You've received your delicious coffee from Bermuda Coffee Roasters and can't wait to drink it... But on the label, it says it was roasted 6 days ago, but won't be ready until tomorrow.
The concept of 'fresh roasted coffee' is enough to give any coffee fan warm fuzzies. But "fresh" doesn't mean "just out of the oven" for roasters; generally, it means when a roaster feels their coffee tastes its best. For us, this is not as soon as the coffee comes out of the roaster! To better understand freshness and flavor, it's important to think about where coffee's flavors are formed.
The roasting process...
While much of a coffee's distinctive qualities are determined by where it's grown and how it's processed, the bulk of coffee flavor comes from roasting.
The immense heat of roasting breaks down sugars and amino acids into carbon dioxide. In the first few days, the build-up of CO2 can significantly affect brewing, making it much harder to get a tasty cup. The coffee has to rest and degas before it becomes easy to brew.
Why you wait...
The high levels of carbon dioxide and nitrogen-based gasses. These gasses will greatly contribute to retro-nasal activity as well as initial flavors (think carbonated water). The most apparent flavor people seem to get from this is metallic...
How long do you wait...
The first 24 hours of degassing is where the most CO2 will be released.
For coffee lovers seeking the most flavor, you should aim to balance the degassing of CO2 with the loss of important aromatics. For darker roasted coffees, this period usually starts after the first few days after roasting. For lighter roasted coffees, it's a good idea to wait a little longer before diving in; say 5-10 days.
It's still your choice - experiment!
Here at Bermuda Coffee Roasters, we stamp every bag with a roast date, plus the day it's ready to drink. While we taste our coffee at all stages, there is no substitute for the way YOU like to drink your coffee! As a general rule we say a week, but it will taste yummy from 2 days after roast, and just get better from there!
About expiry dates...
We don't have them.
There have been taste tests carried out on coffee all around the world from roasters who brewed straight out of the roaster, all the way up to 6 months after roast.
Your coffee is going to be in its peak over the first 3 weeks after roasting and from then, the oxygenising in the bean really starts to erode those beautiful aromatics which bring the sweet, bitter, sour all together in a harmoniously heavenly cup.
If you store your coffee in a dark, airtight location it could still be quite delicious after 6 months... it just won't have the same zing and pop that you were enjoying when it was a week old.