Why Coffee Freshness Matters

When it comes to coffee, buying freshly roasted beans is best and will transform how you brew at home.

After roasting, coffee starts to lose its special flavours and aromas, which make up the delicious taste of your brew. So, buying fresh coffee is one of the best ways to enhance the flavour of your coffee at home.

Why does coffee lose flavour over time?

We love the taste of freshly-roasted speciality coffee. Sadly, coffee which is not stored correctly or kept for a long time loses freshness and flavour.

Coffee going stale is a result of exposure to oxygen in the air. So, the nearer to roast-date then the fresher your coffee because it will have less exposure to air. You’ll enjoy more intense flavours in your brew.

When to use coffee after roasting

If you’re brewing using an espresso machine, it’s best to allow the beans to rest from five to ten days after roasting before using your coffee. A correct extraction will produce a deliciously sweet and balanced espresso.

During roasting, carbon dioxide is naturally produced inside the bean which is slowly released (degassed) from the bean over several days.

A correct espresso extraction is produced under high pressure (9 bar) and preparing an espresso shot before the coffee has degassed will distort the extraction creating a coffee lacking sweetness.

Freshly roasted beans can be used for filter brewing after one to two days after roasting.

After that, if correctly stored, coffee will be at optimum quality up until around four weeks from roasting. In that time, you can get the best of your coffee’s flavours out through brewing.

At Union, we roast-to-order. So, when you buy coffee online with us, or through our subscription service, Coffee Club, you are only receiving the freshest roasted coffee. Order online and Union fresh roasted coffee is delivered straight to your door.

How to store coffee at home

To keep your coffee as fresh as possible, you need to protect your coffee from air, sunlight, heat, and moisture. These all will contribute to making it stale and lose flavour.

We suggest keeping your coffee in an airtight container, in a cool, dry cupboard. Our roast-to-order bags have a reusable ziplock. To reclose push the air oxygen out of the bag, and zip it tight.

Do not store your coffee in the fridge. Roasted coffee absorbs moisture from the air (hygroscopic) and will also take up surrounding aromas. The aromas and moisture levels in the fridge will react with the coffee and delicate flavours will deteriorate.

You can store your coffee in the freezer. Take out what you need for brewing and quickly roll down the bag to remove air, and replace back into the freezer before any condensation forms on the beans. You can grind from frozen, no need to thaw.

Does green (unroasted) coffee lose freshness, too?

Green coffee is the raw form of coffee beans before the irreversible physical and chemical transformation which occurs during roasting. Green coffee is more stable than roasted beans. Heat applied to coffee during roasting transforms the structure of coffee from a dense green bean to a brittle, roasted bean.

However, green coffee does lose freshness, just over a longer time period. In most coffee-producing countries, the crop is harvested during one season every year. We select our coffee from the middle of the season when the best quality is available. Our coffee is carefully dried in the sun and prepared for export. This skilful post-harvest processing ensures our coffee holds a stable level of quality for several months.

In addition, we ship our coffee as soon as possible after harvest because a lower relative humidity here in England compared to most origin countries ensures less changes in moisture levels in the green coffee. This also contributes to maintaining a consistent, stable, quality and enables us to appreciate the delicious flavours in our cup.