East London Coffee Company / Brewing  / What is considered to be freshly roasted coffee and why is this important?

What is considered to be freshly roasted coffee and why is this important?

Freshly roasted coffee tastes the best!

Coffee flavour is at it’s best a few days after roasting. The popular view is that after two to five days during which accelerated de-gassing takes place, coffee reaches a point where the flavours are fully optimised. De-gassing slows after a day or two after which coffee is bagged in foil bags with a one-way valve. This valve reduces inward airflow but allows the (now slower) de-gassing to continue.

There are many views on what happens after this, but the general consensus, and our own view, is that coffee holds its flavour well for 1-6 weeks after the roast date. After this, flavour loss starts at a rate of between 0.5 and 1% per week, this accelerates a little once the bag has been opened and the coffee is exposed to fresh air. Another massive accelerant is once the coffee is ground. No matter how well the packaging, vacuum packed or not, the flavour of ground coffee will accelerate at a faster rate than that of beans. If you’re a coffee lover with a filter or non-pressurised brewing system, please consider buying yourself a grinder.

Flavour loss is slow. When does coffee expire?

Yes, at say an average of 0.75% per week, the loss of flavour is so slow that over perhaps four months, coffee still has between 90 and 95% of its original flavour and few will notice any change. This begs the question (I) when does it expire and (II) why is freshly roasted coffee so important?

(I) Coffee never truly expires nor does it go rotten or become harmful. We are, however of the considered opinion that after six months, when the coffee has lost between 10-50% of it’s flavour, the coffee is so far from its original quality that we deem this to have expired. We, therefore, mark all our coffee with a six-month “best before” date.

(II) Why is freshly roasted so important? Well, the opposite must be true. Coffee’s “best from” date is month one. So…the best thing for coffee lovers to do is to avoid coffees that have travelled a long way as logistics such as road distances, shipping containerisation and travel between warehouses take time. It is extremely unlikely that any imported coffee or commercially roasted coffee will be less than one month old by the time it reaches a supermarket shelf. Choose locally roasted coffee (South African or even better, regional) every time!