Everybody knows things are better fresh. But why is coffee fresh off the roast any better than coffee that’s been sitting on the shelf for a few months at the gourmet grocery? Why is it all that important to look at the “Roast Date” on bags of coffee you buy at retail stores? What––scientifically––does “freshness” even mean in the coffee context?
Have you ever had coffee that tasted like blueberries, oranges, roses, or jasmine? These flavors are actually aromas being given off by the coffee’s natural oils. When these aromas enter your mouth via your coffee, they rise up into your nasal passage and your brain interprets them as rich flavors. And this is where things get crazy…
You can only taste these complex, exceptional flavors for 1-2 weeks after the coffee is roasted.
To find the peak flavor of freshly roasted coffee, one needs to balance two important factors:
- The loss of aromatics
- The build-up of carbon dioxide
For most coffees, this happens in a window of 4-14 days after roasting.