Does Coffee Get Better With Age?

coffee beans in cup

If you’re a wine connoisseur and have heard that coffee shouldn’t be brewed right after the beans are roasted, you might wonder if there is a similarity. Coffee, however, isn’t entirely like wine when it comes to aging.

Coffee gets better with age up to a point, after which it starts going stale. You should avoid brewing coffee right after it is roasted and must give the beans some time to degass. After that, you should start grinding and brewing coffee for optimal taste.

In this article, you’ll learn more about why coffee doesn’t taste great right after roasting and how you can improve your coffee’s taste. You’ll also learn about preserving coffee and the best beans for great-tasting coffee.

Is Fresh Coffee Better Than Aged Coffee?

“The fresher, the better” applies to almost everything but coffee. Aged coffee is better than fresh coffee since freshly roasted coffee beans retain CO2 and other elements from the roasting process, which adversely affects the quality of the brew. These elements escape the bean after a few days of the roasting process.

Therefore, the flavor, complexity, and dimension of their resulting coffee get better if they are allowed to sit for a couple of days and undergo the degassing process. Of course, having beans sit in the open isn’t the best option for manufacturers because the harvest needs to be protected from sunlight, humidity in the air, and other environmental elements. This is where one-way air-valves help.

Most coffee bags contain minute firm circles with a small opening within them, called one-way air valves. Since these valves allow air to move in one direction only, it allows CO2 to conveniently leave the package. Without letting oxygen enter, these valves facilitate the degassing process.

Regardless of whether your coffee beans come in a bag with air valves or not, it is advised not to brew coffee beans too soon after their roast date as they aren’t at their peak taste profile. A break of a few days, usually up to a week, brings an obvious improvement in the quality of your brew.

How to Keep Your Coffee Fresh

Of course, if you try to age coffee beans like wine, you will end up with stale coffee. The aging process of coffee beans has a bit of a curve, and the quality improvement returns start to diminish after a week and a few days. Any decrease in CO2 past this point is overshadowed by the degradation from environmental exposure. So how do you keep your coffee fresh? Follow these tips!

Store The Coffee Beans In An Airtight And Cool Container 

One of the most effective ways of keeping your coffee fresh is storing the beans in a container free of air, moisture, heat, and light. You can do this by buying opaque, airtight containers like Veken Coffee Canister and storing the beans at room temperature as the retail packaging is usually not ideal for long-term storage. Avoid using clear canisters as light may compromise the taste and quality of your coffee.

Buy Only The Amount You Need 

Coffee beans can lose their freshness almost immediately after reaching peak brewing time. Therefore, it is not advisable to buy coffee in bulk when your need is not that large. 

You can buy small packages of freshly roasted coffee more frequently- every one or two weeks- to preserve their freshness. You can also divide and store your coffee supply into small portions while keeping the larger unused portion in an airtight container.

Prefer Buying Whole Beans 

Since ground coffee loses its freshness almost immediately, most coffee experts advise buying whole bean coffee instead. Grinding the bean increases its surface area, which increases the rate at which coffee grounds react to the environment. 

By buying whole beans, you reduce the surface area of your coffee stash and can grind the beans you require immediately before brewing to obtain maximum freshness.

Don’t Keep Coffee In The Fridge Or Freezer

Avoid using your refrigerator or freezer to store coffee as they are naturally moist locations and contain other kinds of food and beverages as well. Since roasted coffee is very porous, it can absorb the moisture and odor from your cold storage, which can negatively affect its freshness and flavor. The last thing you want is a sip of coffee laced with all the pleasantness of frozen turkey smell.

Indicators of Stale Coffee

Old coffee does not taste different if it’s old, which makes it quite hard to tell if it has gone stale. Although it has less caffeine and less flavor, most people cannot tell the difference.

Look for Crema

The best way to know if your coffee is stale is to look for a layer of crema or foam on it, a presence of which indicates the coffee to be fresh. If it is just a jet black liquid, your coffee is most probably stale.

Smell Your coffee

You can also smell your coffee to detect staleness, as spoiled coffee usually has a dusty, ashtray-like scent. And just like with most items that are not ashtrays, the smell of an ashtray isn’t a good omen.

Seek CO2 Release Indicators

In the case of beans, you can test their freshness by putting a handful in a zip lock bag, squeezing the leftover air out, sealing it, and leaving it overnight. If the bag puffs up with CO2, the coffee beans are no more than 7 to 10 days old and are ideal for use. However, if the bag does not puff up, the beans are not fresh.

How to Improve the Taste of Coffee?

Use Whole Bean And Fresh Coffee 

The presence of aromatic compounds in roast coffee beans is what makes it taste and smell delicious. Since these compounds start leaving the coffee immediately after roasting with degassing, they take the flavor of the coffee with them. Therefore, it is essential to grind coffee immediately before brewing to retain its flavor.

Use A Scale To Measure Water And Coffee

One of the best methods of improving the taste of your coffee is using a scale to measure water and coffee instead of adding it with tablespoons or arbitrarily. Different kinds of coffee weigh differently due to a difference in their density. Weighing them is a better option as one tablespoon of one kind of coffee may be more or less than one tablespoon of another kind.

Store Your Coffee Away From Sunlight 

Sunlight can degrade coffee by changing its temperature and increasing its environmental reactivity. Store your coffee beans in an airtight and opaque container instead of the pretty transparent ones to prevent light from entering and ruining its taste.

Clean Your Coffee Maker Thoroughly
If you use a coffee maker, make sure to clean every section of it with a neutral detergent and water instead of merely rinsing. This prevents the formation of a stale and bitter taste in coffee by removing the buildup of coffee oils.

Use Filtered Water 

Since 98.5% of brewed coffee is just water, the quality and taste of the water you use, play a major role in the taste of coffee. Using purified or filtered water is the best fit for making delicious coffee. Avoid using distilled water if you are using bottled water, as coffee does need a hint of minerality to brew properly.

Best Coffee Beans for a Tasty Cup of Joe

While I will always advocate for buying green coffee and roasting at home, if you need to purchase coffee from a distance and pre-roasted here are some good options.

Tanzania PeaBerry Coffee 

Tanzania PeaBerry Coffee beans are grown on Mt. Meru and Mt. Kilimanjaro and are a bright Arabica coffee with a deep and rich taste that boasts hints of black currant ultimately softened to chocolate. This coffee has a lingering and sweet finish, with its medium roasts exhibiting a floral aroma mingled with hints of pineapple, citrus, or coconut.

Hawaii Kona Coffee 

The best Hawaii Kona Coffee beans grow on the fertile slopes of Mauna Loa and Hualalai Volcanoes on the Big Island of Hawaii about 2,000 feet above sea level. This coffee usually exhibits buttery as well as spicy qualities with a subtle winey tone and boasts an incredible aromatic finish. It is rich yet light and delicate in taste, and that is what makes it so refined.

Volcanica Nicaragua Coffee

Almost all the coffees from this top-rated central American country are highly rated because of their darker roasts which complement their chocolate (dark, almost cacao-like) and fruity (like apples and berries) flavors.

How Does Roasting Affect Coffee’s Taste?

Light roast beans not only have a diverse flavor and aroma but are also available in a variety of floral flavors. They are light in body but high in acidity. Medium roasted beans, although diverse, are more smooth and sweet with a well-rounded and rich flavor. 

Dark roast beans, on the other hand, have the most richness but the least unique flavors. They boast a bold aroma and a heavy body and are relatively low in acidity.

Final Thoughts

Brewing your coffee from beans at different dates post-roasting will result in different taste. Deciding what date is the best is a matter of personal taste. And your taste may evolve once you gain familiarity and experience with different coffees. The right coffee depends solely on your choice or mood.

Tim S.

Tim loves roasting, brewing, and experimenting with coffee. After years of perfecting this craft, working as a barista, and owning a small coffee service in college, he has decided to share his knowledge with the world.

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