How long after roasting is coffee at its best? - Page 2

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Ken Fox

#11: Post by Ken Fox »

There are issues being conflated in this thread.

If one wants to be very picky, and one gets to know one's coffees, there is usually a relatively short window, maybe 2 days, when the coffee is at its absolute best, at least according to any given individual's taste (e.g. my "best" days might be days 3-5 and yours might be 5-7, for the same coffee, but if we are used to drinking this coffee and are experienced espresso drinkers, we would probably be fairly consistent within the confines of our own taste). The above discussion assumes either a single origin kept in steady state (either used up while still fresh or frozen as green), or a blend that hasn't changed (unlikely after a few months), and that is roasted, stored, ground, and extracted consistently.

OK, so that is one part of the equation, but another part is going to be determined by the practical aspects. These are things like how much coffee does one buy at a time, how is it stored, etc. etc. etc., which will be effected by such things as whether one home roasts, and if not, shipping distances, transit times, cost of shipping, etc. So one is looking for some sort of balance, including a cost-benefit analysis, since most people who do not home roast do not want to buy small quantities of fresh coffee and have it shipped at great expensive every few days.

I proposed a strategy some time back to maximize the amount of coffee at peak that one consumes. It is found in this thread and it is basically what I do personally:

Better Espresso thru Freezing

What, me worry?

Alfred E. Neuman, 1955

da gino

#12: Post by da gino »

Hi Appa, for me frozen coffee (that was frozen within 48 hours of roasting) does not seem as good 7 days after coming out of the freezer as it does one day after coming out. I think it drops off faster after being frozen than it does when it is fresh (but I haven't tested it or paid super close attention because I freeze in small enough jars that it isn't an issue).

Ken I agree that the true peak is around 2-3 days long, but I think great coffee can be close to that peak for about a week and remains well worth drinking. I always took "better coffee through freezing" to mean that you avoid the drop off - improving the average cup you get out of a bag, by freezing small enough quantities that it is always at its peak, but my comment above was wondering if not only the average shot could go up through freezing, but in fact the best shot could, too. In other words your post linked suggests you can have coffee in its peak more often/almost always by freezing small quantities (which I agree with and tend to do) and taking them out as you need them, but is it possible that the peak is actually higher?

Ken Fox

#13: Post by Ken Fox replying to da gino »

Others have commented in various threads that they believe that previously frozen coffee has a shorter "shelf life" than coffee that is fresh, never frozen. This is not my own observation, however, like you, I don't freeze coffee in large containers, so I am able to consume my previously frozen coffee within 3-4 days at the most. The largest Mason jar I use for freezing will hold roughly 280g of coffee in it, and I often use ones that hold about 150g. Even though I do not degass coffee before I freeze it, my own observation with my own home roast is that I seldom have to degass it after defrosting for more than a day, before I can use it. Perhaps this shows that freezing and subsequent defrosting changes the coffee in some subtle way that makes it more "accessible" than it was before being frozen.

I haven't noticed, personally, that the peaks I get from previously frozen coffee are shorter or less intense than what I observe with the same coffees that were fresh roasted and never frozen. I should add that I do mostly use single origins for espresso, some of which are quite fruity and delicate. Some of the blends out there, especially ones that require fairly large doses, seem to me to have a more stable taste profile that lasts a little bit longer at its peak, than say, a good DP single origin Ethiopian. I don't much care for the flavor profiles of those big blends, but for those who do, they may find they get a longer period of time at peak than the 2-3 days I write about with my SOs.

What, me worry?

Alfred E. Neuman, 1955

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#14: Post by Benjammer »

It depends on the coffee and you're taste, as I think other people have mentioned.
Some roasters will tell you how long to let their coffee's rest. I got one recently where they said it needed 8 days after roast date to rest, I was curious to try it, and knew it would probably get 'old' and stale anyway if I didn't drink it early, so I decided to try it after 4 days (and 5, 6, etc) it was actually really good early. I think the fruity/nutty flavours came out more than it did on the 8th or 9th day.

I'd say experiment and see what works best for you and your type of coffee beans.

m shehata

#15: Post by m shehata »

That depends how and where you keep your coffee remember heat and humidity and light and air has a bad side effect on the coffee

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#16: Post by Benjammer »

I started home roasting and I found most coffees are quite nice after just a one day rest.
Sumatra (and possibly other soft or lower grown beans) seem to need a bit more time, so 2 days. I found it was super fruity the first day and then died down and was a bit more balanced and complex afterwards.

Supporter ★

#17: Post by mitch236 replying to Benjammer »

That's exactly my findings as well. There's something special about the fruitiness with ultra fresh beans that outweigh, at least for me, the lack of balance. It's sort of a love/dislike thing. I love the fruitiness but dislike the sourness. As the beans rest, they lose some brightness but gain balance. That's what makes fresh beans so interesting, following the journey where every day brings a new flavor profile!


#18: Post by trickydicky »

I have no idea at what age roast coffee tastes best. In fact the question may be meaningless:

- With the exception of newborns (who like sugar and fat, but hate bitterness) all other preferences are learned
- Therefore any idea of 'best' is a) personal and b) true only at one moment in time-
- It is common to have preferences borne of habit and narrowness of experience. Who hasn't travelled to another place and thought the coffee/ketchup/beer/chocolate tastes bad and find themselves amazed the locals love it?
- Perhaps this is why some prefer instant to ground coffee their whole lives. And why some prefer 6 month old ground to 6 day old
- I believe it is also possible for groups of people with broad experience to find themselves gravitating as a sub-set of the total population towards a particular band in the spectrum of quality. This could be due the acquired taste for certain attributes found off-putting by the general population's preference for a blander experience. It could also be due to the intellectualisation of the product where people like the idea of the thing more than the thing itself. A bit like, say, freeform jazz or arthouse movies. Social issues can also maybe creep in, e.g. I like this taste because someone more influential than me likes it, or I like this taste because the less knowledgeable plebs dislike it
- Certainly over time tastes change too. I used to hate coffee as a kid. Learned to like instant, grew to prefer plunger, then discovered espresso and found myself nauseated by instant once again. I'm certain my preferences will evolve further
- Situational factors may also play a role - You try the thing in a nice/nasty place, or are in a good/bad mood, or your senses are dulled or heightened, etc.
- There is often a narrow-ish set of industry-expert preferences (or, rather, "standards") for many products that will be sub-divided by product class, whether these are for coffee origins, breeds of dog or types of cheese. These are usually slower-changing than the development of individual tastes. These standards can be highly sub-class dependent, so in the case of coffee could, I guess, vary a lot between coffee types and prep methods
- Cynically, the answer may also depend on vested interests. Big companies supplying globally will tell you coffee is better older and ages well. The small, local guy would be commercially smart to say the opposite (whether it was true or not). I do not have the experience to comment on this, other than that I'm trying a lot more fresh roast coffees these days and finding I often prefer them, except where they're so fresh that the espresso I make is too fizzy and frothy

So what is "best" is what you like right now, but don't be surprised if your neighbour hates it, and if you both change your mind tomorrow. I try to try new things, be open-minded, decide for myself as much as I can