As the article opens: “Coffee is on its way to becoming the ‘new wine.’” And the best way to appreciate good coffee requires roasting green beans and grinding them up fresh. From today’s Herald Tribune in Southwest Florida: Coffee connoisseurs are roasting their own. (And also this primer on coffee beans: Did you know?)
When it comes to quality coffee, and espresso in particular, freshness counts. Espresso made with beans roasted as few as four days prior to brewing will start showing noticeable signs of decreased crema, aroma, and flavor.
This says nothing of the whole bean coffee on store shelves or packaged for retail at a Starbucks, where the roast is typically four weeks old or older. Coffee imported from overseas tends to be even older still. And despite the many freshness attempts with vacuum seals and one-way valves, nothing beats the fresh stuff. (Btw, you know the smell of coffee when you open a new vacuum-sealed bag of the stuff? That’s literally the smell of flavor escaping your beans!)
Most people haven’t had truly fresh coffee. The first time I did, and the first time I tried my own home roasts, I was astonished at all the flavors that I was previously missing. It was like being a city kid in the country for the first time, discovering the Milky Way after years of only seeing a handful of stars in the heavens under the orange haze of city lights.
I believe an emphasis on fresh roasting is a trend that will continue, as notable artisan roasters such as Blue Bottle Coffee‘s James Freeman set a new bar for freshness by boldly stamping the roasting dates on their bags of the stuff. But it’s not a market for everyone: it can be costly, messy, take up precious space, and not everyone cares about the difference in the final product. If we are to make worthy parallels to wine, Turning Leaf and Manischewitz still do a great deal of volume business.
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