Resting Your Coffee
I was thinking about the concept of “resting” coffee this morning as I was drinking a cup of our new Panama, Boquete. The coffee was brewed while was still warm from the roaster. As with all things coffee I am a firm believer in giving it a minute, never rushing any aspect of the process. Coffee this fresh will generally have some harsh characters that settle down after a few hours. That being said, there are some wonderful characters that can settle down as well. So, what is my take on resting?
1) Coffee, during the roasting process builds up carbon dioxide in little chambers inside the bean, you see the effect of this, the bloom, when you brew your coffee. The CO2 slowly dissipates over time. This CO2 can inhibit extraction when the coffee is very fresh causing a “less than” cup of brew. You can take steps to help overcome the inhibiting nature of the CO2 simply by pre-infusing the coffee grounds with a bit of off boiled water. This step allow the coffee to off-gas prior to brewing the coffee. Yes, this is a step in the brewing process and as soon as the water comes into contact with the coffee the brewing process begins.
2) Over the course of the first few days many changes will occur in the freshly roasted coffee. The highly volatile flavor compounds will begin to breakdown and dissipate, other flavor components will mature and the off-gassing will continue. Think about this, as the coffee rests it gives off aromas, these aromas would have been part of the flavor in the cup if you had brewed the coffee right then. So, as the coffee gives off aroma it is also giving off flavor. Again, some of these flavors will be detractors from the coffee drinking experience as well as some being enhancers.
3) Coffee is ever-changing, it will be different from day to day even pot to pot; there are so many factors that affect the brew in your cup. Then there is the pairing aspect of coffee, what are you eating or drinking with your cup, if anything?
4) Really, I hold the opinion that questing for the perfect cup is a process that involves all aspects of coffee from seedling to cup. Furthermore, what is perfect for one may not be perfect for another. Generally speaking, coffee hits its overall peak at about 3-4 days after roast. However, it will lose 100% of its most volatile flavor components before that. My advice: Don’t worry about resting the coffee, know that it is an ever-changing thing and it will be different tomorrow than it was today.