Certain specialty coffee packages show the roasted-on date. While the date tells you some things it doesn’t tell you other things. Huh? Read on.
There is a chemical process that occurs when coffee beans are roasted - they begin to release carbon dioxide, a process known as degassing. This release of gas continues for several days, sometimes even up to two weeks. (One reason why coffee bags have that one-way valve.)
When you pick out a new bag of coffee, note the date to determine freshness – industry consensus fall in the range of consuming coffee 7 to 21 days after its roast date. Note, not immediately. From days zero to 7ish, coffees are still going through a degassing phase and until the beans have time to equalize, they will not offer the correct flavor profile when brewed. During this period, coffee can taste overly bright and acidic. While some people prefer this flavor profile, most coffee drinkers enjoy a more balanced and mellow cup.
When you receive a bag of coffee beans, they will be housed in a sealed bag to keep the beans fresh for the longest amount of time possible. Once you open the coffee bag up, your beans are exposed to the air which contains humidity, contaminants, and other unavoidable atmospheric substances, which will degrade your coffee beans but it doesn’t mean the coffee is ‘bad’ or undrinkable, all depends on your individual taste bud.
The best ways to make your coffee last is to use an air-tight container for storage. Air-tight packaging will preserve whole coffee beans for 6 to 9 months and ground coffee for 5 months. It should be noted that dark roasted beans degrade faster.
If not using an air-tight container, be sure to drink it within two to three weeks, don’t save it!
If you bought the specialty coffee for a gift to be given later or for future special occasion, store the unopened bag into the freezer, it’ll be good for up to a year.
Coffee is not just a beverage; it's a journey through time, flavor, and culture. The roast date is the passport to experiencing coffee at its finest. It determines when coffee reaches its flavor peak, and it guides you on how to preserve that freshness.
As a complement to roast-on date, read our blog on different types and roasts.