Issue No. 5

Roast dates and the right time to brew

November 12, 2018

Back in the 1980s, and even 1990’s, the answer to “when is the right time to brew?” seemed simple: immediately after roast! Indeed, my Coffee Connection was the first in the US to post roast dates on our barrels (we were scooping back then!) and on our bags. Many of our customers wanted to buy our coffee roasted the previous day and no later. Then the one-way valve bag arrived, becoming common practice in the 1990s. It allowed us to preserve complete freshness longer, although many of our very well-trained customers had lingering doubts….

The new millennium brought us to new levels of understanding, as Third Wave lighter roast, single farm coffees entered the market. In just a few years there were farmer quality competitions in many countries of origin. Refining the craft of brewing the best cups of coffee became a passion wherever third wave cafes opened, giving rise to regional, national and world title barista and brewer competitions. Precision instruments were developed to measure proper extraction ratios and strength, giving rise to superior results at cafes and at home; we are NOT talking about the k-cup!

These days, the international barista consensus for brewing the “best-a-coffee-can-be” is for that coffee to have rested for about a week, when sealed in one-way valve bags. Otherwise the intense release of carbon dioxide from freshly ground beans interferes with proper flavor-extraction. Coffee stays at peak in one-way sealed bags for about three weeks after roasting, with gradual degradation after that. At three months degassing is complete and quality falls off a cliff.

Once you open a bag of fresh beans, reseal and freeze the remaining beans immediately! For more on this see Issue No. 2!

– George Howell

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