Beacuse they are dark and dry, roasted coffee beans don’t look delicate. But they are just like bananas. Remember, this is a fruit that has been subjected to high temperatures. The resulting sugars have a finite shelf life and a baseline for consumption.
In general, coffee beans thrive on room temperature, darkness and air-tight bags. Yet roasted beans are taken for granted by cafes, grocery stores and coffee resellers. Unknowing shoppers will buy coffee from glass dispensers, thinking it is fresh, but two things don't match up: the roast is subjected to light 24/7 and it carries no roast date.
For those reasons, there are some estimates that 99% of all the coffee consumed is stale. The horror! Your $4 latte, $3 pour over — stale? Moreover, you pay $10-$20 at stores or coffee shops you trust to sell you reliably good roast.
That’s why it is so important to always look for a roast date on the label.
Roast, rest and roil
Beans have a lifespan of about 5 weeks after the roast date, then the liveliness of flavors begin to drop off. Stale coffee is merely flat with no complexity, but it can become bitter after a while. Educated palates would give roasted coffee no more than 3 weeks before finishing a bag. No roast date on your bag? A whole other conversation — would you buy old fruit? All Elevated Roast bags have roast dates. We feel it's absolutely ethical.
Chemists and cupping experts are close on optimum drinking periods. After a roast is bagged it will off-gas from 1 to 7 days and sugars will bind and caramelize to a maximum level of maturity. Some very light roasts rest up to 7 days. The off-gassing from trapped CO2 is what requires this. If you have ever let dough rise and proof for 24 to 72 hours, this is no different. Development continues while the roast rests. Light roasts are ready to brew in 7 days, medium in 3 days, dark in 1-2 days. Here is why: the darker the roast, the more CO2 is roasted out of the bean. The lighter the roast, the more CO2 is held densely inside.
When you order from us, we ship within 24 hours. Beans rest throughout the trip in the mail, ready at your doorstep.
Best storage devices are poly-lined bags with one-way degassing valves or an opaque canister with the same valve. These valves release CO2 — the vital component to creating flavor (as yeast is to dough) — but don't allow anything in. Squeezing the bag to release air before closing helps preserve freshness, much as you would seal a pint of sour cream before putting it back in the refrigerator.
There is controversy surrounding this, but there wouldn’t be if all coffee drinkers blind-cupped a fresh roast compared to one that was frozen in a one-way valve bag and stored for three years. Freeze your roast intended to be stored and ground at a later date. Do not re-freeze and do not refrigerate - this causes condensation. Loyalists who buy our subscriptions will attest to getting 3-4 bags every 4 weeks, but freezing all but the one they have opened. It's every bit fresh.
In all candor, even some coffee you see at the grocery store for $7-$10 can be acceptable if certain conditions are met: a very recent roast date, proper storage and if you grind before you brew. It might not curated specialty coffee, but in a pinch it will carry you.