How Much Better is Fresh Roasted Coffee?

An experience that will spoil you like no other.

Most people have never tasted truly fresh, high-quality coffee.  This may or may not surprise you, but it’s actually more challenging than you might think to get fresh coffee into your cup.

The reality is, the logistics of delivering that morning cup into your hands can be quite a lengthy and logistically challenging process.  

coffee cup and beans

Let’s take a dive into what makes that cup of coffee terrible or remarkable.  Much of it has little to do with you, and more to do with everything that occurs before arriving in your hands.  It is said that a cup of coffee can be ruined at any point from the tree all the way to the cup.  For example, if the bean during harvesting is processed poorly, fermented too long, dried too long, or shipped on a transport with cattle, all can have negative effects on the flavor of your cup.  While all of this is true to some degree, most of the noticeable difference comes in only two things.  The quality of the bean, and the freshness of the roast.  While a whole gamut of other errors can contribute to bad coffee, these two are perhaps the most noticeable.

 

Colombian coffee beans
In many countries that produce high quality coffee, such as the oft-heard Colombia, Kenya, and Sumatra… the really good coffees, the coffees that the country partially depends on for their GDP, usually gets exported to countries that are willing to pay a premium for it.  Some of this left over coffee not exported is either consumed internally inside that country, or in some cases sold very cheaply to large coffee roasters. (Think about some of the $3 coffees in gallon sized cans).

If you’re buying coffees for less than $5 a pound at the supermarket, it’s a fair bet that those coffees are lower grade coffees than what you could potentially purchase.  After all, a high quality grade 1 or 2 coffee could cost the roaster $2-$4 per pound in its raw state.  Imagine for a moment that if high-quality coffee costs $2-$4 a pound before it’s even processed, anyone who sells coffee for $-$5 a pound is either selling you really bad coffee, or is making mere pennies on it.  These types of coffees are commonly available in supermarkets, and is going to be not a great coffee to begin with

Some very popular national brands will purchase very cheap coffee in the country of origin for pennies on the dollar.  This coffee has loads of visible defects in it, from dead beans, to bits of wood and even a few beans that have been sampled by insects.  Yep, faithful reader and fellow coffee drinker, insects… “Hey, don’t they clean that up?”  Yes, for the most part, it’s true the coffee is sanitized to the best degree possible.  

The important part, is that most of this kind of coffee is then roasted darkly, and the result is a bitter concoction, with millions in advertising thrown behind it to convince you that this coffee is the best you can buy.  I’m not naming names here, but you know who I mean if you think about it for just a moment.  This is our first challenge to overcome.  Getting high-quality coffee in the first place.

So while our first challenge it getting a high quality and grade of coffee, the second is freshness of roast. No matter how high the quality of a coffee, any freshly roasted coffee will begin to deteriorate in freshness and begin going stale after it’s roasted.  

Coffee hits peak freshness only 24-48 hours after the roast.  This, primarily is why it's so hard to get coffee that's fresh and why so few have actually tasted it. 

holding low quality coffee beans
Example of poor quality coffee

After the 48 hour mark, coffee begins a slow slide to staleness by about the 2-3 month mark.  Many of the coffees at the supermarket were roasted, in many cases, even 6 months previous.  So, it’s really difficult to get a fresh roasted coffee at the local super market.  

So where, pray-tell can you get a perfectly roasted, high-quality, fresh cup of coffee?  There are a few ways to get this seemingly impossible feat into your cup.  At RK Drums, we teach people to roast their own coffee, and it’s a lot easier than you think.  A great many of our customers actually roast their own coffee right at home, and just for themselves and their family.  You can too!  Contact us with the chat at lower right, call us, or email us to ask how we might help you roast your own fresh coffee right at home!

We love to promote our customers and roasters.  If you’d like to purchase a fresh, high quality coffee from one of our roasters, you can one at the Coffee Roasters Directory.  This is where we highlight roasters who excel at putting high-quality, fresh-roasted coffee into your hands, ideally within 96 hours.

So how much better is fresh coffee?

Most people when they taste fresh coffee realize it’s good.  What you may notice is that the characteristic “bitterness” that so many people associate with black coffee is curiously absent.  The coffee is smooth, and it may have delicate flavors and aromas that are quite pleasing. In fact, coffee connoisseurs enjoy comparing the nuances and delightfulness of different cups of black coffee in a similar way wine connoisseurs enjoy tasting different wines.

Once you then return to your old coffee, you’ll realize for, perhaps, the first time what bad coffee tastes like.  It’s a bit like tasting that exquisite Swiss chocolate and then following it up with a Hershey’s Kiss.  No offense to the Kiss, but it’s not made to be the highest grade of chocolate you can find.  Once you try that fresh coffee it’s tough to go back. 

young woman smelling black coffee

Fresh, high quality coffee can not only change your perceptions on coffee, but it’s surprising how many people say “I don’t like coffee.” only because they’ve only tasted the bad stuff.  Rightfully so, since truly fresh and quality coffees are more challenging to find.  Give it a try some time.  Contact one of our roasters in the directory and order up some truly fresh roast.  Ask them what they recommend.  

If you do get your hands on fresh coffee, remember that brewing it correctly is equally important.  Be sure to see our article on brewing coffee with the Chemex and French Press.  These are inexpensive and can be had for a few dollars at your local box store.

If you do get your hands on fresh coffee, remember that brewing it correctly is equally important. Two of the best options are some of the simplest, in terms of equipment required. The Chemex method is essentially a pour-over method, but it uses a glass container and a steel filter, so as not to pull through tastes acquired from a paper filter. The French Press method allows the coffee to soak freely while brewing, and is then pressed out of the water once the brew is complete.

Chemex

man standing with the chemex on the table

French Press

french press
If you’re looking for a fun new hobby, and perhaps with a little effort maybe even your next side-hustle or new career, try roasting your own coffee.  Next you can create your own brand and start making money with fresh roasted coffee.  Remember, RK Drums trains and coaches new coffee roasters daily.  We find that a typical 60-70% of people come back begging for more once they’ve tasted your very own fresh roast.  Who knows, yours could even be the next brand on the store shelf at your local supermarket!  Oh, but do us all a favor and figure out how to deliver it fresh!  Anyway, at the end of it all, they say “You’ll only regret the things you didn’t do.”

Author: Shane Lewis

Shane is the founder of the green coffee exporter Old Spanish Main, Ltda. in Bogotá, Colombia, having practiced under the renowned grader & cupper Lelly Espitia. He is a cultivator of a #14 Colombian Cup of Excellence coffee. Shane currently designs & manufactures coffee, cacao & grain roasters with RK Drums.

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