We've had literally thousands of hits on our blog 'Coffee Grinder Adjustment - How, When and Why?' and ever since, the most common question we've been asked refers to how the grinder adjustment process changes given the age of your coffee and when is best to use it.
We know that coffee goes through a degassing process for around 10 days after roasting where the product emits carbon dioxide until it begins to stabilise. It's almost like a calming process. Does this mean it can't be used during this time? Of course it can and I encourage you to try it. More on that shortly.
There are so many opinions on all things 'coffee' so often it's best to try it yourself to see what's best for you.
I can understand people seeking out the opinions of their favourite cafe Barista, or a World Barista Champion or their local coffee roaster but to be totally honest the answer to the question is up to you.
Confused? Let me explain.
Knowing that we extract oils from ground coffee, I try and explain it like this. Imagine juicing an apple picked straight off the tree. Imagine also juicing an apple that was picked from a tree 2 weeks earlier. Obviously the fresh apple will contain more moisture or juice than the older apple. Therefore, the volume of juice and the speed at which it flows will be much greater than from the 2 week old apple.
It's the same with coffee. As the coffee beans age, the moisture or oil content is decreasing, meaning that the extraction has to be longer to achieve a similar result. How do we lengthen the extraction? By grinding your coffee finer. Put simply, it gives more time to extract as much as we possibly can from the remaining olis contained in the coffee. This is something you'll start to experience around weeks 3-4 after roasting.
You'll know when the coffee has had its day around the end of week 4. There'll be so little left to extract that the result will look thin and almost watery and the extraction will start to flicker instead of the rich looking, steady flow that we experinced whent the coffee was in its prime.
Remember, your local cafe barista will always tell you that coffee simply shouldn't be used until 10 days or later. So will the World Barista Champion who will never be made to compete with coffee that isn't at its absolute peak.
Put it this way, extracting from fresh coffee is difficult, painful and frankly, pretty annoying. The product changes by the minute making it completely unpredictable. What they may not tell you is that it's one of the best ways to learn and practice grinder adjustment. Believe me, you put a kilo of 3 day old coffee through a grinder and you'll be an expert in grinder adjustment before you reach the bottom of the bag.
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