This evolution has meant that new techniques and ideas are always being discovered and due to this, debate over these discoveries often rages. While we all agree debate is healthy, there are some facets of our industry that are based on fact. Talking to the 'new' breed of coffee makers is often easier than those of the 'old school'. (I use the term 'old school' with the greatest respect). As with anything, it's often easier to offer current information to a new comer than it is to change the ideas of someone who has, once or twice, been around the block.
Have you ever heard the cafe owner say... "Our coffee has to be the best. It's Italian." Or even... "We use only imported coffee. It must be the best."
It may be true in some cases, that some imported products are superior to those made locally. Shoes, handbags, clothing etc. Roasted coffee, on the other hand, is a different story. To understand why, means to understand the process coffee goes through after it has been roasted.
The key word is 'freshness'.
Coffee is a natural product. It grows on a tree and therefore, has a shelf life. This shelf life is dramatically reduced the moment the coffee has been roasted. Once coffee has been roasted it goes through a 'de-gassing' process. It emits carbon dioxide for 7-10 days before the coffee begins to settle. At about 3-4 weeks, the coffee beans are now beginning to go stale. Ground coffee begins to go stale almost immediately. It is for this reason that freshly roasted coffee will always have a roast date printed on the bag as local coffee roasters want you to know exactly when the coffee was roasted.
Imported coffee will rarely display a roast date. Quite simply, they don't want you to know when it was roasted. Instead, they will often show a 'use by' or 'best before' date. Unbelievably, this is often a date up to 12 months away. Staggering.
Imported coffee has been roasted overseas. When? Who knows? It is safe to assume that by the time the coffee has travelled across the world, arrived in Australia, passed through the proper customs control and then to distributors, and certainly by the time it's made its way to being poured from its bag into the grinder, it's weeks if not months old. I know I wouldn't drink it.
Lets talk about the coffee you purchase in the supermarket. Next time you walk down the coffee aisle, check to see if there is a roast date on any coffee bags. Check if the package has a 'one way' valve to assist in the de-gassing process.
Ponder the vacuum sealed pack of coffee. The one that guarantees the coffee stays fresh. Can this package maintain its vacuum seal while the coffee is still de-gassing or must this process be complete? One could mount an argument that the vacuum seal can only hold once the coffee has begun to go stale. Interesting thought isn't it?
Most people make a point of purchasing fresh meat, fresh fruit and vegetables and absolutely fresh dairy products.
Buy only freshly roasted coffee beans from a local roaster. Know when it was roasted and know, from the roaster, what's in the bag. There are so many local coffee roasters that can offer a fresh product. You don't have to drink stale coffee.
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The coffee industry is ever evolving and is an industry made from people who have been making coffee for decades as well as people who are new to the industry, who have decided to make 'coffee' a career choice.