Imagine baking some cookies for a friend. Fresh out of the oven they are delicious, full of flavor and vibrance. You bag them up and deliver them in all their glory to be devoured within a few days. Now imagine you bake cookies for your friend, bag them up and then forget about them on the counter for 1, 2 maybe 3 months. You remember the bag again, hurray cookies! You bite into one, they are so delicious! Soft and full of flavor, you’re kind of glad you never gave these to your friend...okay let's be real. Those cookies are bricks, and the only flavor they have is a slight sawdust one. So if you would never even think about eating three month old cookies left on the counter, why do we not only think, but actually relish in coffee that has been sitting on grocery store shelves for months, maybe even years?
Coffee is a food, one that hasn’t been and hopefully will never be filled with preservatives to extend its shelf life. With that said, from the day coffee is roasted it has a 2 week window to be enjoyed before going bad. That’s right, 2 weeks. To make the situation even more bleak, most coffee on the grocery store shelves has been there for several months. Yes, we’re looking at you big green mermaid. Next time you are at the store take a look for yourself. The first clue you should be looking for is a “Enjoy by” date. This is a clear sign from the roaster that they are trying to mislead you to buy old, stale coffee. Instead, bags should always contain a “Roasted On” label. Indicating the exact date it was roasted, so you as a consumer can make a judgment call about whether it is old or not.
Let’s discuss how exactly you have been mislead, probably your entire life about coffee’s lifespan, and the science behind it. As it is not technically “bad” to drink coffee that has been on the shelf for months, companies keep selling it because well, people keep buying it. Logistically it saves the roaster, and the grocery store any loss by not really having to stick to any expiration date and throw coffee away. Instead, coffee should be roasted to order if you want to ensure peak freshness from the time you open the bag to the time you are done. Most roasters (like us) roast your coffee to order, which means we don’t roast it until you order it!
So how does coffee go bad you ask? Well coffee as we said before is a food. It starts out as an unroasted seed that is harvested from a coffee cherry. During the roasting process moisture is drawn out of the bean, sugars are caramelizing, and carbohydrates are being broken down until you progress from the green unroasted bean, to the brown coffee you love. This process causes the bean to build up a lot of internal gas in the form of carbon dioxide. This gas build up is vital to the brewing process, as well as being an indicator of freshness. From the moment the coffee is roasted, oxygen begins to go to work breaking down the coffee and causing it to go stale. At the same time carbon dioxide begins leaving the bean. To fight this one-two punch, most roasters use bags that are fitted with a degassing valve. Usually located at the top of the bag, these tiny holes allow carbon dioxide to escape the bag, while not allowing oxygen in.
By this point you are probably thinking you want to buy and brew coffee as soon as you can get from when it was roasted. While technically that is true it does come with one caveat. You need to allow the coffee to “off gas”, that is allowing some of the carbon dioxide to leave the coffee. Brewing coffee that is too freshly roasted will cause the coffee to bubble over like a coffee volcano. Allowing your coffee to rest for a few days after the roast day will deliver optimum brewing conditions.
If you are still skeptical, we would love to prove it to you. Simply fill out the form below and we will send you a free sample of our freshly roasted coffee that will make you wonder why you didn't switch years ago. End up loving the coffee? I knew you would. The profits from every bag of coffee we sell goes to charity. Now you can go to bed knowing you are making a difference in the world, and wake up to amazing coffee. Woah. That's what we like to call a win-win.