Last Updated on June 27, 2023 by Barry Gray
When I first fell in love with coffee as a child, I had no idea as to the complexities that can accompany the drink. I thought coffee beans were roasted, you would ground them down, and then you could use those coffee grinds over an extended period.
But to get the best coffee out there, it’s not actually like that.
Instead, there are various time limits, and one limit is how long coffee should rest for after roasting before you can grind it down and use it. So, how long is that time?
Resting time for coffee after roasting can vary depending on both the roasting process and the bean. Some people believe you can rest it for a few hours. Still, I suggest a minimum of a day, while others argue you should rest the beans for up to seven days to get maximum flavor.
So what I’ve already shown here is that this entire concept of resting coffee beans after roasting is more complex than people imagine. There is no one concrete answer for us to follow.
With those complexities in mind, let me try to make it easier to understand.
What Does Roasting Do to Coffee Beans?
Roasting completely changes coffee beans. I wish you could hold green coffee beans in your hand and then compare it to the roasted version.
I promise that would help you see the roasting process in a completely new light.
Basically, when coffee beans are being roasted, it’s similar to the concept of combustion.
The roasting process sucks out the moisture and water in the beans to give us a finished product that is capable of being ground down.
But that’s not all that happens, and it’s a mistake most beginner roasters will make.
You see, after that initial process where the moisture is drawn out of the beans, part of the combustion and roasting process continues long after the beans have been removed from the roaster.
But to really understand what’s going on, let me walk you through the different changes that occur in coffee beans.
How do Coffee Beans Physically Change Via Roasting?
I think this is the most obvious change. Your coffee beans will change from this pale green color to something that can range from light brown through to a dark brown.
The depth of color depends on the roasting time, so dark roasts mean darker beans, while the same applies to light roasts and the color of those beans.
But the color change is not the only thing you will notice after roasting.
If possible, hold some raw coffee beans in your hand and then hold some roasted coffee beans in your other hand. You will immediately notice there’s a difference in the weight, and that’s something else that happens due to roasting.
But then, it’s not much of a surprise. After all, the roasting process removes moisture content, so that will automatically reduce the weight.
Yet it does another thing. It makes the bean more porous, and that’s what we want.
Being more porous allows the oils to seep out of the bean resulting in a richer coffee packed full of flavor. However, this only happens because of chemical changes that occur in the beans, and those changes take time to evolve, which is why you need to leave beans alone after roasting.
Chemical Changes in Coffee Beans
I don’t mean this to effectively freak people out, as there’s nothing to worry about regarding chemical changes.
The heat breaks down chemicals in the bean, which then releases more aroma and flavor. That’s why darker roasts tend to come with more of a richness and smoothness to them than a light roast.
Amino acids and sugars in the coffee are broken down by the heat. They change and develop, so the key is knowing when the beans are roasted or you will produce beans with a different flavor than anticipated.
Why Should You Rest Coffee After Roasting?
I know some people will be reading this and wondering why you need to rest coffee after the roasting process in the first place. So, I’ll explain.
The different aromas and flavors contained within coffee take some time to develop, even after roasting. If you roasted coffee beans and immediately ground them down and made coffee, it wouldn’t taste as good as it should.
Turning those green coffee beans into something we can use to make coffee takes time. The roasting process kickstarts different chemical processes that have to develop in order to enhance your coffee experience.
This can only be achieved with resting.
The Oils in the Beans
If I can talk about the oils in the beans in light of this idea of resting. I think it will help you better understand why there’s a need to leave the beans alone for some time before you think about using them to make coffee.
The oils in coffee beans are held deep within the bean. The roasting process helps to draw out that oil as the roasting part takes out the moisture from the bean.
But the oil takes time to make its way out of the heart of the bean, and the oil does make a huge difference to the taste and flavor of the coffee bean.
Won’t Allowing Coffee to Rest Lead to it Becoming Stale?
I feel this is an important question to answer. After all, it’s known that coffee will begin to deteriorate after the roasting process.
However, there’s a good chemical reason as to why you should leave your beans to rest after the roasting process has been completed.
I see the main reason is linked to the production of carbon dioxide in the bean after roasting. This is produced as a direct result of amino acids and sugars in the bean having been broken down during the roasting.
Those amino acids and sugars would certainly taint your brew if you went ahead and decided to grind down some beans immediately after roasting. You would not get a true reflection of what the coffee was supposed to taste like in this instance.
But I admit there’s a fine line that you don’t want to cross here.
You need to give your coffee this resting time, but wait too long, and you will miss out on the amazing fresh taste that should come with those beans.
However, waiting a few days will not lead to you experiencing that staleness in your beans.
How Long Should You Rest Your Coffee Beans?
I hinted earlier on that this is not an exact science, and it can be difficult to know exactly how long to allow your coffee beans to rest.
However, I do see there is a minimum time you should leave them for after roasting.
For me, the resting time should be a minimum of four days. I know it’s difficult to give a precise answer as I’ve come across some individuals stating they leave their beans to rest for 14 days.
However, I feel that’s too long, and you are certainly running into that time period where things could be starting to go stale.
Yet, don’t worry if you have left the beans to rest for seven days, as that is still within the time frame of the beans developing before they start to go stale.
How Do You Store Roasted Coffee Effectively?
But let’s say you have roasted your coffee beans. After that, you have another problem: storing the roasted beans.
So, why is this a problem? Well, it’s because of the problem you have with oxygen and coffee beans, as they do not get on with one another.
If you store your coffee beans ineffectively, you can expect them to begin to lose their flavor and aroma after a few days.
Store them in the correct way, and you will see how they can last for weeks before some of their freshness falls away.
But don’t stress. I have a few tips here to help you with this storage issue.
- Use a container that is covered. This restricts light from penetrating through, leading to it speeding up the degradation process.
- Allow carbon dioxide to escape. It would help if you did this via a vent that stops oxygen from getting in. Carbon dioxide reacts with the beans.
- The coffee needs to be cool before you store it away, so be patient
- Keep it out of the freezer. It won’t help the beans
- Consider storing it in the fridge
- Don’t roast too many beans at the one time. It saves you from having to try to store too much at once.
The main thing is to keep light and oxygen away from the roast. You will only encourage the beans to lose some of their freshness, and nobody wants that to happen.
My Recap on Drinking Coffee After Roasting
I’ve covered a number of points regarding how long you should rest coffee after roasting. Still, I understand it can be challenging to remember everything.
So, here’s my list of the key points that stand out.
- Resting the coffee allows the flavors and aromas to develop
- It allows the oils in the beans to come out after roasting
- Be aware of the resting time due to beans going stale
- Rest for a minimum of four days
- Seven days’ rest will still be fine
This concept of resting coffee beans is something I highly recommend. If you don’t do it after roasting, then expect a poor coffee that fails to hit the mark.
Let’s face it, who would want to do that?
If you plan on roasting your own coffee beans, then I suggest leaving your freshly roasted coffee beans to rest for around four days before using them.
This four day period should allow any bean to develop enough of its taste and flavor, resulting in a superior coffee that you will love.
While some beans can produce stunning flavor after an hour of roasting, they are more unusual, and there’s less chance of that happening to you. For that reason, I’d leave them for several days to ensure you are not left feeling disappointed.