How long can coffee last?
As you can see from above, the coffee appears to be extracted like it was made from fresh coffee. Preserving the flowery or fruity profiles is a good sign, as those notes are delicate and are the first to diminish as they deteriorate. This is almost unbelievable to many baristas or roasters.
However, the above example is not what you will get with most coffee from anywhere. In most coffees sold, a 2-year-old coffee would have appeared to have no crema and just black water, full of astringents without any aromatic profiles.
What is the expiration date of our coffee?
The expiration date on the bag of our coffee is usually 12 to 18 months away. Technically, they don’t expire but the label is more of a best-before date.
We were always told that coffee must be fresh and used within weeks. Is that correct?
The correct term should be that the coffee must not be too oxidised as that would kill off the body and aroma.
Using the interpretation that coffee must be fresh can be incorrect. As coffee should be rested for a certain period, or else the flavours are flat, as there is too much carbon dioxide in it. Despite this can create a deceiving appearance of thick crema, coffee that has not rested enough will taste flat in flavour.
The problem, as you can imagine, is if it rests too much, it’s too oxidised. If it did not rest enough, the flavours are not as great. It can be very inconsistent, so it’s a vexing condition many baristas must deal with.
Bear in mind that the above condition happens easily if the coffee is unprotected or placed in regular bags that are not well made to preserve the coffee. This accounts for most of the coffee in the market, especially among small roasters.
How do Arcaffe and Le Piantagioni manage to avoid this?
In Europe, particularly Italy, coffee solutions have been invented to deal with this.
The issues mentioned earlier can be avoided or reduced as specialised packaging for coffee is already available. The packaging keeps a constant pressurised environment which keeps the oil inside. The bags are flushed with inert air to stall oxidation from happening.
Under regulation conditions, the oil with dissolved carbon dioxide from the inside will be expelled outward during resting, causing stale coffee to have an oily surface. The specialised packaging keeps the oil pressurized within the bean and keeps the condition stable for consistent extraction.
If you are wondering why don’t roasters import the equipment and packaging material. Setting this up can cost 2 times the coffee roasting machine, which is not feasible for most small roasters.
Does all coffee maintain a thick crema?
In the video above, Dambi Uddo is a medium roast pure arabica, treated with the natural method. This can produce a good crema and body.
The lighter roast coffees we carry will inevitably have a thinner crema. This has nothing to do with the condition of the coffee. This is because lighter roasts, especially if processed with the washed method, have less oil to produce the thicker crema. When dealing with lighter roast coffee, users should accept that the amount of body can’t be great and should be appreciated as what it is without a thick crema. One trickery that can get a light roast to appear to have a thick crema is using it fresh after roast. However, this could produce a much flatter espresso as the coffee has not rested enough.