We put a lot of time and effort into making sure we convey our message of “Fresh roasted coffee”, but what does that really mean. Does it matter when you order or receive your coffee after its roasted? Why can’t I just stock up and store coffee in my freezer or kitchen cabinets?
These are all valid questions that we get asked, so let’s see if we can set the record straight. Coffee is one of the most flavorful drinks we have available to us, packing over 800 flavor compounds…that’s more than wine! With so many delicate aromatic oils locked inside this little bean it’s extremely important to understand its delicacy. Before Specialty-Grade coffee is roasted it needs to be grown, harvested at peak ripeness, properly processed and packaged for shipment (usually in jute bags). I say “properly processed” because unlike a lot of foods, Specialty coffee will go through at least 17 processing steps before it gets to your cup. Farmers have been perfecting this for centuries and continue to improve the process. After green beans are milled and graded (separated according to size/quality) they’re dried to reach an optimum moisture content of 11-12%. When the green beans reach their proper moisture level they rest at origin for another 30-60 days before being shipped. From harvest at the farm to reaching a roaster stateside it may be a 2-3 month journey for these beans.
If a roaster receives their green beans 2-3 months after harvest and begins roasting, they may be at an advantage. Although green beans have a long shelf life (up to 3 years) their cellular structure does begin to deteriorate with exposure to oxygen and changes in the environment. Some roasters even go to the extent of having their green beans vacuumed sealed at the farm and then shipped. Allowing green beans to sit around for years before roasting will more than likely leave you with a stale, boring or woodsy tasting cup of Joe. Not exactly our intentions.
Here at Boca Java we craft roast our Specialty green beans in a solid steel drum, utilizing natural gas and manual airflow to highlight each beans exact peak of greatness. So what does that mean? While in the hot roaster the cellular structure of the bean is expanding from its dry, hard state to an aromatic “alive” state. At various stages sugars, starches and fats within the coffee bean are emulsified, caramelized, and released, creating coffee oil (Known as browning & Maillard reactions). This oil gives coffee its taste and beautiful aromas we have come to love. With each varietal across all origins being unique, it requires a mix of art and science to reveal its own unique perfection.
Once the roasting process is finished the beans get to rest again, this time for 1-2 days (known as degassing period). Coffee is now at its peak of flavor, but will start the downhill slide from here. I say downhill because we may have started with 800 plus flavor compounds but time will slowly diminish these. Each origin and degree of roast is different so we will generalize these statements. Around the 2 week mark coffee begins to mellow out as the acids settle. This may leave you with a nice balanced cup of sweetness and brightness (acidity). Getting into the 3-4 week range you may notice a less vibrant cup, losing some of its brightness or fruitiness. This of course may vary depending on how you store the coffee. Exposure to oxygen will surely expedite the staling process as will moisture. Once you get past the 30 day mark (store bought coffee) the experience becomes less pleasurable on the palate. The remainder of the oils are seeping out at this point and losing the majority of their flavor characteristics. Anything beyond 30+ days usually equates to a boring, flat cup of coffee.
So there is a reason we put a “Roasted On” date. We want to assure you that it’s being shipped at optimal freshness right after being roasted. We also like to encourage our customers to order more frequently so you’re not stuck storing coffee for weeks or months. I recommend buying what you know you can drink in 2 weeks. This should always leave you with the most gratifying, mouth satisfying coffee experience possible. And that my friends, is our goal!