No, this isn’t another blog extolling the physical and mental virtues of drinking coffee. This is about being a coffee snob and getting the most out of your coffee.
First off, if you don’t have a grinder, get one. You can get them for less than 20 bucks, and when you have freshly ground coffee that was recently roasted, it’s like entering a whole new world. If you haven’t done that yet, the coffee that you already know and love is probably sour and stale by comparison, and you don’t even realize it.
The #1 thing that ruins a coffee’s flavor is oxidation, and oxidation happens 10x faster once you grind the beans. Although even we offer ground bean options, we strongly, strongly, STRONGLY recommend getting whole beans for the aforementioned reason alone. If beans are ground, then they’re shipped, then they sit in your cupboard, and then it takes a month to consume them, then you’re going to have a subpar last couple weeks of your coffee tasting experience. Just like you wouldn’t cut up an apple into slices and leave it out for days while it browns, the same goes for grinding coffee.
That being said, oxidation happens one way or the other. But, just like a bunch of ice cubes melt faster than a single glacier, a glacier left out will still melt; so goes a bunch of small pieces of ground coffee versus a whole bean. If you think coffee companies are being pretentious when saying to store it in a cool, dry, even temperature place, there’s a reason. Hot air has the air molecules bouncing around faster, and hot temperatures are more likely to grow bacteria and want to grow and build a family there. If the bacteria has water and it is in a hot place? Well, dang, they’re going to a party in your mouth, and it won’t be one of those fun parties; no, it will be a party where everyone is throwing up. You don’t want that.
The other main factor is how quickly you consume the coffee after the beans have been roasted. Many of the more pretentious coffee aficionados will claim that you have 2 weeks to consume your coffee after it’s been roasted. This essentially means that if you’re not the one doing the roasting, once you factor in shipping and handling, that you have about 1 week. Although the logic holds that if coffee degrades more quickly once roasted, therefore anytime after an immediate coffee roast is automatically substandard, I tend to not notice a coffee’s flavor degrading until about 1 month later (or roughly 5 weeks post-roasting), and I even follow a somewhat snobby tasting protocol. You can buy green coffee beans and your own roaster if you want to be super picky about it, but to most people it’s not worth the hassle, and the 5 week window is plenty. Even then, although I notice the flavors aren’t quite as strong, I will still never let a coffee go to waste and typically find myself brewing it up.