Have you purchased coffee only to look at the bag and realise the number printed on it would mean the coffee has just recently expired? Well you would not be alone in thinking that. However, the date written on the front side of your coffee bag is not the expiry date, it is in fact the roast date! The roasting date is kind of the opposite of an expiry date and is more important for coffee lovers as it can demonstrate a lot about the coffee.
The age of your coffee or the numbers of days since the roast date will significantly affect the taste of your coffee and the way it should be extracted. This is why it is so important to have the roasting date printed on your coffee bag. If you can’t find the roast date on the coffee bag that you buy from the convenience store next door, it is a clear sign that freshness and stock rotation are not a priority.
To get a great shot of espresso we recommend to drink your coffee between 5 and 14 days after roasting. Coffee younger than 5 days old is too fresh and it’s still degassing (releasing CO2 that will affect the coffee extraction when brewing). On the other face of the medal, coffee older than 14 days starts to lose acidity and sweetness. Keep in mind that this is just a general guide line, sometimes, depending on the blend and depending on the brewing method that you’re using, coffee younger than 6 days and older than 14 days taste much better.
So next time you’re buying a bag of coffee, keep these things in mind and feel free to discuss coffee freshness with your barista or coffee supplier.
To all the baristas, café owners and coffee enthusiasts reading this post, I would highly recommend to keep an eye on your stock cycle - remember to always use older coffee first. If, by mistake, two bags of coffee with two different roasting date are used at the same time in the same grinder, I guarantee you that you will have inconsistency with your shots.
Why you ask? Have a look at the roasting diagram.Coffee with different roasting dates have different characteristics and because of this it needs to be extracted in different ways. As you can see from the diagram, young coffee needs a faster extraction time compared to older coffee. Extraction is the process of forcing hot water through ground coffee to extract the oils and sugars that make up the crema. Different factors can affect the quality of your extraction, including: grind, dosage/volume, tamping/pressure, temperature of water and roasting date.