Whether you’ve considered making your own roasted coffee beans or you simply want to be able to buy truly fresh beans, some simple facts about coffee can help you choose the best beans and end up with the best coffee you’ve ever had.
Coffee beans start out green. These raw beans are then roasted and ground into the coffee that most of us are familiar with. In fact, most everyone who has ever drunk coffee has experienced both an excellent and a horrible cup of coffee. Considering that you can do everything from growing your own coffee to purchasing instant coffee that only requires hot water, it’s no wonder that the quality of coffee can vary from one extreme to another.
And the price really has no bearing on quality. You can pay a lot of money for brand name instant coffee that tastes worse than the cheaper ground coffee that sits next to it on the shelf. Expensive Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee might cost more than the store-brand, but if the Jamaican coffee is old and stale, the cheaper coffee will taste better. The problem with coffee you buy in a store is that you never really know how old the roasted coffee beans were when the coffee was ground, and how long ago the beans were ground—both factors that make or break the quality and flavor of coffee.
Roasted coffee beans are considered fresh for about a month, so the coffee you buy in a store should have been ground from those beans during that time. And the moment beans are ground, the coffee is fresh, but should be used immediately. Vacuum packing does retain much of the freshness, but coffee lovers know that freshly ground from bean to brew makes a better cup of coffee than freshly ground and instantly packaged, to sit on a shelf for who knows how long.
If you’re purchasing whole roasted coffee beans, then the way they’re packaged will tell you something about their age. If there’s no way for CO2 to escape the package, then the beans had to sit for several days before they were packaged. If the packaging does allow for this release, then they were probably packaged immediately and will be fresher, providing you’re able to purchase them right away.
While they’re considered fresh for 30 days, true coffee fans will tell you that 3 days is the window for the best-tasting coffee. After 3 days, the freshly roasted coffee beans will start to lose their aromatic oils. So for the best coffee possible, you can buy green coffee beans and roast them yourself at home.
The whole process of roasting your own beans takes less than a half an hour. Home roasting equipment lets you roast only small batches—batches that can be easily used within 3 days—so you’re always guaranteed a fresh cup of coffee. If you choose to purchase roasted coffee beans, choose a shop that revolves around coffee so you know you’ll get quality every time.