Like most foodstuffs, coffee is at its best when it is fresh. But of course a lot of us don’t know what this really means. We don’t understand the importance of the roast date versus the expiry date on the pack. Or when we get the coffee home, we don’t know the best way to store it. Well here are my Top 6 tips for buying, storing and drinking your coffee when it is at its best.
Two things ‘kill’ coffee of its aroma and flavour – oxygen and moisture. Keep your coffee away from these two elements and you will retain the freshness for longer. When you sniff the beans from the pack, they should smell fresh. Practise doing this and you will soon notice a less fresh product. It smells ‘musty’, slightly off. It still smells of coffee of course, but just not so fresh as it could be.
Check to see whether your coffee beans bag or packet has a roast date on it. This is the best indicator of freshness – how long since it left the roastery and is now in your hands? Ideally, look to buy your coffee no more than 4-5 months since roasting. But there are slightly different guidelines here depending on where you buy your coffee:
a.If you are buying from a local micro-roastery then you should expect the roasting to be not more than 2-3 weeks since roasting. Why? It is to do with packing. Small roasters don’t usually have the equipment to the extract the oxygen from the bag before packing the coffee. So the bag will have oxygen in it at the point of packing and will therefore deteriorate more quickly.
b.If you are buying big brands coffee from the supermarket, then the freshness will stay for longer as the pack will have the oxygen removed at the point of packing. But then of course, you don’t know when it was packed unless there is a roast date on it. Choose coffees with a roast date stamp!
All coffee packets should have an expiry date, it is a legal requirement. The industry standard is to apply a 1 year (12 month) ‘expiry from production’ date. This allows for the beans to be transported around the world from roastery to shelf and still retain an element of freshness. But don’t be fooled. A bag of coffee with only 6 months left on the pack sounds ok, but it means it will have been roasted 6 months ago! It will be ok to drink, it won’t harm you, but your taste buds are not enjoying the coffee at its best.
Choose coffees with a long time until expiry!
Try to buy coffee beans that have been roasted close to where you are. Not on the same street necessarily, but at least in the same country or region. Go for smaller brands – they produce in smaller batch sizes with more passion for what they do and more love for their beans. And check that roasting date!
Coffee demands you store it right when you get it home. I recommend reclosing the bag and then putting it in an airtight container or jar somewhere in your cupboard or kitchen, keeping it at an ambient or same temperature. But definitely not in the fridge. This is a myth which still exists. Airtight keeps out the oxygen. Good. But the fridge will in fact create moisture as you move the coffee from ambient to cool back to ambient back to cool. Not good.
Coffee is at its absolute freshest when you grind it, so don’t let it hang around – turn it straightaway into your favourite brew. Only unpack or grind your coffee when you are ready to drink it. If you are buying beans, only grind what you need at the time that you need it. If you are buying pre-ground coffee, we recommend: -Change to beans and buy yourself a small grinder! – you will notice a huge difference -Use it within 1 week if you can. Once exposed to oxygen the first time, the freshness will disappear really quickly
I hope this helps. Want any more tips or information about coffee, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Bean Team
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