Summer is here! And we wanted to welcome it by launching our "RE:" Summer Series - i.e. posts intended to increase your coffee knowledge and bring your coffee experience to a whole new level! They're inspired by questions we frequently get... and we hope you'll help us keep them relevant and interesting by suggesting new topics!
This first one is on a topic we're particularly obsessed about - FRESHNESS! It is perhaps one of the most important quality attributes in coffee, and a major predictor of both aroma and flavor intensity! Why? Because the chemical reactions responsible for coffee aroma and flavor are the same that happen in baking (ever compared a freshly baked loaf of bread with one that's been sitting in your pantry for a week?) - the Maillard reaction (between amino acids and reducing sugars) and Caramelization (the thermal breakdown of sugar). It is these two 'non-enzymatic browning' reactions that transform green coffee components into delicious nutty, chocolatey, 'freshly roasted' aromas & flavors in our coffee beans! We've included links to their Wikipedia pages, for those who'd like to have some fun looking at the chemistry! (I actually had to memorize all the chemical steps for both of these for my PhD Qualifying Exams... they're THAT important... and also responsible for flavor in any food product that's baked, cooked, roasted, browned, dried, etc.... but I digress!).
Now, the tricky part is that all of the aromas (which are also key to certain flavors) formed in these reactions are volatile... which means they're lost over time. In roasted coffee, this loss is exacerbated by the natural "de-gassing" process, i.e. the release of carbon dioxide that has been trapped within the bean's cell structures during the last roasting stages, and slowly released for months after roasting. And while there's nothing we can do to stop this... there are some ways you can keep your coffee fresh longer!
The first is to BUY FRESH! - using your beans within a month of the roasting date will always give you the best experience! You can expect mild flavor changes after 6-8 weeks, and pronounced changes after 4-5 months (yet we hope your beans won't ever last you that long!). The second is to GRIND FRESH - keeping your coffee beans "whole" means less surface area will be exposed to air... leaving those delicious aromas "trapped" inside the beans for much longer! And the third is to KEEP COOL (but not in the fridge!) - keeping your beans in a cool (air conditioned), dark place (i.e. your pantry) and in a tightly sealed bag (i.e. the bag we ship to you is specially designed to keep your coffee fresh... only make sure the zipper is always tightly sealed!) will slow down de-gassing, and protect against flavor oxidation! Placing your coffee bag inside an airtight container will also provide some extra protection! Please don't place in the fridge or the freezer - as this will accelerate the de-gassing process (and your beans may 'absorb' some of the aromas/flavors of the other foods in your fridge).
Thank you so much for reading... we hope this was interesting & helpful... and please email us if you have any ideas/questions for our next "RE:" post!
PS. Quick update on the R15 roaster... we finally got the electrical upgrade project approved, and the new panel was installed on our building last Friday... and are expecting Lakeland Electric to connect our new power as soon as this week!!!