One of my fondest childhood memories is my mom baking bread. Today, butter melting on a thick, warm slice of freshly baked bread still tastes like my childhood.
Growing up in a family of six like mine, that freshly baked goodness never made it to Day 2. It didn’t even make it to the 8 ‘o clock news. For the purpose of this post though, let’s pretend it did. Let’s imagine my sisters and I were able to exercise some self-control. Let’s imagine we let the bread just stand there. For days. It would, of course, get stale. Because of the exposure to air. To oxygen, more specifically.
Same goes for coffee.
As soon as coffee beans are roasted, they start to lose their freshness. Because of the exposure to air. To oxygen, more specifically. The longer that exposure, the more freshness is lost. So the key to the freshest cup of coffee possible is quite simple actually: buy coffee as close to the roast date as possible.
Coffee geeks globally recommend you’ll get the best results by consuming within 2 weeks of the roast date. Some even recommend that the coffee “rest” for a week after roasting for maximum results. My advice: buy coffee as close to the roast date as you can manage. The closer to the roast date you’re drinking that coffee, the fresher it will be, the better it will taste.
So how do you find out what the roast date is? Lately, I’ve found it’s not difficult at all. Good coffee shops know when their beans were roasted. Just ask. Good retailers, I discovered last week, go as far as taking unsold bags of coffee off the shelves to replenish with beans roasted less than 2 weeks ago. So, mostly, we’re in good hands.
But for the absolute best chance of knowing when exactly the coffee was roasted, there’s a simple little trick: buy your coffee directly from the roaster.
Making a habit of finding out when your coffee was roasted is one of the best things you’ll do on your coffee journey. Why don’t you Google your nearest coffee roaster and make a plan to visit one this weekend. If they’re not conveniently located, ask for the names of the coffee shops they supply.
While you do that, I’m going to call my mom.
Cover image of Jono Le Feuvre supplied by Rosetta Roastery