We all know the smell of the coffee aisle at our favorite grocery store. The combined aroma of a hundred bags of coffee fills the air. Itâ€™s an incredible experience, but one that will not last as long as it should. Those bags are not filled with fresh coffee, and we pay a price we donâ€™t realize when we give in to the deception grocery store coffee aisle.
A Guatemalan coffee bean roasted last week can have incredibly crisp flavor. Acidity like an apple and a deep chocolate flavor are common among fresh beans. At some point though, these flavors begin to decay. The sweet acidity turns harsh, and those smooth chocolate notes become bitter and biting.
A Broken System
If you take a quick look at any bag of coffee at the grocery store you will likely find a â€œUse Byâ€ date that points you several months forward. This date is misleading.
Coffee is an agricultural product. It is grown in a cherry on tree in countries around the world, picked by skilled laborers (often by hand), processed at mills and farms, and roasted by the couple down the street.
Weâ€™re not dealing with a bottle of water that is required to have an expiration date by the government but doesnâ€™t really need one. Weâ€™re dealing with a delicate seed that has been passed down the line by hundreds of people before reaching your mug.
You wouldnâ€™t buy a head of lettuce that was claimed to be good three months from now. You wouldnâ€™t buy an apple that had been sitting on the shelf for months either.
Coffee beans, and the hands that passed them down to us, deserve to be honored by our buying habits. They deserve to shine in ways that are not possible when treated as a manufactured commodity.
Oxygen: Enemy #1
When roasted, coffee beans begin to release volatile gases, namely, carbon dioxide. The space left by these gases is then filled by oxygen. The substance we need to live and breath has its dark side. Oxidation is a process that results in apples browning and metals rusting. Itâ€™s not exactly something you want to happen to your coffee beans, but itâ€™s inevitable.
When oxidation has its way with coffee, aromatic oils evaporate, flavors break down and become dull, and the incredible sensory experience that the coffee bean wanted to give to its drinker is now lost.
We cannot counteract this force of nature, but we can take steps to slow it.
There are some basic rules we coffee lovers ought to follow to maximize our coffeeâ€™s life so that we can experience it at its best. A few minor adjustments will put us on track to having coffee that is tastier than ever before.
Buying Habits – Your Greatest Weapon
If you remember a single thing from this article, remember this: roasted coffee maintains peak freshness for about two weeks, then declines very quickly. If itâ€™s packaged well and stored carefully, the coffee will still be great after four weeks, but will decline even more quickly once exposed to oxygen.
Grocery stores are notorious for letting coffee sit on the shelves for weeks and months, and you would never know. The â€œUse Byâ€ date is a tricky little invention that, in the case of coffee, is used to give retailers some wiggle room with sale time.
We understand that selling coffee quickly for peak freshness can be a challenge for grocery stores balancing thousands of products, but we also arenâ€™t going to settle for stale coffee because those systems couldnâ€™t be improved. Fixing that problem is one of the major reasons Alice exists!
Instead, look for a â€œRoasted Onâ€ date, giving you precise knowledge of the date the coffee was roasted. This allows you to make informed decisions when buying your coffee.
Transparent roasters will offer this â€œRoasted Onâ€ date on their coffee bags. By buying from them, not only do you get to brew much fresher coffee, you work against a broken system that has been feeding off the misinformed consumer for decades.
Bottom Line: Buy freshly roasted coffee with â€œRoasted Onâ€ dates on the packages.
When youâ€™ve received your fresh coffee, keep it fresh by storing it in a cool location away from direct sunlight. Use a resealable bag or jar to minimize the contact with oxygen.
Bottom Line: Minimize bean contact with moisture, sunlight, and oxygen.
Grinding your coffee beans minutes before brewing is the final step. In fact, the coffee grinder is your most important piece of coffee equipment!
Once ground, those oils that make coffee delicious evaporate within thirty minutes to an hour, leaving your beans dry and disappointing.
Bottom Line: Grinding right before brewing is the final step to amazingly fresh coffee.
Where To Find Fresh Coffee
This all may seem overwhelming to you, but thereâ€™s no need to fear. Thanks to innovation through the internet, finding fresh coffee has never been easier.
Alice is a platform for connecting roasters devoted to freshness and quality to consumers who are ready to brew flavorful, delicious coffee. Our partner coffee roasters roast-to-order a variety of coffees and have them sent right to your door, skipping the mess of the grocery store shelf entirely.
Itâ€™s time to make the switch from shelf coffee to fresh coffee. Take our quick quiz to find your personal coffee profile so we can match you with the perfect coffees to satisfy your taste preferences.
Welcome to the fresh revolution.