How to improve the flavor of old coffee

It has happened to all of us at some point that we bought more coffee than we consume, and it ends up aging. Depending on the bean, the type of roast, and the extraction method, the optimal time to consume this coffee after roasting is between the first and fifth week.

But can you enjoy coffee that’s more than 5 weeks old?

Coffee that has passed more than 5 weeks after roasting will have lost practically all of its aroma and flavor. The first thing you should do is avoid getting into this situation, but if you already have aged coffee on your hands, you can make some changes that will allow you to extract more flavor from this coffee.

How to prevent coffee from getting old

At first glance, it seems easy to prevent coffee from aging before we consume it; however, there are some factors that go unnoticed, and you should pay close attention to them.

Follow these tips as a rule before buying your coffee, and you’ll avoid having to drink coffee that has been roasted many months ago.

Pay attention to the roasting date, not the expiry date

All food products we buy have a production date and an expiry date. But if you think about it, we usually focus on the expiry date instead of the production date. In coffee, the date you should pay attention to is the roasting date.

If you start paying attention to the roasting date, you probably won’t buy coffee in supermarkets anymore, as these coffees can sit there for years. Remember that coffee reaches its optimal moment just one or two weeks after roasting.

Buy coffee in small quantities or freeze it

I never recommend buying coffee in large quantities precisely because we want it to be as fresh as possible after the first few days of degassing.

Suppose you want to buy a lot of coffee because you want to take advantage of a shipping discount or a special offer. If you’re sure you won’t consume it before it gets old, you can freeze it.

Buy whole bean coffee instead of ground coffee

When coffee is in whole bean form, it preserves much better than ground coffee after its roasting date. That’s why I never recommend buying ground coffee since flavors and aromas are lost very quickly.

And if you’ve read this blog before, you’ll know that I always recommend investing in a good grinder as your first step if you want to get started in the world of coffee. A grinder will help you achieve high-quality brews at home.

Buy light roast coffees instead of dark roasts

A dark roast coffee, which undergoes significant degradation during the roasting process, oxidizes much faster than a light roast. Thus, a light roast coffee will withstand the passage of months much better than a dark roast, preserving some aroma and flavors.

On the contrary, a dark roast coffee can feel stale in a few months, as volatile compounds of flavor and aroma are lost more easily.

Roasting levels
Roasting levels

How to prepare and get the best out of old coffee

If you have coffee that’s several months old, you don’t have to throw it away. While it will have oxidized too much and its aroma and flavor will have faded, there are methods and adjustments that will allow you to get the best out of those beans.

When preparing this coffee, to get a better result, you should first choose the extraction method. I would recommend one of immersion such as Aeropress, French press, or siphon.

This is because when coffee is old and oxidized, it tends to create more channels during extraction, resulting in uneven extraction. That’s why I wouldn’t recommend a drip method like Chemex, percolation, or espresso.

Aside from the preparation method, we can increase three variables to achieve greater extraction. Of course, it won’t be the same as when the coffee is super fresh, but we’ll be able to get a better result:

Adjust the grind finer

If you have a grinder at home and can adjust the grind to get a slightly finer ground coffee, you’ll be able to extract more flavors. With a finer grind, you can get the water to extract more flavors.

Grinds finer than usual
Grinds finer than usual

Increase the coffee dose

If you want to extract a bit more flavor from the coffee, you should slightly increase the coffee dose you use by 10 to 15%. For example, if you use a dose of 14 grams, you should try 16 grams this time.

Keep in mind that you should “play” with these adjustments, as if you’ve ground finer and also increased the amount of coffee, you could get even worse results than expected before the adjustment.

Increase the water temperature

As mentioned before, you can try increasing the water temperature gradually to extract more flavor from the aged beans. You should do this slowly and be careful if combining it with any of the previous adjustments.

If you increase the temperature too much, you could end up with the opposite result desired, extracting a much more acidic and stale coffee.

Written by Pablo Barrantes Nevado
I am Pablo Barrantes, a coffee lover. I decided to start this website to solve all the doubts that arise every day when preparing our favorite drink: coffee. I am an industrial engineer by profession, but I have worked in coffee shops for many years, where I have learned all the secrets about coffee machines and coffee. My passion for coffee has led me to investigate and study beyond the obvious, and thanks to this, I can offer solutions and give news about coffee and coffee makers. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I research, document and write here.

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