Should coffee be as fresh as sushi? -
Yesterday I got a question from one of our costumers comparing the freshness of sushi and coffee. I really thought it was an interesting comparison since to me there is no doubt that sushi should be as fresh as practically possible and with coffee there seemes to be different opinions regarding freshness.
In Denmark I believe on the one hand that most coffee sold claims to be good for 2 years (even though it is ground) and on the other hand we also have some mikroroasters claiming that the freshness of coffee is the ultimate quality criteria (but usually they only refer freshness to the freshness of roast not the freshness since harvest or the freshness of the coffee flavour it self). While the first of course has nothing to do with good flavours the second seemes to be the ‘sushi-thought’ (I am sure that sushi chefs could teach me that there also are a lot more to quality of sushi than freshness even though it is fundamental).
Our approach to freshness is close to the sushi-thought. Nevertheless our tests of freshness related to espresso has learned us that our blend is actually best 16-18 days after roasting (similar to what we used for Klaus WBC espresso) ! At this time most of the CO2 formed during roasting has degassed and flavours seemes to have settled to a point where the sweetness, oily mouthfeel and marcipan notes is extremely clear. It is our experience that when the espresso is rested this short period of time the innner qualities of the beans steps forward. Before this the aroma of roasting seemes to cover up many nuances and sometimes making different coffees taste more similar. But when they have rested (much like when coffee cools down during a cupping) the inner quality of the beans shines through – poor quality green beans or poor roasting will be obvious whereas good beans will show their more complex qualities.
Of course if the time since roasting is too long the flavours starts disappearing again. Therefore we set the ‘best before’ date to 6 weeks after roasting on our espresso – which of course only is valid since we pack the coffee on nitrogen flushed airtight valvebags right after roasting.
We will never send out beans roasted longer ago than last week to make sure that our customers will have the coffee at home well in time before it peaks!