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Fresh Coffee and Peak Flavour

May 18, 2021 1 Comment

How long after roasting will fresh coffee taste best?

The main advantage of buying Spiller & Tait coffee through our own website is that we roast each week for these orders, ensuring you receive coffee that is as fresh as possible. It's well known that if you want the best tasting cup of coffee, you have to use fresh, quality beans.

However, what’s less well known, is just how long after roasting is the best time to brew for the absolute best flavour, know as 'peak flavour’. And, how long that peak flavour will last. Search the internet and you’ll find a wide range of perspectives on when a roasted coffee achieves peak flavour. In this blog, we share the benefit of our experience on this key question.

Why does coffee lose flavour over time?

Fresh coffee has three components – green beans, roasting and grinding (see our Fresh Coffee Page). While much of a coffee's distinctive flavour qualities are determined by where it's grown and how it's processed, the bulk of coffee flavour comes from roasting.

The heat applied during roasting releases aromatic compounds locked inside the green beans, thus releasing the coffee’s flavour. But, roasting is also the chief culprit behind coffee going stale. During the roasting process, the beans lose mass and become more porous, making it easier for the aromatics to escape and for the coffee to go stale as a result of coming into contact with oxygen.

When to use coffee after roasting?

In our experience, the optimum period after roasting for peak flavour of whole beans is between 7 and 30 days. There are three main factors influencing this time-frame:

Resting Period - as well as releasing aromatic compounds, the immense heat of roasting also breaks down sugars and amino acids in the bean into carbon dioxide. In the first few days after roasting, the build-up of CO2 can significantly affect brewing, making it much harder to make a tasty coffee. The coffee has to rest and de-gas for several days before before brewing. Through many years of experience tasting coffee after roasting, we’ve found seven days is an optimal resting period, although this period can be slightly shorter depending on the roast level and brewing method. Learn more here.

Packaging - one-way valves are an important feature of coffee bags since they help to maximise the peak flavour period. Valves are designed to remove the CO2, which stifles the aromatic compounds, while preventing oxygen from coming into contact. Oxygen cause the aromatics to dissipate and the coffee to turn stale. If your packaging has a one-way valve, then peak flavour can be maintained for up to 30 days. All Spiller & Tait coffee bags have a one way valve.

Storage - once you’ve opened your bag, you can maintain the peak flavour period by using a storage device that is airtight. This will prevent oxygen coming into contact with the coffee, but should have a one way valve to release the CO2. Learn more about coffee storage here.

Can the peak flavour period be extended further?

All coffee roasters must include "Best Before” dates on their packaging to comply with strict food labelling regulations, introduced in 1996, that require all perishable food items to either have a “Use By” date or a “Best Before” date visible on the packaging to help you understand when you need to consume it by. However, these dates are not identifying the peak flavour period. “Use By” is a clear instruction not to consume a perishable food item for food safety reasons. “Best Before” lets you know the product is past its optimal quality after that date.

Most coffee "Best Before” dates sit within a range from 9 to 12 months from the point of roasting. Many roasters, like us, flush their freshly roasted beans with nitrogen gas immediately after roasting and as they are being bagged, to help eliminate oxygen in the bag. But, this doesn’t mean the peak flavour is being carried forward indefinitely. In our experience, for nitrogen flushed coffee beans the peak flavour is extended to six weeks and the beans will still taste very good for up to 3 months. After 3 months, much of the flavour has dissipated. Although we’ve tasted beans from a bag that’s 9 months old and the flavour is still quite good. Spiller & Tait Best Before dates are set for 12 months because the coffee can be safely consumed well up to, and beyond, that time.

Large bags of coffee, like our 1kg bags, have become very popular because they represent great value for money. But, if you’re unlikely to get through that quantity in 30 days, we recommend you look for a fresh coffee that has been nitrogen flushed, and then use an airtight container for storage immediately after the bag is opened. Or, buy in smaller quantities.

Coffee Flavour Summary

7 Days to 30 Days after roasting: peak flavour.

 

6 weeks: peak flavour when beans are nitrogen flushed and packaging with one-way valve.



3 months: maximum period of good flavour when beans are nitrogen flushed and packaging has a one-way valve.




When you buy Spiller & Tait coffee from our website we aim for you to receive it about seven days after roasting, to coincide with the aroma and flavour starting to peak. We are committed to all customers who buy on this website receiving the best tasting coffee possible. So, if you ever have any concerns about this due to shipping delays or other problems, i.e. sometimes bags split in transit and valves can fail causing oxygen to stale the beans, then don’t hesitate to contact us. We will do all we can to make sure you have the best tasting coffee from us.





1 Response

Ian Ward
Ian Ward

May 24, 2021

Interesting article.
I usually buy 1kg bags & store in a gator, then grind enough for about 3 days.
It’s tempting to buy maybe 2 bags, but is probably best to buy less & more often.

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