Want the best flavour out of your coffee? Start with freshness.

Like fruit, roasted coffee is a perishable product that changes over time. It can be too fresh or not fresh enough, kind of like fruit can be not ripe, gone bad, or just right.

Let’s think of a delicious peach:

  • Not ripe – hard and lacking flavour.
  • Gone bad – mushy and tainted.
  • Or perfect – firm and with all the flavours of summer.

Coffee is just the same – the freshness of the coffee will have a big impact on the taste of your brew.  At its peak, you’ll get all the flavours and aromas we roasters work so hard to create.

Coffee that is too fresh will have the strong coffee aroma that we all like when we open a fresh bag of beans, but the taste won’t be at its best and it may be hard to use. This is all because the freshly roasted coffee is still in the process of releasing its natural gases, and it needs time to settle. Coffee that is too fresh can:

  • Taste too sharp or bitter.
  • Lack smoothness and sweetness.
  • Be harder to use when making espresso. It could have a bubbly or thick crema, pour too quickly, or pour inconsistently.

Coffee that is too old, or ‘stale’, can also cause some problems. While roasting the coffee is what makes it release the aromas and flavours inside, it’s also what makes it begin to age. That delicious aroma that we can smell is, in fact, leaving the coffee bean. Coffee that is stale can:

  • Lose the intensity of the coffee aromas and flavours.
  • Taste more dull or bland.
  • Be harder to use when making espresso e.g. pour too quickly or pour inconsistently.

Fortunately, we don’t send out coffee that is too fresh, so all you need to worry about is not letting it get stale. How? Protect it from the elements: oxygen, light, heat. Let’s go back to the peach. For the best tasting peach, you would store it in the fruit bowl out of direct sun light and heat, and then cut it open just before you eat it. You wouldn’t cut it up in advance and leave it in the sun or it would go all brown and funny.

Back to coffee and how to protect it from the elements:

  • Buy coffee that’s roasted in Aotearoa. Imported coffee usually takes months to get here.
  • If you can, buy whole bean coffee and grind fresh each time you brew.
  • Once you have opened the bag, use the coffee within a few weeks.
  • Store in an airtight container.
  • Put in a cool, dry, and dark place.

Finally, stale coffee is not unsafe – or undrinkable. Much like a peach, it’s just past its best.