Where do you buy your coffee? That is a question that can be answered 25 different ways depending on if you are on a street corner where you will find people at coffee shops, or in a retail outlet such as a mall where people will answer with a retail store in mind. This article will discuss the latter and speak about the best way to get the freshest coffee you can find as internet shopping is gaining momentum over retail stores nation wide.
From a coffee roaster’s standpoint, I would freshly roast each cup as I drink it. Keep that perspective in mind as you read on. Coffee is a fruit to begin with, then it is harvested and dried to specific moisture contents before exportation. This is done so the coffee achieves it’s optimum flavor upon being roasted. Too much moisture, and it takes too long to roast and it will take the sugars too long to break down as they should, leaving a “grassy” taste in your cup. Too dry and it will char too quickly in the roaster, giving it a burnt taste. Here is more specific information from The Coffee Guide regarding moisture content. In point, freshness and quality matter before the flame ignites.
This is a factor in how you should answer the question “where do you buy your coffee?”. Reason being, larger roasters will sometimes source coffee that was processed 2-4 years ago for a discounted price and sell at a lower cost compared to fresher crop coffees. You get what you pay for in this instance. The next thought that comes to mind should be “where & when was it roasted?”. Remember, coffee is a fruit that will be “cooked” at some point. How and where it was roasted makes a difference. Make sure the packaging CLEARLY marks a roast or expiration date.
Not to dismiss the conventional super market chains, but most consumers will grab whatever is on sale on the shelf that week only looking for a jolt to get them up in the morning, which brings the next point as discussed in an article from CBI Market Information. As discussed in point 7, “Price wars between supermarkets have been fierce during the last years. This is especially true for coffee, as coffee is one of the products that supermarkets keep at low prices (even at a loss) to attract people to the shop.”
Most Conventional Supermarket chains will often use distributors to handle their shelf products. In that, coffee will be roasted & packed in one location in let’s say in July with an assumed 12 month shelf life at packaging, and then it is sent sent to a distribution center some 2-3 states away. Then, as it goes through their rotation, it will get to the store’s shelf sometimes as late as 4-5 months after it’s been roasted. Most conventional stores will accept a remaining 6 month shelf life on dry grocery items, and place them on “sale” to move them out. No harm in that, it’s business, but still a concern regarding freshly roasted coffee. Coffee should have a 12 month shelf life at maximum. A consumer picking it up knows they will drink 12 oz of coffee well within the remaining 6 months, and given the right price, a sale is born.
Would you buy a perishable product that was packed 6 months ago? Coffee is in fact perishable.
Where do you buy your coffee?
Yes, it’s roasted and still preserved in it’s whole bean form – assuming you are not willing to buy coffee that was ground 6 months ago (please buy a grinder!) -, but coffee begins to lose it’s optimal flavor as soon as it leaves the cooling tray from the roaster. That is a fact. That being a factor, you should want to purchase your coffee from a roaster as close to the day it was roasted as possible in whole bean form. That is a major factor regarding freshly roasted coffee. Unfortunately supply lines for conventional supermarket dry grocery are not as quick and fresh as they are for meat & produce, so what is unacceptable regarding freshness becomes viewed as acceptable.
Fortunately, thanks to the advance in On-Line retail, you can enjoy coffee that was roasted no less than 3-4 days ago, and believe me there IS a difference. First, it will come to your door with no waiting in line. Second, any roaster half worth their salt will let you know when the coffee was roasted, so look at their marketing before you buy. This strategy has been a big leap for the specialty coffee industry for consumers who don’t have a local coffee roaster to purchase from. They have discovered the experience of freshly roasted coffee! We get calls asking us “What store near me can I buy your coffee?” My answer is simply “Right here.” And with a quick explanation, freshly roasted coffee is on it’s way to them the next day.
Just a few words to chew on next time someone asks you “Where do you buy your coffee?”. Now you can tell them why you prefer to purchase from a reputable coffee roaster that roasts your coffee to your specified order; including country of origin, roast profile, and a size that accommodates your needs rather than “whatever is on sale this week”.
Google “freshly roasted coffee” the next time you are looking for coffee on line & see what comes up!