Last Updated on November 21, 2021 by John Moretti
Why doesn’t the coffee you brew at home taste as good as the one at the coffee shop across the street?
But, don’t worry. If your roast lacks those subtle undertones or layered flavor palette, chances are you’re either brewing it too fast or not fast enough. One critical mistake beginners make is rushing from roasting to brewing without a moment’s pause.
Once you’ve roasted your coffee, it needs to rest before you get to brewing. But, of course, if you rest it for too long, it won’t taste as good.
So, how long after roasting coffee can you drink it? To properly understand how the brewing process works, you need to first learn the basics of roasting and how it leads to a perfectly balanced coffee brew. It might sound complicated, but this guide will tell you all you need to know about home roasting and brewing.
How Does Roasting Change Coffee?
First things first – why do you even roast coffee? Why not brew it straight away? The answer to these questions lies in the mechanics of roasting.
At its core, the roasting process is no different from combustion. Stable green coffee beans are heated at 450℉ or 232℃, and the excess moisture is sucked out of them. But the mistake beginner roasters make is thinking that this is where the combustion ends. That’s simply not the case.
In reality, it takes days for this process to be completed. Just like you need to rest your dough before baking bread, coffee needs to rest as well. If you don’t rest, your dough won’t rise, and you won’t get the distinct, layered flavor from your coffee. The basic principle is the same; all good things to those who wait.
So, how can you tell if the process has worked?
The most obvious thing you’ll observe is the change in color as the raw green bean turns to a rich brown we all know and love. Another thing you’ll notice is the weight of the coffee. After it loses a significant amount of water content, the roast becomes lighter and more porous.
This in turn makes the bean become more soluble, making it easier to extract all of its layered flavors.
While the visual change is the most apparent, the chemical evolution plays a huge role in giving roasted coffee its distinctive flavor. Throughout the process, the oils that are at the center of the seed move towards the surface. Allowing the roast time to rest lets these flavors become fully-fledged out and makes brewing easier. It would be a shame to sacrifice flavor in haste.
Freshness and Peak Flavor
That brings us to the next puzzle. Resting your roast gives it time to reach its peak flavor, but if you wait too long, it might end up losing its freshness. So, how can you achieve that perfect balance?
When you roast your coffee, it breaks down all the amino acids and sugars into carbon dioxide. Since you don’t want these gases to interfere with your brewing, it is best to let it sit for a few days. Once the gases are released, your coffee is ready to brew.
The downside to leaving it too long is that once the oils in the roasted beans come to the surface, they begin to oxidize. Hence, the best time to brew your roast is once it stops releasing carbon dioxide.
How Long Does Coffee Need to Be Rested?
The best coffee is one that has lost all of its negative combustion taste and has achieved the peak flavor level. Expert roasters will know exactly when to brew their beans. But, if you’re new to the world of coffee, you may need a little help. So, how many days do you rest your coffee?
While there is no exact mathematical formula, a minimum four-day wait on your part is recommended. Depending on the type of bean, this ideal time range can go up to 15 days. If you don’t know the specifics regarding your coffee type, you can play it safe by waiting for around 7 days. Feel free to brew your roast after your week is up.
How to Properly Store Roasted Coffee?
Store your coffee well, and it can last you months. Treat it poorly and it may go bad in just a few days.
Ideally, you want your roast to stay fresh for at least 2 to 3 weeks. After that, you may lose aroma, and it may not taste as good, but you can still drink it for several months.
Tips for Proper Storage
- Store your roast in a covered container that limits its exposure to dust and contaminants but allows carbon dioxide to escape.
- Wait for the roast to cool down before you store it.
- The ideal storage space is an area that is cool and dry. Rapid temperature changes, direct exposure to sunlight, and high humidity will ruin your roast. Keeping it in your fridge is a good idea, but storing it in the freezer is not.
- Plan and schedule your roasts based on the amount of coffee you’ll need. If you’re a small business, leave some margin for error as you don’t want your supply to go short. This will keep your brew fresh and help maintain quality.
A common mistake homebrewers make is freezing excess roast. While it may keep your coffee from going bad, it will also severely dehydrate your roast, not to mention the effects of condensation. Once you freeze your coffee, defrost it, bring it to room temperature, and refreeze it, else you’ll end up sucking all the flavor out of it.
The best container choice for storing your roast is coffee bags and specialized containers. These are professional quality sets that are designed to allow an optimum release of carbon dioxide while preventing excess entry of oxygen into the roast.
As a startup, quality control and flavor consistency will be your biggest concern. Invest in a set when you’re starting out.
All Coffee is Different
And finally, the time it takes for roasted coffee to be fit for brewing isn’t the same. The time it takes for the flavor to develop depends on the type of coffee you’re using; each blend has different properties.
So everything from roasting time to resting time can vary depending on the type of coffee you use. It also depends on how you choose to brew your coffee. Whether you’re making an espresso or cold brew, you’ll have to alter the resting time of your coffee accordingly.
There’s no one size fits all strategy when it comes to brewing coffee. There’s a lot of trial and error that goes into it.
Ideally, you should start off with one flavor and tweak it till you have the perfect recipe. Remember, you only need one roast to start a business, so don’t spread yourself thin. Think about it systematically and try shifting the variables to see what works. Once you have the magic formula, it’ll fly off the shelves.