Random thought on old coffee

We are told time and again that fresh coffee is what you need to get good results and anything less is pretty much unacceptable. This line of thinking was really prevelant in a recent discussion that i read and was kind of part of at a coffee forum talking about the tastes and prices of Illy and Lavazza. The basic thought behind it was that those Italian coffees that have been sitting in a tin can or bag for a couple months were not that bad according to some posters, while other strongly disagreed.

This got me to thinking about packaged coffee of the kind of Illy and Lavazza. These coffees are packed well, sealed, nitrogen flushed to remove all oxygen that causes a coffee to go stale. So what is the real difference with this and someone freezing their coffee?

People often site coffee that you get at the grocery store months after being roasted tasting awful, but of course that coffee is going to taste awful even a few days post roast it taste awful so whether or not the coffee is stale it's not going to matter.

I just don't think people have gone to some the lengths they have with how a nitrogen flushed sealed coffee tastes like have been with freezing. A lot of this has to do with the fact that most small roasters sell their coffee intending it to be used immediately, not the long haul so it's hard to get a coffee that has been expertly roasted and sitting on a shelf for a while.

The only experience that I have ever had with a good roaster and long past prime beans sitting in a sealed bag is some Intelligentsia House Blend that I picked up on a whim at Williams and Sonoma about 3 months post roast. I had never had Intelligentsia before and even tho it was old I thought what the heck? To be honest it was pretty good coffee, taste like a high quality 'breakfest' blend. It worked in my espresso machine fine produced good crema and tasted fine as well. Unforunately, I do not have anything to compare it to, i.e. fresh House Blend.

I could be all wrong about this, but I would like to see some people that are better tasters and more knowledgable really take a look into it and do without bias. How much is old coffee bad because it was bad to begin with, and how good is good coffee old and sealed in this way?

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