I moved to South Africa from Brisbane just over a year ago, and we have a local coffee roaster who doesn't make a special thing of advertising when coffee is freshly roasted. One time the coffee I bought was still warm and for the next 3 days I made the best espresso ever (apologies to the pros here: I never tasted yours).
On a recent trip to Brisbane at one of the coffee shops on the University of Queensland campus, I asked how fresh their coffee is. "Very fresh. Never more than 2 weeks from roasting." I must have looked surprised because she told me in very authoritative terms that coffee should not be used for at least 10 days after roasting to give it time to "expel the air in it".
Where do these weird ideas come from? We're talking coffee beans here, not baked beans.
I know from reading this forum that fresh is good. I know from my own experience that fresh is good. Do some vendors make up this stuff so they don't have to roast every day and persuade themselves that they are doing their customers a favour?
I agree with flynnaus, I usually let my beans rest for a minimum of 5 days. However it has occurred where I have run out of beans and have had to roast and consume the coffee the next day. I find that over the 7 or so days it took to consunme the coffee it changed from day to day. It was very nice on the first day but it got better and deeper flavour as it 'aged'. I have had some coffees that are not very nice 1 - 3 days after roast but become very palatable on the 4, 5th days and continue to improve until they are gone.
However not everybodies tastes are the same and some probably like it as freshly roasted as they can get. That is the joy of coffee - everybody has a different preference.
My favorite beans are Ethiopian Harrar Longberry, Indian MM and PNG Wahgi and I don't even bother opening the bag till at least two weeks on the Harrar and MM and about 10 days for Wahgi. I generally prefer drinking 3 week old coffee that has been stored right than three days. But that's my taste on things.
I've been very interested in cafe culture for the past few years. I've spoken to many in the industry in regards to this subject and most have confirmed they like to use their coffee beans within 2 and maybe 3 weeks of purchase.
There was however, 1 cafe/barista which advised they actually age their roasted beans for a minimum of 3-4 weeks before it's served. According to him, coffee beans were like fine wine and should be aged for a short period (being 3-4 weeks) after roasting. The cafe was quite busy but I didn't find anything special about their coffee and thought the espresso I had was quite bitter, lacked body and crema, however this may have been due to other variables, who knows?
For my own palate, I found it was really dependant on the origin of the coffee bean.
For example, Kenyan beans didn't need much of a rest after roasting and were especially enjoyable within 2-3 days after roasting striking a perfect balance between acidity and body.
I found the Sumatran beans needed at least 4 days and were at their peak between 5 and 10 days. It had a bit of acidity but lacked body, flavour and sweetness if brewed under 4 days.
To me, it seems like the fruity flavours and acidity develop first after roasting and then start to develop more body and sweet chocolatey flavours before the more dark bitter flavours start to set in (instant coffee anyone?). I think it's just a matter of trying the beans daily until you find the correct balance for your own palate.
I'm very interested in this subject and would like to find out what everyone else thinks about this since I hope to start my own cafe in the future. For the past couple years I've tried numerous coffees in hopes it would help me understand more about this fabulous beverage since I want to one day serve the best coffee possible so everyone would like this magical beverage as much as me!
That's all very interesting. The super fresh beans I had the one time produced really good crema.
Which is more important: good crema with less than optimum taste or optimum taste with reduced crema?
So you ignored all the other posts that say they prefer to rest their beans before consumption?I know from reading this forum that fresh is good.
In your first post in this thread, you rubbished the idea that beans should be rested before consumption. You are entitled to think that fresh is good but allow that others have a different opinion and that's their taste.
This is a good discussion but there are lots of twists and turns and its too hard (long winded / time consuming) to go into this I feel, in detail in this type of situation. Much easier in a real life tutorial where you can discuss, people can ask questions, and you can demonstrate. And at the end of the day you are still subject to anyone's opinion about what constitutes freshness in coffee or simply, fresh coffee.
Re " The super fresh beans I had the one time produced really good crema. "
Yes but if you have your operational technique down pat and your equipment is in good nik and well adjusted to suit he particular beans you are using in any particular sitting, you should always get a crema even with beans that I wouldnt call fresh any more. (unless of course the beans are geriatric and I would say, you would then have to question why anyone would be using them). The amount of crema once settled at the end of the pour, the amount of crema forming while its pouring, are variables that will.....vary (obviously)...... with the age of the beans but nevertheless, you shouold still get some crema, of some kind.
"Super fresh" beans and from your posts above I take it to mean virtually straight off the roaster, will produce a lot of foamy crema (and sometimes not foamy), but the coffee isnt developed enough and you are then trading a big foamy brown crema, for a woody under developed product that often lacks body and acidity and all the things that go into making a well rounded cuppa for you. Coffee that fresh is interesting, but its not developed, it has a kind of nice shall we say biscuity "baked" characteristic.
So what is "freshness"? Is it coffee that hasnt develpoed yet but it makes a great crema (that also dissipates quickly), or is it coffee that has been allowed to "settle" for a period and develop its full potential, before it starts to go down hill.
There is a progression from roasting, of development (say "uphill"), then a plateau where the coffee is relatively stable for a short period, staling (say "downhill"), and then another long plateau where the coffee is well past any usefulness (but some like and use it).
After that, its anyones opinion as to what they like. If you want coffee straight off the roaster, ask for it. If you want coffee that is developed / settled and technically...ready for sale, then that is what you will usually get direct from specialist roasteies that properly adjust their business according to demand, and rotate the stock to sell before it goes down.
You could make this topic a lot bigger, but I already covered on that at the start of this.
And that of course, says nothing about other aspects of total quality in the other variables of origin, grade, season, roasts, beans and blends, aside from freshness, that make up the total package of good coffee.
Hope that helps.
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ps wrt your first post above. Its not necessary for cafe staff to know much about coffee, it would simply be great if they knew how to make great coffee with the product and equipment their business owner supplies for them to use during the course of the day. And while the young lady (?) got some details a little confused, the general drift of her reply was correct and in fact I would say she actually knows more than most regular cafe staff.
i'm currently drinking a super ripe blend from my regular roaster, delivered with his apologies at 2 days post-roast. on paper, it should be awesome. in reality, there's no complexity, no body, no acidity (relatively speaking). even with masses of crema the mouthfeel is disappointing. given a few days i'm sure it will be great.
there's no hard and fast rules here (as always, the individual's palate rules these things) but for me i am wary of any beans less than 4-5 days or greater than 3 weeks post roast.
Hostility? You are applying this tone to my post. Your original post was a bit arrogant. Let me remind you:
Where do these weird ideas come from?You expressed the opinion that only super-fresh is acceptable and those who think otherwise are crazy. I don't like super fresh coffee and resting the coffee for at least a few days is MY preferenceDo some vendors make up this stuff so they don't have to roast every day and persuade themselves that they are doing their customers a favour?
Interesting discussion ;-)
One thing I will throw in here is that at the Aus Barista Championships this year, there was one barista who, for his entry, used two grinders, two different beans. Well, sort of.
The coffee he used for his espresso and the one used for his milk based drink were in fact the exact same bean blend, just that one had been roasted a day earlier than the other, as he claimed this allowed the character of the beans to be at their optimal age for espresso, and milk based respectively.
There's a lot to this subject. I've enjoyed fresh roasted (still a tad warm), and I've enjoyed weeks old. I haven't thrown beans away because they're past their best, they are still fresh enough to be enjoyed.
I will typically have between 4 & 6 different beans roasted at any one time, and try single origins as well as a bit of blending - handful of this, 2 handfuls of that etc.
Roast batches of 500g green. Never blend before roasting as each bean roasts differently.
Good fun, isn't it!!
I had a coffee at the local Uni recently with a friend who works there. He steered us to the Refectory cafe rather than one of the fancy coffee shops because he said the coffee was better. The very pleasant young lady barista had never heard of a Piccolo Latte and had no small glasses/cups but we eventually found me a lonely 160ml cup from under the counter (apparantly at Uni everyone drinks their coffee in take-away buckets) I explained "just half fill it with milk" but still got it almost full (old habits die hard) but to my surprise it was very good and with half the milk would have been excellent. It turned out they were using a superior commercial bean and that the bean was fresh (within a couple of weeks of roast date). The barista was no mug (simply had never had a call for a Piccolo before)
Made me realise how many variables there are for what most people think of as a very simple thing - a coffee.
Best advice I have heard on the forum, is that if you like the taste, you have made it well...
Depends on the bean, most beans I have tried for espresso peak somewhere between 7-14 days.
This can get complicated though as they age faster after the bag has had an initial opening. So if you first opened a bag at 5 days and use them every day after that they will be stale by day 10. On the other hand if the bag had not been opened untill day 14, they may have still been good.
Also, brewed/non espresso coffee can be drunk much fresher, within a few days of roasting is great.
At a (good) cafe at the weekend, the "machine operator" insisted the "double ristretto" requested, was simply a regular Espresso...!!
..and he argued the point .." because i have been making coffee for 6 years !"
I was once told to that there are two kinds of experience--20 years' experience, and 1 year's 20 times.
It is easy to get the idea that some "facts" are just being made up (especially in the coffee business in South Africa) - because so much of what you hear about coffee is being made up - and always from people most impressed with their own knowledge and experience. The term fresh seems to be relative. I would have to agree though that 3 days seems to be the minimum - with a peak somewhere in the second week - if it lasts that long.
@philipmach - What intrigues me more is whether you made a typo - or had a moment of insanity? Caffeine deprivation maybe? Have you really moved to South Africa from Brisbane? Where? Why? Not for the coffee, I suspect.