Fresh coffee beans are the first and most important ingredient when it comes to brewing great tasting coffee.
When you look around your local supermarket it's easy to assume that the coffee you see on the shelves is fresh. This is usually far from being the case.
Coffee beans are roasted, allowed to cool, ground and then put in cans or packages. By the time you take them home, it may be weeks or even months since the beans were roasted.
That's a problem, because coffee beans begin to lose their flavor the moment they come out of the roaster.
Much of the flavor of coffee is found in volatile oils which evaporate when they come into contact with air.
If you do buy packaged coffee beans from a supermarket shelf, look for bags with small, round valves on the front.
Why do they have a valve? Because when beans come out of the roaster they “gas off”. If you put fresh roasted beans into a bag and seal it, the gases would build up in the bag and it would tear or explode.
Quality coffee suppliers put the beans in bags with these one-way valves. The valve allows the gases from inside to get out of the bag, but it doesn’t allow any air into the bag.
These valves allow roasters to put beans into sealed bags as soon as possible after roasting.
This is why you shouldn't buy ground coffee in cans. Cans don't have valves, which mean the roasters have to wait for the coffee beans to cool to room temperature before grinding them and putting the ground coffee into cans. A lot of the flavor is lost in the process.
Best of all is to find a local coffee store that roasts their own beans, and ask the owner for a schedule of when the beans are roasted.
Then get down to the store and buy beans that are fresh out of the roaster.
Fresh coffee made from fresh roasted beans taste a lot better than those you buy from a supermarket shelf.
Try some and see what you think.
A bag of coffee from a reputable roaster will include a stamp or sticker that shows the date the beans were roasted.
Ideally, you'll want to brew the coffee within 2 weeks of that roast date.
It's not like to coffee beans will go bad after that time. They won't.
But they'll likely loses some of the finer nuances of their flavor.
Buy your coffee beans fresh, and brew them as soon as you can!
About the author: Nick Usborne, aka Coffee Detective, is a writer and long-time coffee enthusiast. Read more…