Roast dates are one of the most confusing things when it comes to coffee, and that’s because there’s not one clear answer—it depends on other factors, like how you’re brewing your coffee, or how long your bag of beans is going to last. Asking the question, “What roast date should I buy?” ends up bringing more questions. Still, here are general guidelines to follow to make sure you’re buying the best roast date for your home brewing needs.
Barista Champion Heather Perry answers common roast date questions for home brewers:
If you’re drinking a bag of coffee/week:
And you’re mostly using a coffee maker, maybe making a pour over every now and then, you’re going to get delicious coffee anywhere from 2 days after roast to 21 days after roast.
Does that mean that I shouldn’t drink coffee after 21 days?
No! In my house, I actually only drink coffee that’s over 21 days old, and that’s because I’m too busy drinking the bags they’re pulling off the shelf at Klatch stores.
So what’s the advantage of buying fresher roasted coffee?
It’s more about when you open the bag: once you open that bag, your coffee is exposed to air. As with most things trying to stay fresh, air is the enemy! Read more about this in our coffee bloom blog.
Once you open your bag of coffee, you realistically want to drink it within 5 to 7 days. It will still be good after those seven days, but you might lose some of those lighter notes, some of the complexity that you were looking forward to.
The fresher you buy the coffee, the longer that bag can stay open. So if you stop by your local Klatch to buy coffee and happen to get lucky and get the bag that was roasted yesterday, you can brew it now and it will hold easily for a week.
If you come in and buy a bag that’s 20 days old, you can open that bag and for the first 3 or 4 days, it’s going to be at its peak of flavor for those days.
So, what’s the takeaway?
When it comes to buying coffee to brew at home, fresh is great, but that’s not the only decision. If I walked in and saw a bag that I really wanted that was 20 days old, or a bag that I was thinking about that was 2 days old, I would still choose the one that I really wanted.
More important than buying 2 days vs 2 weeks is making sure you’re grinding coffee right before brewing, a fresh grind will have a much bigger impact on flavor.
What about home espresso?
Espresso is a little bit different, because it needs a little more time to “rest” after roasting. You want to make sure that your coffee is at least six to seven days old before you use it. This will bring out a more consistent and well-rounded flavor. When I competed in the World Barista Championships, my coffee was 9 days old. I’ve competed with people who used 30 day old coffee. So if you’re ordering online, don’t worry about paying for expedited shipping. Just sit back, wait for the coffee to arrive, and enjoy our signature Peak of Flavor coffee!
The other thing I will say for espresso is that if you’re using a darker roast, you’re probably going to get really good results within that 5 to 10 day range. For lighter roasts, you want to let it rest longer.
Something like our Organic House Espresso, I’d recommend 5-10 days. For House or Belle, I’d go 8-15 days. For WBC, I would go 10+. And if I was using maybe like a single shot, I might even go longer and try it again.
Really settle down and develop and create that sweetness for an unforgettable shot.