In the most recent AA Café Podcast (Recorded fairly regularly by the fine folks at DoubleShot Coffee Company in Tulsa, OK) the crew discusses how fresh should espresso be when it is served. Apparently at the SCRBC, Isaiah got comments on how the beans were too fresh after sitting for three days. Most competitors opted to hold their coffee ten days for it to "peak." Brian (DoubleShot's roaster) says that coffee served past a week from roast is probably stale and cites a presentation from the last SCAA conference.

What are your opinions on this? In my own experience, I have had coffee that I found more enjoyable after it has sat for a week, as well as coffee that has lost flavor and texture from sitting for the same period of time. Is this a phenomenon that varies by roaster?

Tags: coffee, doubleshot, fresh, peak, podcast, scaa, scrbc, stale, too

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i think a lot of it has to do with the coffee itself, certain beans peak/go stale at different times, i think 3 days is a standard for gassing off, but after that you just have to listen to the beans
Both coffee and style/degree of roast seem to impact the rates of degassing and decay. Just 5 years ago, there was a consistent freshness drumbeat in the industry that had everyone drinking coffees sooner than would be ideal, but it seems to be trending toward longer and more reasonable rest times now, such as with the 10 days you mentioned.

As a rule of thumb, whole bean coffee with access to oxygen at room temperature tends to stale in about 2 weeks. Taste your coffee each day for 2-3 weeks, extracted under similar conditions, and note the changes in flavor. That should give you an idea of its maturation cycle and ideal target dates for use.
It's been my opinion that these changes in taste are magnified in espresso preparation. I have gone in to Albina Press and other shops that will tell me how many days past roast the coffee is, and it is generally best about 4-10 days after from what I have tasted.

Andrew's points are good ones. Pull shots from the same batch each day under the same parameters and try to taste differences, or even better, skip days so that you may have a more noticeable difference, with your espresso.

- Matt
I was surprised to hear about this also. I've always used my coffee between 1-4 days after roasting, and I love the espresso it makes. But exchanging ideas with several of you on the forum, I'm letting it rest, and will start doing taste tests in about a week or so. I'll let you know what differences we find.
This difference still really blows me away. I agree, it is good to wait several days to a week for things to mellow out for espresso. But I also think that a coffee is generally at peak flavor for FP or other low-pressure method 2-3 days out of roast and noticeably faded at the 7 day mark. If you are brewing press and you let it rest for 10 days, you'll have missed the party.

It just seems a shame that what is clearly the peak of flavor and complexity in the bean is overshadowed by other stuff (CO2, right?) when it becomes espresso. So here is a question... I've heard some here say (but not verified myself) that vacuum packing roasted coffee is not so good, since it will cause the bean to kick off its CO2 too soon and stale too rapidly once its opened. If this is true, has anyone ever see if this could be used to our advantage in espresso? Basically sucking out some of the CO2 that is causing problems prior to that 4 day mark so that the coffee can be used as espresso while things are still uber-fresh? Just asking, cause it might be fun to try...
Read Brady's helpful comments at the "Help me with my espresso" discussion. Here's the link:
http://www.baristaexchange.com/forum/topics/help-me-with-my-espresso
Also, some more good replies on this discussion about "how long do you keep you espresso after it's roasted":

http://www.baristaexchange.com/forum/topics/1688216
I personally never let my espresso blend "hit the hopper" until day 4 after roasting/bagging. I time out my roasts and delivery dates to make sure that this holds true for all of my wholesale accounts, ensuring that the espresso is always being utilized between days 4 - 11. If, for some reason, an account is going to be needing to get into the espresso before day 4, I'll let it off-gas in the barrel (instead of immediately bagging in foil bags w/ one-way valves), as this allows them to de-gas a bit quicker. The degree that a coffee needs to degas seems to be directly related to the origins, degree of roast, and time of the roast - or the overall bean density of the finished product.

My espresso blend is currently constituted of four different origins, roasted to slightly different degrees of darkness, and I've recently begun experimenting with off-gasing them individually to find their unique "sweet spots" - with the idea that each origin will have differing target dates. Hopefully then I can time out by roasting and blending to where each origin is reaching their peak at the same time. We'll see!

Definitely, it's been my experience that coffee that is too fresh produces a gassy, sharp (acidic), and rather flat shot lacking depth and complexity. Proper ageing seems to smooth out the edges and marry the flavors as designed. An espresso that has just passed it's peak may actually be smoother yet, but one will notice the crema dissipating too quickly and a diminishing of it's defining characteristics. Experiment! Thank God none of us hold all the right answers, as we may then become (shudder) bored. And wonderful forums like this would no longer be needed.
Good post. So glad to see a roaster contribute to this thread. So much knowledge in your ranks... Seeing where this thread started, it would be great to see some good roaster vs. roaster discussion action here.

Velton, it is nice to hear about your "sweet spot" experiments. Have you noticed big differences with this approach?
Hi James,
The reason we leave coffee to 'age' before using it with an espresso machine is largely due to having way too much co2 in the bean in the first week.. My next logical question was 'why then can you cup immediately and be fine then?' - and nobody seemed to able to give me a straight answer!? so I did a bit of scratching around and found out that too much co2 in coffee only becomes a problem when it is put under pressure ie. espresso machine.. Co2 under pressure creates a bi-product - carbonic acid, which flavour characteristics are sour and salty.. hence too much co2 in espresso 'covers' the sweeter more subtle aromas! and it is why the second week is almost always sweeter to taste.. and why you don't get the sour/salty taste when you cup, no pressure.. I hope that shed's some light!
Yes. I feel the more fresh the more potent, for me in a bad way yuck. I like coffee that has sat for about a week or so. Don't get me wrong I do not nor will not drink coffee from a shelf or a Starbucks but I like it to be not so "green".
I like your style, we are also firm believers in post roast blending, we however are of the belief that blending the coffee right after roasting is most beneficial. Our line of reasoning is that as coffee is degassing it will also absorb the scents around it, we see it as a more thorough blending of the coffee. We like to use our coffee between 5-10 days.

Velton Ross said:
I personally never let my espresso blend "hit the hopper" until day 4 after roasting/bagging. I time out my roasts and delivery dates to make sure that this holds true for all of my wholesale accounts, ensuring that the espresso is always being utilized between days 4 - 11. If, for some reason, an account is going to be needing to get into the espresso before day 4, I'll let it off-gas in the barrel (instead of immediately bagging in foil bags w/ one-way valves), as this allows them to de-gas a bit quicker. The degree that a coffee needs to degas seems to be directly related to the origins, degree of roast, and time of the roast - or the overall bean density of the finished product.

My espresso blend is currently constituted of four different origins, roasted to slightly different degrees of darkness, and I've recently begun experimenting with off-gasing them individually to find their unique "sweet spots" - with the idea that each origin will have differing target dates. Hopefully then I can time out by roasting and blending to where each origin is reaching their peak at the same time. We'll see!

Definitely, it's been my experience that coffee that is too fresh produces a gassy, sharp (acidic), and rather flat shot lacking depth and complexity. Proper ageing seems to smooth out the edges and marry the flavors as designed. An espresso that has just passed it's peak may actually be smoother yet, but one will notice the crema dissipating too quickly and a diminishing of it's defining characteristics. Experiment! Thank God none of us hold all the right answers, as we may then become (shudder) bored. And wonderful forums like this would no longer be needed.

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