Bergeri Senior Member Joined: 7 Jan 2014 Posts: 2 Location: Arizona Expertise: Just starting
Posted Tue Jan 7, 2014, 8:01pm Subject: Newbie with questions about purchasing coffee beans
I am jumping into the flavorful world of great tasting coffee and leaving the boring world of Maxwell House and my Mr.Coffee automatic drip. I started by creating a way to cold brew my coffee and just recently I purchased a used Baratza Virtuoso grinder off of craigslist for very cheap. As for brewing options, I have a french press, a glass jar I throw grounds in for my toddy brew, and an automatic drip machine at my disposal. Allow me to also explain that I am a broke college student and I am in search for cheap solutions.
Now that I have explained myself and what I have, allow me to solicit this knowledgable community for help. I have been doing a lot of reading and it seems like everyone has an opinion. The issue I want to pinpoint is the issue of bean freshness after roasting. I want to make a great cup of coffee, like the kind I get at my favorite coffee shop, to drink every morning without paying the $2.50 every morning. I have looked online and found a plethora of beans, some that I can afford and some that are way out of my league. For example, I found from a wide selection from amazon including a 5 lbs bag for around $30. With this affordability I know it comes at the cost of freshness, what I do not yet understand is how important this freshness is to a beginner. My palate is not the best (if it helps anyone discern how good/bad it is I could describe my last cup from Cartel Coffee Lab by saying that it had a slightly sour berry like taste with a sweet after-tone) but I still want a good cup.
I know this is a lot of information for a simple question and I am very grateful for any tips and advice you guys have.
TL;DR: Do I need to buy fresh beans to have a good cup of coffee or can I get away with bulk buying from the store or amazon.com and still get a great experience.
CoffeeNark Senior Member Joined: 30 Dec 2013 Posts: 34 Location: Nashville, TN Expertise: I love coffee
Posted Tue Jan 7, 2014, 8:11pm Subject: Re: Newbie with questions about purchasing coffee beans
I'm kind of like you in that I haven't experienced a wide variety of beans. I recently discovered my nearby Whole Foods Market roast in-house. Everything they have has been roasted within the last 5 days, as least that was the case when I was last there and their roaster told me they make sure nothing is more than 5 days old. I'd say they had about 20 bins of coffee beans to choose from. The best part is, you don't have to buy a full bag. It is kind of like buying from bulk coffee bins. You get as much or as little as you'd like. Just to test last week, I bought about a 1/2 lb of Sumatra beans he had just removed from the roaster and I think they were real good. I'm not crazy about their bins but they are dated so you can buy just the beans that have been roasted in the last day or two.
I've been told there are several Whole Food locations that don't do such a great job but my first experience at my location as positive. I see you are in Arizona and Whole Foods has several locations in Arizona. You might want to see if there is one near you that has an in-house roaster. Just seems a good way to try a wide range of beans in small quantities.
shawndo Senior Member Joined: 5 Jan 2010 Posts: 106 Location: NYC Expertise: I like coffee
Espresso: LM Shot Brewer Grinder: VL M3/Compak K10 Pro
Posted Tue Jan 7, 2014, 11:43pm Subject: Re: Newbie with questions about purchasing coffee beans
To put it simply, a roasted bean is like a 2-liter soda that's been opened. You can close it, but a clock has started and it will go stale. It's the mixture of CO2 and the oils that make the crema and overall body. The older the beans, the less the CO2 and you lose a lot of that.
The main idea is only buy beans that have a roast date printed on the bag and that the date is less than one week (or rather, you want to finish the bag before it is 2 weeks old)
There is something they call the "5 M's" of good espresso. And it is in descending importance. (The beans are the most important)
Miscela (Espresso Blend)
Macchina Espresso (Espresso Machine)
Mano dellíoperatore (Skill of the User)
A typical value purchase is to order 5 lbs from a place like RedBird Coffee, portion it in mason jars and freeze it. When you are ready to use it, take a jar out, let it come to room temp completely before opening, and robert is your mother's brother!
PS, I just realized I assumed incorrectly you were talking about espresso. The CO2 is also important in the non-espresso variations as well and the recommendations are the same. The beans/freshness is still the most important element.
Posted Wed Jan 8, 2014, 7:38am Subject: Re: Newbie with questions about purchasing coffee beans
I agree. Freshness is top priority for good coffee. I usually roast enough that it can be consumed in a month or less. After 2-3 weeks depending on the bean the stale taste really starts to show. If you are looking to buy online make sure shipping isn't too far or you may end up with stale coffee on arrival. Some drinkers say they are able to buy in bulk, bag seal and freeze the coffee they aren't drinking.
Posted Wed Jan 8, 2014, 10:08am Subject: Re: Newbie with questions about purchasing coffee beans
Freshness a must (no more that 3 weeks or so).
But more than that, they have to be good beans, coffee like any other product varies, pick a reputable roaster who cups and selects good coffees. Just being fresh isn't enough, the coffee has to be good and freshly roasted.
Posted Wed Jan 8, 2014, 12:17pm Subject: Re: Newbie with questions about purchasing coffee beans
Allow me to be the voice of reason here. In an effort to educate you, everyone seems to have missed the point that you are a poor college student. My advice is to buy the best that you can afford and I don't read "espresso" anywhere on the original post, which would make freshness a higher priority. If $16-24/bag (12 oz beans) every 2 weeks is going to kill your budget and leave you eating stretching ramen noodles over a few meals, raiding pot pie sales, and stretching a dozen eggs to the end of the month, by all means, get the $8 bag of coffee beans at target or walmart to find a bean that fits your current palette and budget. You have already made the biggest improvement to your coffee by getting a decent grinder.
Yes, around here, whole beans three weeks past its roast date is no longer considered fresh, but that isn't to say it won't still make a good cup of coffee. Off-the-shelf beans aren't recommended around here because ROAST date is not usually stamped on it and the "use by" date has been found to be as much as 12 months after its roast date.
CoffeeLoversMag Senior Member Joined: 10 Jan 2013 Posts: 218 Location: Seattle Expertise: I love coffee
Posted Wed Jan 29, 2014, 8:15am Subject: Re: Newbie with questions about purchasing coffee beans
We have different taste experience yet the freshness of the beans really matter. Although the variety of coffee beans is a contributing factor to the taste of coffee but freshness is very important to achieve the best taste ever. Donít tell me that fresh roasted beans taste the same after two weeks. The roasted beans begin to lose its flavor and the coffee begins to turn stale after two weeks especially if it is not keep well. Actually there is no law requiring vendors to provide roasting date, so be careful!
Did you know...? Dark roast coffees actually have less caffeine than lighter roasts due to the fact that the process of roasting burns off caffeine. www.coffeeloversmag.com/theMagazine
calblacksmith Moderator Joined: 25 Nov 2007 Posts: 7,672 Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A. Expertise: I live coffee
Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32 Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major Vac Pot: 40s era Silex Drip: Msl. Com. brewers Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Wed Jan 29, 2014, 2:52pm Subject: Re: Newbie with questions about purchasing coffee beans
Huh? Your last two posts seem to be at odds with each other! OP, just buy fresh, you need not spend huge amounts but properly roasted and fresh matters. I doubt the OP will be back to read this anyway.
In real life, my name is Wayne P. Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!
Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
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