When we first opened Chazzano Coffee Roasters, I had a great idea. We roast 10-20 different single origin coffees every day. What could be a cooler gift than 2 oz. sample bags with 5-10 different choices? We bought 1000 red (our signature color) sample bags. We shipped a few out to very happy customers. Soon, we were getting complaints about burst coffee bags in transit. What was the problem? Was it a postal service problem? No, it was that none of the bags had one-way degassing valves.
When coffee is unroasted, it can be kept fresh for several years under ideal climate controlled situations. Once coffee is roasted, CO2 is released from the beans for about 2.5 weeks. Once the CO2 is completely released, it becomes stale. The aroma, and therefore the taste of the coffee, is provided by the degassing of the coffee. Therefore, when we sealed the sample bag of coffee without a one-way valve (CO2 out, but no oxygen in) it continued to expand and therefore it would explode in transit.
Most of the coffee in supermarkets is old and stale. Listen to me now. If you believe anything that I tell you, believe only this: Coffee is fresh only until about 2.5-3 weeks after roasting. Great. I said it. When you see a label on coffee that says that it’s good until even 1 year after today’s date, they’re lying. The good news is that stale coffee won’t kill you or harm you. It will just severely damage your soul.
When you peruse the coffee aisle in every supermarket, take a look at the gruesome bins of greasy, oily coffee. There are many reasons for that oiliness. First, it may be roasted so dark that the flavor oils have begun to seep out of the coffee. Once those oils fully evaporate, in a few days, it will be stale. In addition, once you roast coffee that dark, you’re burning off all of the flavor profile from the coffee. Another reason for the oiliness is that the coffee has been in the oxygen rich bins for several weeks and the flavor oils are reaching the surface of the coffee.
Most of the coffee that you drink at various cafes and restaurants are stale and/ or brewed incorrectly. Several years ago, we teamed up with a coffee distributor and a huge country club began to serve our coffee. With every new account, we make sure that they’re grinding and brewing the coffee correctly. We’ll brew a few batches of coffee to make sure that the coffee tastes awesome. For this new huge account, we wasted over 10 lbs. of coffee because it was so fresh that the coffee was brewing over the top of the brew basket. The CO2 was adding bloom to the coffee. This account had never enjoyed fresh roasted coffee before.
Next time that you’re in the coffee aisle, here are a few coffee forensics tools.
1. Check the date of the coffee- if it was roasted 2.5 weeks ago, it won’t kill you, but life is too short to drink okay coffee. Drink awesome coffee.
2. Stay away from coffee in those plastic bins. They’re convenient, but detrimental to the awesome flavor profile of a coffee. Just stay away.
3. Stay away from those beautiful displays of coffee that are on the floor overflowing with beans. It is rapidly oxidizing and it is soaking up the aromatics of the store. Think about the sushi bar and take-out items nearby. Those awesome aromatics are being soaked into the coffee. You wouldn’t want to use coffee beans that you put in the bathroom for the day, why would you want coffee that is soaking up the supermarket flavors.
4. If there is no Roast Date on the coffee, stay away. Again, life is too short to drink bad coffee.