One of the most overlooked aspects of good coffee is fresh coffee. Even once it is taken into account it is easy to misunderstand it and its value. I first realized just how important it was when I started roasting coffee at home. With a cheap roaster and no real understanding of roasting that I could not find in a thirty second search of the web I was able to produce better espresso than from any beans I could buy at any store locally.
Why would this be? Roasters can spend thousands if not millions on equipment and training and yet I was getting better results than they were. The main reason was in fact that I could not get fresh beans locally. Even though some great roasters had their beans on the shelves of my local stores the beans were never close to their prime.
Does this mean you need to start roasting at home in order to get great coffee? No, absolutely not. In fact I have gone back to buying coffee far more often than roasting it because via mail order either direct from good roasters or through a company like Roaste you can get beans shipped to you the day they are roasted. This means that unless something bizarre happens in the mail you will get the beans and be able to drink them while they are at their peak. This, of course, negates the home roaster’s biggest advantage. There are other advantages to home roasting as well as disadvantages that I will talk about in another post, but the punchline is that if you want to learn about coffee roasting is a great idea, but it is not really a way to save money especially if you take your time into account at a value.
There is probably nothing someone can do to improve the coffee they are drinking more (especially if it is espresso) than to order coffee fresh and drink it between 2 days post roast and 3 weeks post roast.
What is the exact best time to drink a roast? That partially depends on the blend and partially on personal taste and is yet another topic for future consideration.