There you are, looking at a beautiful tray of freshly roasted coffee beans. The color is perfect, the aroma is heavenly, and your surrounding area has been transported into a dream world fit to turn any coffee hater into an obsessive indulger. However, is there more to do after a roast?
Does fresh roasted coffee need to rest? In order to get the best flavor from your coffee beans, freshly roasted coffee needs to rest and aerate between 12-24 hours. This process is called degassing and is necessary to release CO2 from the beans to have a better tasting coffee. If too much CO2 is present, you could end up with a bitter brew.
This may seem like a tedious step. After all, you are ready for your piping hot cup of coffee right this very instant. Although your wantedness is completely warranted, in this instance, patience plays a very key role in ensuring that your coffee beans are brewed at their very best. Clutter your kitchen counters for just a few hours more and let your beans aerate and on the plus side, your home will smell like your favorite coffee shop for a couple of hours longer.
Why Do Coffee Beans Need to Rest Once Roasted?
You have done all the work up to this point necessary to ensure the most perfect roast of your beloved coffee beans: picked the freshest beans, set the oven to just the right roasting temperature, made sure to stir them so no bean was unevenly roasted, listened for the desired cracking point, and pulled them out just in time. The work is admirable, but your beans need one thing more and that is to rest.
As mentioned earlier, this resting is encouraged in order to allow the beans to de-gas. Degassing is a process that occurs after your beans have been roasted. After the roasting process has been completed, CO2 begins to release from the beans. This release is actually rather rapid and needs to happen so that the coffee can have a more even and smooth taste.
If you trap that CO2 in a bag too early, your beans will then hold on to bitter notes which tends to ruin the flavor and overall drinkability. Think of degassing to be relative to resting a lasagna after you have pulled it from the oven. You cannot simply start serving slices all willy nilly because you will end up with a soupy serving and the piece would be so hot all flavor would be completely obliterated due to your mouth being scorched.
How Long Does the Degassing Process Take?
This is a topic of wide debate honestly. Many people argue that degassing can be as little as six hours, or can take as long as two weeks. Although there is argumentation and skepticism behind this topic, there are some general rules that you can follow to ensure your perfectly roasted brood of beans gets its necessary outside time before uniting with your brewer.
As there are different sorts of roasts for coffee, degassing typically should be tailored to each particular roast. Your coffee needs to be individualized, needs to be seen, and needs to be heard. Ok, so it may not be a teenager, but there are different processes for each particular roast. In general though, the degassing process will be between two and twelve days. Just be sure to give that last bit of effort to properly degas so that optimal flavor is achieved.
Some general information to remember includes:
- Longer roasts typically de-gas at faster rates than quicker roasts
- Dark roasts tend to degas faster than light roasts
- The majority of degassing occurs within the first twenty-four hours
You can be the ultimate judge of this degassing process. If you have a lighter roast, give it some time to really get all those gases out of its system. If you have a darker roast, you will likely be enjoying the fruits of your labor sooner rather than later. The beauty of this variation of degassing time is that, for the most part, you have a little wiggle room for either speeding up the time or stretching it out a bit more without negatively affecting the flavor of your beans.
Keep in mind though, you do not want to abuse the system too much. Once your beans have been properly degassed and a good amount of time has passed to allow this process, oxygen will begin to seep into the pores of your beans. This is a problem because the permeation of oxygen into coffee beans causes them to get stale which in turn your ideal brew into something that deserves a dump into the drain.
Can the Degassing Process be Sped Up?
It is cruel really, to have to stare at your glistening coffee beans and know that you cannot pop them right into a grinder, brew them up, and enjoy them on your porch with a cozy sweater and a view of the mountains. This drudgery may entice you to find ways to speed up the process of degassing so you can go ahead and get to living your best life with your best cup of joe. However, speeding up this process can lead to trashed beans rather than hot brews.
Degassing can happen quickly, but the results will ruin your coffee beans. Therefore, it is not advised to try to speed up the process in any way. Just as wine is better aged, cheese has fuller flavor when it has been stored for longer amounts of time, and a great steak has a richer flavor when it has been rested, so follow coffee beans. The slow process of degassing allows for the proper amounts of CO2 to escape at reasonable rates without too much oxidation.
If you were to grind up your coffee beans right off the bat, CO2 would escape far too rapidly. At the same time, too much CO2 would be released and some is needed in order to keep coffee beans fresh. When you grind them so soon, you also allow oxygen to seep into the grounds and that leads to the decay of flavor and leaves you with stale grinds. Although it may feel agonizing, slowly degassing your beans is the best way to ensure superior taste.
Myths About Storing Coffee
Growing up, I cannot say that my immediate family or extended family had a passion for coffee. Coffee was simply something that got them through long commutes, was drunk lukewarm because mothers never got the chance to drink the cup in one sitting, or was served beside a dessert well into the evening hours. It is sad really, the lack of love that went into our coffee concern.
I remember at my grandmother’s home when searching for a popsicle or a scoop of ice cream, there would always be a container of coffee grounds sitting in her freezer next to frozen pizza and lima beans. She always insisted that this method kept the grounds fresher for longer. As I grew up, I noticed others doing the exact same thing, so this must be a full-proof plan, right? Wrong.
Coffee, whether store-bought or made fresh from home, needs to be stored in dark, cool areas. The reason for this is to keep the coffee beans from being exposed to too much moisture. When grounds are placed in a freezer, moisture is able to permeate the ground which leads to sour, bitter, or stale tastes once the coffee has been brewed.
If you want to take the risk and truly have no shelf space or think it will be a while before consuming, you can store whole beans in the freezer. This is better than storing grounds because a whole bean is less susceptible to moisture than grounds are.
Proceed with caution though because whole beans are porous and are thus still capable of taking on moisture. Be sure to weigh the risk versus reward in this situation, as a lost batch may not be worth it to freeze.
Ways to Maximize Freshness
You now know that your coffee beans need to rest in order to get peak flavor. You also know that this process cannot be sped up and that you cannot extend the shelf life of your grounds by popping them into the freezer. How exactly do you keep your beans or grounds fresher for longer then? Although you may gulp down your product within days, sometimes having a bit of excess happens and you need to know the best ways to keep those excesses fresh.
As mentioned earlier, your best bet for storing is to keep your beans and grounds in a cool, dark place. This means storing them in an air-tight container to prevent oxygen from seeping in and placing them in an area that has a stable indoor temperature – an area that is not full of light and one that can keep your coffee relatively cool.
If you tend to drink loads of coffee and are not making your own from home, consider buying less coffee more often. Go ahead and buy some freshly roasted coffee, but buy a smaller batch so you do not have to store the product for too long and can get right back to a fresh brew once you run out. This may have you making more trips to the coffee shop, but your taste buds will thank you.
Once you have opened a package of coffee that is not one that is air-tight, do not leave it in the package. Be sure to take the coffee from the bag and store it in an air-tight container to keep that nasty oxygen out of reach. By doing this, you can maintain the freshness of your coffee and avoid any chances of them rapidly going stale.