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?

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i probably don't need to toss my hat into this as it seems that the consensus is you just have to test it and find the peak for your specific coffee.

at topeca coffee we exhaustively test our espresso in the roastary's espresso lab, we look into all of the parameters including peak after roasting and then give our clients our recommendations. having said that every shop does things differently so some of our clients use different parameters. for instance we've found that currently our espresso peaks around 5 days and just isn't as good before that (the HG natural doesn't start to develop the strawberry nose before 5 days) and if stored in the bag with one way valve it can stay good up to 12 days. we do have a policy of trading cafes out with a new bag if it's past ten days old. some clients like to let the coffee age a little longer, but they have a different espresso machine and a propensity for restretto's so, i guess you just have to do what works for you.

double shot's is located here in tulsa where we're at and i can tell you from first hand experience that they do thing's their own way and it works. they have great coffee and an awesome cafe. i think they have some unorthadox methods but who cares it's all about whats in the cup and i've had there espresso 2 or 3 days after being roasted and can tell you it's awesome.
it is all about letting the beans release the necessary gasses to produce an excellent shop of espresso. For a regular drip or french press grind, it is course enough to only extract the proper oils and gasses. As for espresso, the grind is too fine and exploits the sour gasses in the fresh bean (usually tasting too green or hoppy). Since you're talking about your roastery, you have the ability to take the beans through a test run. Put aside a 5lb. bag or so and divide it into enough for weeks supply of pulling shots (just a few for testing) and just take notes on what you're getting as the beans continue to degass.
St.Louis is not that humid in February.

Joshua "Yeshi" Longsdorf said:
Hmmm, I don't know if the two can exactly be compared directly because now we are talking two different roast dates which I would think would be a variable to consider. Also was the coffee single origin or blend. If blend was the blending and roasting consistent in each batch.

I just had a little thought, it would seem to me that after the same period of rest and part of that time being in Denver for the one and St. Louis for the other that the St. Louis should have actually been gassier. If elevation did have an effect I would think that the higher elevation, less atmosphere, would allow for degassing at a faster rate meaning the beans would be depleted of co2 more quickly and would then have less to offer while being pulled on the machine. Of course I could be wrong and degassing could be a process occurring at a constant rate being it is a chemical reaction and then elevation would have no effect.

Can anyone offer more insight on the actual degassing process and if it's a constant or not?

I think the biggest variable that effected the espresso would have been the climate. Denver being very dry and St. Louis being very humid.
Tamara Vigil said:
We have a GB5 and a Linea. However our espresso was not nearly as bubbly at the midwest regional in st. Louis, again 4 days after roast.
I, Mike Marquard and Micah Svejdha all competed in the USBC from Kaldi's Coffee Roasting Company in St. Louis. This issue was of great interest and concern to us during our preparation. Coffeed had a great thread on the off-gassing process of coffee in relationship to flying. This incorporates all of the issues of altitude and time in reference to off gassing, but does not get into espresso.

So,... Mike and I used the same blend. We shipped some of the blended espresso (3 bean post-roast blend) and each of the components via UPS ground. We also did the same in our check bags and carry on. We also roasted each of the coffee so that we would have a 11 days old batch for each of the 3 days of competition. Once we got to the USBC and were able to play around with the coffee we discovered that the blended espresso that we had checked in our luggage tasted far superior to the other roasts. It not only demonstrated a more stable and smooth cream, but the flavors were much more vibrant, the after taste was more pleasant and lingered longer, and it had a nicer mouth feel. Could it have been a roast? Maybe. There is obviously a meriad of factors at work here.

One more point of interest: Mike opened his bag of espresso 24 hours before his time and I did not. I was afraid of staling. His shots, etc... scored much better than mine. One of the comments I recieved was that my espresso seemed to be a tiny bit too fresh. Yes, I am fully aware that Mike has superior barista skills. But, I feel that this difference is well worth noting. Fresh espresso is not as good as rested espresso. We have spent a lot of time testing this with many roast level, and origins. 10-14 days seems to optimum. However, after 14 days the espresso quality drops off a cliff.
Nicely done my friend! I just learned something. Oh what's your source for that info? I'd like to verify it so I can use it in conversation.

Ben Gleeson said:
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!
I agree. I got excited when I saw this post!! I too would be thrilled to have the source for this info.

John Cunningham said:
Nicely done my friend! I just learned something. Oh what's your source for that info? I'd like to verify it so I can use it in conversation.

Ben Gleeson said:
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!
I just conducted an experiment. I made some espresso that was only one hour out of the roaster. i used a GS3, mazzer flat burr grinder, and C-Ripple tamper. the parameters where 9 bars of pressure, 201 degrees, and an extraction time of 25 seconds. i used a finer than usual grind to compensate for the fast pour and bubbly nature of fresh roasted coffee. the result was that i still perceived the strong dark chocolate flavor indicative of our espresso. It lacked however the standard berry fruitiness, and had a decidedly mediciney aftertaste.
It depends on a lot of things, but from personal experience I find my espresso peaking right around 4-6 days post roast.

When it's too fresh, there's loads of crema (can be a bad thing in this situation...too much C02), and it tastes shiny/chalky.

As it ages beyond peak, it'll start to pull a little flat (lacking crema), and the flavor profile begins to diminish. I dislike working with our beans beyond 6 days after roasting, it's not preferable. At the same time it's no fun to have right off the roaster either.

There's a cool graph in last months Roast Magazine which shows how degassing works over time. I'm sure it varies, but I've consistently found 4-6 days post roast to be the magic window.

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