Our Coffee vs. Other Coffee
So is the coffee we serve at CRAFT really any different than your local large coffee retailer or chain store? Well, in short, yes! The main factors are quality and freshness. We get our coffee beans delivered two times per week, only days after the raw beans have been roasted. That means it goes from green un-roasted coffee bean to your brewed cup within 1 to 2 weeks maximum. Large chains are unable to keep their stores continually stocked with coffee that fresh and some may keep bags of coffee for 6 months or more!
Our coffee is freshly roasted every week at Metric Coffee, a small local roastery in Chicago's Fulton Market (see our previous feature on them for an in-depth interview with their co-founder). Metric was also recently named Best Coffee in Illinois by Food & Wine Magazine! The team there takes a lot of care in sourcing their beans from the best small coffee growers around the world, who are focused on producing top-quality beans and doing things the right way without shortcuts. Each step in the growing and roasting process is critical to develop the correct flavors and aromas, and all of that adds up to the final product that we serve to you.
Is Stale Coffee Harmful?
Stale coffee isn't harmful for you in any way. However, it has less caffeine, less flavor, and is not as pleasant when compared to fresh coffee. Roasted coffee beans typically only stay fresh for 1 week to 10 days after being exposed to the elements. Studies have shown that coffee sitting in a bag for a month loses 70% of its flavor after being opened.
Large Retailer Model
Most large retailers roast their coffee in centralized manufacturing facilities, and combine beans from many different places to get the required quantities. They are roasting huge amounts of beans at a time, packaging the coffee, and then distributing it out to their retail stores or grocery chains. This is obviously more cost-effective per pound than small-batch roasting over multiple locales, but it makes it essentially impossible for the coffee to stay fresh within this model.
Fresh Coffee vs. Stale Coffee
So you're sipping on a brewed cup of morning 'joe, but something seems a little off. Did you use too much coffee, not enough water, a different variety of bean? Maybe your coffee is stale. So how can you tell if your coffee is no longer fresh? There are five main things to look for when determining if your beans are fresh.
- Look for a glossy appearance
- Take a smell
- Check for residue
- Check for a valve
- Ziplock Bag Test
Look for a Glossy Appearance
When coffee beans get roasted, they are exposed to intense heat that extracts moisture from the heart of the bean. This also draws out oil-like substance that coat the outside of the bean. You should see these oil like substances on your beans if they are fresh.
Take a Smell
Fresh beans should have an intense aroma. If you can't smell your beans, then they are likely stale.
Check for Residue
Pickup a handful of your beans. Is there any residue left over on your hands? Is there any residue on the lining of your bag? These beans are fresh for brewing.
Check for a Valve
When coffee beans get roasted, they release high amounts of Carbon Dioxide. If your coffee bag doesn't have a valve, then this means your coffee is not actively releasing CO2. Your beans likely aren't fresh!
Ziplock Bag Test
- Place a 1/2 cup of whole coffee beans in a ziplock bag
- Press out the remaining air before sealing
- Let sit overnight
- Check your bag in the morning
- If the bag appears to be inflated due to the release of CO2 mentioned before, then your beans are fresh. If the bag remains flat and sad, then your beans are probably past their prime.
Curious to see if you can taste the difference? Do a little self-experimentation at home with an older bag of beans and a newly purchased bag. Taste them side by side and see if you can tell which one is fresh!
If you're not sure where to buy great-tasting fresh coffee beans for your home or office, we can hook you up! At CRAFT, we sell beans by the pound and would love to share them with you!