There are many unwritten rules when drinking speciality coffee. Things like brewing with freshly ground coffee or using a higher water temperature for light roasts. One of these things we will be looking at is why it is important to let your coffee rest after it has been roasted.
Not opening up a bag of coffee that you recently bought may seem like the hardest thing to do. But it is crucial to let coffee beans that have been recently roasted rest for 1 to 2 weeks. The coffee will need time to release trapped CO2 inside the beans after roast. During this period the coffee won’t produce the best flavour or taste. But once you have allowed coffee to rest and .
Should you let coffee rest or not?
You should definitely let coffee beans rest after roast. The ideal recommendation roasters and coffee experts give is to let the coffee beans rest after roasting. This is referred to as ‘degassing’. Newly roasted coffee beans have a lot of CO2 trapped inside. The coffee beans can release up to 40% of CO2 just within 24 hours after roast. But they still have enough left inside that the coffee won’t produce those natural flavours it posses. To loosely quote Square Mile, it is like waiting for really hot food to cool down.
You can see the signs of CO2 trapped in the coffee beans when you actually brew with it. Especially at the start when you do a bloom pour you will see a lot more bubbles with the coffee bed. Blooming is just an action to pre-infuse the coffee with water to ensure the CO2. This then allows the remaining water to properly extract the natural flavours of However, if the coffee has a sour taste and high acidity then that is a indicator that the coffee requires resting.
Resting coffee is actually quite easy as you can just leave it in the bag it came in. If you look at the bag of coffee that you have then you might have noticed the valve on it. That valve is there to allow degassing without the coffee beans being exposed to air or moisture. Therefore, unless you have a proper speciality coffee storage canister, leave your coffee in the bag to rest.
Fresh vs Peak
Something I learnt is that coffee that is fresh does not mean that it is at its peak in terms of taste. I always thought it had to be as fresh as possible to enjoy it at its best. That might be true for freshly ground coffee but the story is different for freshly roasted beans, Now coffee is fresh after roasting but the peak optimum taste of the coffee will come couple of weeks down the line. So whilst the freshness of the coffee is going down the peak taste of the coffee is going up.
Now that is super interesting because for anyone the peak flavour of the coffee is the key. So to get there, the coffee requires resting. I don’t think you can say every type of coffee will be at its peak by a single fixed time. It will always depends on the coffee. For example I had a natural Ethiopian a few months back and I thought it tasted best during week 2. Then recently I had a washed Honduras which had little flavour come through up until week 3 and tasted good into week 4. So understanding when the coffee is at its peak is subjective and requires you to just taste it.
How long should you let coffee rest?
So how long should you let it rest for? Personally I like to taste coffee after a full week from roast date. A week should provide enough evidence if the coffee is good to drink or if you need to rest it a bit longer. However, there is nothing wrong in brewing up a cup before that to get a little taster. Why not, right?
One of the best coffee I tasted was a Red Honey processed Ethiopian of the Heirloom varietal. Due to ‘circumstances’ I actually brewed a cup only 3 or 4 days after roast and it was probably the best cup of coffee I ever made. This coffee stayed consistently good for couple of weeks but it was exceptionally brilliant in the first 2 weeks.
Now the above is my approach. I want to taste a little bit before deciding to see if it needs more resting. But there is no issue if you let your coffee rest up to the 14-day mark. It could be that you are going through another coffee which is a few weeks from roast date. Then it makes sense to rest the coffee that is most recently roasted. But the main thing is you can decide how long to rest it up to the 2 week period. Anything after 2 weeks then you should start tasting it to ensure you drink it at its peak.
Buying coffee online or from coffee shops?
Now it is hard to tell anyone to rest coffee if they are low on coffee. Especially when you buy coffee online and don’t get it in time before your current bean stock runs low. So you will need to do some planning before buying coffee especially from online roasters. As roasters sometimes have specific roast and shipping dates then you can think a good few days will pass before you have the coffee. It will vary from roaster to roaster on how fresh the coffee is. But other independent roasters may send you beans roasted within the week and so the coffee would have had a few or more days of rest.So you will just need to find out when the businesses roast the coffee and how many days they advise on postage.
Previously when I bought coffee directly from coffee shops, I would look at the roast date and look to buy the most recently roasted coffee. Anything over a week I used to put away thinking it’s been on the shelves too long. Obviously now I know that is a mistake as the coffee was probably reaching its peak.
The big advantage here is you can buy coffee beans to start brewing straight away because the beans have been rested. This is good for coffee shops too, because it helps them get coffee off their shelves. I have once bought a Natural Rwandan coffee 3 weeks after roast and it tasted amazing for the next 2 weeks. So don’t feel like you have to buy the most recently roasted coffee. Go for the ones roasted between a week or two and enjoy it straight away.
Letting coffee rest is key to experiencing the coffee at its peak without a doubt. But we should not let that be a fixed rule because not all coffee is the same. As stated, some coffee may only need few days of rest. Whilst others may need up to 2 weeks. It is also okay to try it earlier to see if needs more rest or not. Therefore, unless you have been told something different by the roaster I would say try the coffee around day 7 after roast to get good idea where the beans are. However, don’t blame me if you just end up finishing all in a week. That is me speaking from experience.
Let me know what your views are on resting newly roasted beans and what your approach is. Also if you need some help into buying speciality coffee, I did a little guide which you can check out here.