I don't understand this coffee freshness craze - Page 2

Discuss flavors, brew temperatures, blending, and cupping notes.
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Marshall

#11: Post by Marshall »

Mayhem wrote:While freshness obviously is important, I am having a hard time understanding the extreme freshness craze of these forums.
That "craze" has actually moderated quite a bit as American hobbyists have had more exposure to high-quality, artisan-roasted beans. Ten years ago, when such coffees were not so widely available, the mantra on alt.coffee was that you had to home roast, because coffee was stale after three days.
Marshall
Los Angeles

Ken Fox

#12: Post by Ken Fox »

It really depends on what you are drinking.

Blends are complicated because there are only two reasons to create them, either that the coffees taste better assembled than they do separately, or that you can create something drinkable or more drinkable out of otherwise ordinary coffees by combining them. The latter sort of blend is usually cost-driven, and the former tends to be "artisan-driven." How long to age these before consuming them will depend on the degree of roast (may be more than one if the coffee is post-blended) and the dose to be used. This having been said, even blends will seldom be of interest after they are 20 days old, tops 30. Even Illy's vaunted method of gas preservation results in a coffee that might be ok when you open the packaging but which then deteriorates with a couple of days thereafter.

I am not partial to blends and seldom drink them, so the above is more a synthesis of thoughts I have read here from others I respect, than it is my opinion.

What I do know something about, personally, is single origins. Very few single origins "work" for espresso unless they have exceptional balance and particular qualities that when magnified do not produce an oafish espresso. These are few and far between. In order to appreciate such a single origin for espresso, it must be fairly lightly roasted or the distinguishing characteristics will be masked with roast flavors. There are odd single origins that have funky flavors (like Yemens, for example) that can be nearly undrinkable shortly after roasting but that can become pleasant after some of the offensive components air off, typically after a week or so.

Most other single origins that work WELL for espresso will peak after a fairly short period of time and then will deteriorate rather rapidly, usually by day 10 at the latest. The exceptions will generally be "process-based," by this meaning the process of making espresso. If one doses single origins in the high range, like 18g or above, this more or less duplicates the process used to make espresso from most of the "artisianal/marquee" blends. In this case, the espresso can be so "intense" that it needs to be aged considerably longer in order to be drinkable.

All of the above assumes room air temperature storage of roasted coffee in either a container of some sort or a valve bag (makes little difference in my experience). Freezing right after roasting will change everything, and using gases in the packaging may extend the aging period, although I have no personal proof of that (other than experience with Illy, which is neither a "marquee blend" nor a single origin).

ken
What, me worry?

Alfred E. Neuman, 1955

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doubleOsoul

#13: Post by doubleOsoul »

I don't think the freshness factor really jived with me until I went to nekked portafilters. If my roast is done freshness-wise, I get a big yellow soupy shot. I only do microlot roasts for espresso shots and like someone else said on here, those nuances are less pronounced after the freshness window has passed. Back when I still roasted blends, I found they lasted longer.

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Whale

#14: Post by Whale »

aecletec wrote:I think you may be on the wrong forum. I haven't seen any 'truths' like that swung about with any frequency here. On others, however..
In support to Mayhem statement, although because it is written does not make it a truth, I have read numerous time such statements on this very forum. The "rule of 15" theory, being one of them.

Indeed all coffee will change flavour/aroma/... as they age. As all taste preferences are in nature, also is the best time to enjoy any coffee.
LMWDP #330

Be thankful for the small mercies in life.

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another_jim
Team HB

#15: Post by another_jim »

Mayhem wrote: I am having a hard time understanding the extreme freshness craze of these forums.
Roast an Yrgacheffe or Kirinyaga light, brew it through a paper filter, and decant it into a red wine glass. Enjoy the aromas until it gets down to around 45C to 50C, then drink it. If you think the experience is better after two weeks than after two days; what you like about coffee does not coincide with the tastes and aromas the growers and roasters are trying to achieve.

The price at auction of the world's best coffees is determined by how they taste a day or two after roasting. In this year's Best of Panama, the unheard of happened, Esmeralda came in second in the jury tasting. The first place Finca Valentina is likely to go at over $50 per pound next Tuesday. Do you really think two weeks wait will improve its aromas of "fresh tropical fruits, blueberry and ginger?"
Jim Schulman

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Mayhem (original poster)

#16: Post by Mayhem (original poster) replying to another_jim »

I fail to see how your examples apply to my original point. I am sure there are many fine coffees out there which is optimally consumed two days post roast, within 24 hours or even straight out of the drum. Nowhere have I made a claim which says otherwise.

My issue is only with the oft repeated mantra that any and every coffee somehow spontaneously goes undrinkable N (pick your number) days post roast. Nothing more, nothing less.
Too much is not enough

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another_jim
Team HB

#17: Post by another_jim »

That's a bit of bait and switch. Nobody has ever made such a claim.

The claim has always been that high grown, aromatic coffees are best fresh. Many coffees and blends that contain aged coffees, coffees with aggressive and unbalanced aromatics are better after resting.

The surprise of your post is that Scandinavia is known for its preference for clean, high grown coffees -- precisely the sort most of us would insist are best fresh. So instead of talking about myths, it may be more useful to post on what sort of coffees require two weeks or more rest. I can see this being true for an aged Java or a Robusta, which could be undrinkable earlier, and good later. But I cannot see it being true for, say, a high end Panamanian coffee. I would be very skeptical indeed about any claim that such coffees profit from long rests.
Jim Schulman

Ken Fox

#18: Post by Ken Fox »

Mayhem wrote:My issue is only with the oft repeated mantra that any and every coffee somehow spontaneously goes undrinkable N (pick your number) days post roast. Nothing more, nothing less.
Coffee is a food item. While there are a few food items that benefit from aging, there aren't many and even among those that do age well, most will only do so under certain conditions that are conducive to being aged well. Usually these conditions include "optimal" temperature and humidity.

If one takes wine as an example, most wines for sale in the world will not benefit from aging, and among that small percentage that will, the conditions need to be right, with cellar-like temperatures and ample humidity.

Another example might be cheese. Once again, most cheeses are made for immediate consumption and those that will benefit from aging need to be aged under the right conditions, which aren't all that much different from those given above for wine.

Some meat benefits from aging, at least for a short while. Again, it must be done right, or one gets spoiled meat and or potentially dangerous bacterial contamination.

Where does coffee fit into this scheme? For the most part, it benefits less from aging than wine, cheese, or meat, and in many cases benefits not at all and in fact simply deteriorates over time. So then, the question becomes, if it doesn't (in most cases) benefit from aging, then what exactly transpires over time that is beneficial? Precious little in my view. The most that can be hoped for in most cases is that more deleterious components will air off than will good components. That's it. Basically, end statement.

So what supports the idea that holding onto coffee for any period of time will render it more acceptable, e.g. better, than it was before? I would submit there is virtually no evidence to support that view.

ken
What, me worry?

Alfred E. Neuman, 1955

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another_jim
Team HB

#19: Post by another_jim »

The resting of roasted and baked goods to strengthen their flavor is a counterexample that may be relevant to coffee. Lousy bread is best hot out of the oven, when all bread tastes pretty much like nothing at all; but a good sourdough needs to cool and meld, at least an hour, maybe two or three even, for the flavors to pop. Large roasts need to be rested so that the juices distribute. In other words, there are several roasted or baked foods whose flavors strengthen with some resting.

The outgassing of coffee is somewhat equivalent. Straight out of the roaster most coffees will taste flat. But this sort of post-roast improvement is very short term. I know of no case where flavors get stronger (as opposed to mellowing) over a period of weeks, rather than hours or days.
Jim Schulman

ethiopie

#20: Post by ethiopie »

Ken Fox wrote:So what supports the idea that holding onto coffee for any period of time will render it more acceptable, e.g. better, than it was before? I would submit there is virtually no evidence to support that view.

ken
How about Robusta? There was a thread started by another_jim about Robusta. Didn't he suggest that Robustas can get better with time?
Ken Fox wrote:Blends are complicated because there are only two reasons to create them, either that the coffees taste better assembled than they do separately, or that you can create something drinkable or more drinkable out of otherwise ordinary coffees by combining them.
Am I the only one to find this a bit judgemental? Somebody else wrote (I'm quoting out of context a bit here) "Subpar quality beans benefit from a long rest. The defect taste is reduced as the coffee ages."

When I'm writing 'judgemental', I'm not writing about the fact that for someone a certain bean is "subpar". That's a matter of taste.

Coffee is a heavily processed product. It's harvested, stored, roasted in many different ways, aged 5 days (and not 10), you grind it to a certain particle size (but not to another), you push (exactly!) 89 °C water through it at a certain pressure (but not another!), you take a 19 g dose (and certainly not 14 g!), etc, etc.

In certain circumstances this is described as "getting the best out of the bean". However, in other circumstances this processing is called "masking defects" - when a bean gets better if it's a bit "stale".

I don't read all the threads, but I've never seen a thread that screams "defect" when a premium SO actually tastes flat when you take a 15 g dose and 91 °C water.

Aren't we always "masking defects" when we are processing coffee? And what's wrong with masking defects? Before it's Champagne, it's actually a quite horrible wine. Making Champagne out of it is certainly masking a defect. So what?