For many of us, there’s nothing we love more than a good fresh cup brewed with the highest quality beans. But is there such a thing as coffee that is too freshly roasted? When I first started roasting my own beans, I didn’t think to differentiate – since then I’ve learned a lot about coffee best practices.
As a rule of thumb, it is perfectly fine to drink your coffee right after roasting. It is unlikely that it will ruin the flavor of your favorite blend. Unless you have an incredibly well-developed palate, you likely won’t notice much difference in flavor at all.
So, the good news is, you can enjoy your freshly brewed coffee right after roasting. But keep in mind, it will have some impact on the flavor. If you’re a coffee purist, there are good reasons to let your beans rest a little while after roasting. Keep reading and I’ll share more information about the optimal time to brew after roasting.
Does Brewing Your Coffee Right After Roasting Affect the Taste?
When roasted, coffee beans release carbon dioxide and nitrogen gasses. These gasses can potentially lend unwanted flavors to your coffee. Some coffee consumers have described these flavors as “metallic”, and akin to “green vegetables”.
The metallic taste is attributed to carbon dioxide (think carbonated water), while the green, vegetable flavor is attributed to nitrogen. However, according to a taste-test conducted by Freda Yuan, the Head of Quality Control at Caravan Coffee, these unwanted flavors are not necessarily detrimental to the coffee’s integrity.
In the taste test, Yuan roasted two separate batches of beans. She let one batch rest for 15 minutes, and the other rest for 14 hours, before tasting. Besides a few minor differences in flavor and mouthfeel, she describes the difference overall as “very minor”. She even goes on to say that there were moments when she almost couldn’t tell the difference between the two batches at all! If you’re an espresso-drinker however, Yuan does make a point to say that you should rest your beans for at least seven days before brewing, as espresso flavor standards do not tolerate as much of that green vegetable taste.
So, while I’m sure there are some coffee purists out there who would say that even the slightest difference in flavor is unacceptable, from one professional’s perspective, it doesn’t seem to make that big of a difference.
But let’s say you are one of those purists. How long should you wait before brewing to avoid those unwanted flavors?
According to the experts over at Len’s Coffee, resting your beans from one to three days should do the trick. Most beans are ready to brew after about 24 hours; but for some, additional time might be needed to ensure optimal flavor. For most roasters, it’s a matter of personal taste. A little trial and error might be necessary to find the perfect resting time for your beans.
So how do you go about resting your beans, anyway?
How to Degas Your Coffee Beans
Degassing is the technical term for resting your coffee beans after roasting. By letting your coffee beans rest, you are, in effect, giving the beans time to release those unwanted gasses. But while the process of degassing isn’t too complicated, it is a little trickier than it sounds. For starters. you don’t actually want all of those gasses released from the beans. Confused yet? Don’t worry, the explanation’s pretty simple.
As it turns out, carbon dioxide isn’t all bad. In fact, when balanced correctly, the presence of some carbon dioxide in your beans gives them a freshly roasted flavor (go figure!). So, degassing is really less about getting rid of all the gasses in your beans, and more about finding a perfect balance, so that your beans taste fresh, but not too fresh, if you get my meaning.
How to Store Your Beans for Degassing
After you’ve successfully roasted your beans, you’ll want to keep them somewhere nice and dry while also limiting their exposure to air, as oxygen can turn your beans flavorless and stale. A sealable container is the best option, but you’ll still need a way for the gas to escape. If there is no way for the gas to escape, it can build up inside the container and potentially explode!
A container with a degassing valve is ideal, but if you don’t have access to one of those, you can store your coffee in a common sealable container. If you go with this option, you’ll need to make sure to “burp” the container every 12 hours pr so by opening the lid and releasing those trapped gasses. Do this for one to three days; then it’s time to see if your beans are ready.
How to Know if your Beans are Ready
With dark roasts, it’s easy to tell. Simply take a bean out of your degassing container and rub it between your fingers. If it leaves an oily residue, then you’re ready to roast. If you don’t notice any oily residue, your beans might be a little too degassed. If this is the case, go ahead and brew them as soon as possible to keep them from going stale.
Light roasts tend to take longer than dark roasts to degas. It’s also harder to tell visually if they’re ready or not. A good rule of thumb is to give them the full three days before brewing. But, if you’d like more assurance than that, there’s always the bag test.
This test works for both light and dark roast beans and is a sure-fire method for determining whether or not your beans have finished degassing. Simply take a sealable plastic bag and place a handful of beans inside. Now, you want to press as much air out of the bag as you can. We’re going for a vacuum-tight seal. Then, seal the bag and leave it on the counter for an hour or so. If the bag begins to swell, the degassing process is not yet complete. But if after an hour, the bag is still vacuum-tight, your beans are good to go! Now you can enjoy your freshly-roasted coffee beans without a trace of those unwanted flavors.