We hear these questions a lot. Which roasts have the most caffeine? Should espresso blends only be used to make espressos? If stored properly, how long can roasted coffee last? We asked our resident barista and roaster, Mar, to answer some of your frequently asked questions as well as debunk some myths.

What happens during the coffee roasting process?

Mar: During the coffee roasting process, the green coffee is essentially being cooked in order to bring out the natural sugars and acidity in the bean. If you think about onions and how they caramelize when cooked slowly and crisp up and burn when cooked fast, we can make the assumption that coffee will act in a similar way because it is an agricultural product going through a change due to applied heat. So in simple terms we can say during roasting, a green bean turns brown, but in a more nuanced way, applied heat can bring out the desirable qualities of the coffee and create a product that is able to be brewed into a lovely beverage. Green coffee on its own is the seed of a fruit and is too dense to grind and would not produce a desired brew! 

How long does it take to roast a coffee?

Mar: Roast of the coffee depends on the roast approach of the roaster, the density of the coffee, and how the coffee is affected by heat. On average, a roast can range between seven and fourteen minutes really depending on the approach.

Do different roasts determine how much caffeine a coffee has?

Mar: This is a common misconception! Caffeine is not a very volatile compound and remains relatively steady throughout the roasting process. That being said, lighter roasted coffees are typically denser than darker roasted coffee so, by volume, lighter roasted coffees may have more caffeine, but that’s only due to a technicality and differences in mass.

Should espresso blends only be used to make espressos?

Mar: You can brew coffee in any way you want! Espresso blends may have the intent of being used for a classic espresso profile, something round, nutty, and full bodied, but we aren’t limited to use just espresso blends for espresso. Have fun! Play around with different coffees for different brew methods.

How do you store roasted coffee properly?

Mar: Ideally roasted coffee does well in cool and dark environments. If you have a retail bag with a 1-way valve, as long as it is properly sealed, your coffee will last for a while. If you have the budget for other storage options, opaque airtight containers are the best options to keep your coffee fresh for longer! If you want to get really fancy you could also vacuum seal whole beans and freeze them for months (or years).

If stored properly, how long can roasted coffee last?

Mar: Roasted whole bean coffee actually has a really long shelf life! If it’s not an oily coffee (oily coffee can go rancid), it can last for a few months or up to a year or two. Over time, coffee loses its aromatic qualities, so it may not be the same intensity as a fresh bag, but it will still taste good. Something I like to do is brewing a cup of coffee when it is fresh and brewing the same beans months later to see how it changes over time, some coffee companies even recommend letting lighter roasts rest for up to a month before the optimal taste!