer. Those of you who get coffee from our wholesale accounts (like astro in detroit) notice that all of that coffee goes out in white, sealed, valve-bags. While they leave something to be desired aesthetically, they certainly preserve the coffee quite a bit better than the paper bags. Any of you ordering coffee on our website can feel free to request that your coffee be shipped in a valve bag and we will bag it for you that way at no extra charge.
Otherwise, extraction is frequently an issue. Lighter roasted coffee generally needs to be ground much finer as its less soluble. I recommend always sticking to 60-65 grams of coffee per 1000g of water and dialing your grind in to taste around that dose. Very detailed specs for pulling our espresso are always available on our website as well.