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A Guide to Buying the Freshest Coffee Beans

7 April 2021
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The easiest way to brew the best cup of coffee at home begins with buying the freshest beans. Having good beans is half the battle won, so here’s what you should be looking out for.

Ditch the Supermarket

multiple bags of coffee bags on a counter
Skip the supermarket – buying from a local roaster or cafe will get you the freshest beans for your coffee. Photo from Sean Benesh.

Seeking the best and freshest coffee beans? Step right away from the supermarket and head straight to a coffee roaster or your favourite cafe.

When you buy coffee beans directly from a local roaster or cafe, you are buying high-quality, freshly roasted beans that are treated with meticulous care.

This doesn’t only mean drinking better-tasting coffee, you are also supporting coffee farmers as local roasters often buy directly from small-batch coffee farms.

Learn more about how you can further support the livelihood of coffee farmers by drinking good coffee.

Only Buy Whole Beans

a coffee grinder
Buy whole coffee beans and grind them just before brewing to ensure your coffee is fresh. Featuring Dedica Conical Burr Grinder. Photo from De’Longhi.

Have you ever wondered why top-notch dining establishments grind black peppercorns straight onto your dish instead of using pre-ground black pepper? That’s because freshly ground black pepper contains flavour compounds that oxidise once it’s ground.

The same goes for coffee – freshly ground coffee contains the oils that drive those toasty and fresh flavours in coffee. That is why we don’t recommend buying pre-ground coffee (especially store-bought ones) as they have often been sitting on a shelf for weeks if not months.

Pro tip: Invest in a coffee grinder for your home and only ground coffee beans just before brewing. Here’s where you can get a reliable grinder.

Read the Label

a coffee bag with a label
Get to know your coffee beans before buying them by paying close attention to their label. Photo from Dan Smedley.

There’s an endless variety of coffee beans being produced globally, which can leave us spoilt for choice. Just like how “a picture is worth a thousand words”, the label on a coffee bag tells you everything you need to know about the coffee beans.

Reading the label will help you narrow your choices by giving you information such as the origins, blend, taste notes, or strength of the resulting brew.

Here are 10 common things you’ll find on the label and what they mean.

Check the Roast Date

If there’s one thing that tops this list, it would be checking when that bag of coffee beans was roasted. The roast date is the most important piece of information on the label that determines the freshness of coffee.

Read more about why you should care about the roasting date.

Ensure that the beans are roasted no longer than two weeks prior to purchase. A roasting date beyond that wouldn’t give you enough time to enjoy the bag of beans before they start to go stale – that’s because roasted beans have a shelf life of approximately four to five weeks!

If you can’t find the roast date, put those beans back on the shelf. More likely than not, it’s because the beans are mass-produced and aren’t high-quality beans.

Buy the Right Amount

To enjoy coffee beans at their peak freshness, plan your coffee purchase around 45-day intervals.

As the amount of coffee beans used for each cup of coffee varies for different brewing methods, we’d recommend starting with a 250g bag, which is often the standard bag size. If you drink one cup of coffee each day, the 250g bag will be sufficient for approximately 2 weeks. This ensures that you have the freshest batch of coffee beans for your daily cup of coffee.

If you are worried about the hassle, consider coffee subscription services to ensure your beans are always freshly delivered to your doorstep at your preferred frequency.

The best thing about subscription services? Most of them have a variety of flavours for you to choose from! Here are some coffee subscription services to start with.

Storing Coffee Beans

coffee beans in an opened vacuum container
Store your beans in a vacuum-sealed or airtight container and place it in a cool and dry space. Featuring the Vacuum Coffee Canister. Photo from De’Longhi.

You’ve bought the freshest coffee beans in town. What’s next? The key to retaining freshness for their entire shelf life is to store the beans correctly, in a vacuum-sealed container.

The greatest enemies of coffee beans are air, moisture, heat, and light. That is why an opaque airtight container like this will keep your coffee beans fresher for longer.

Now that you know how to track down the freshest coffee beans, it is time to learn how to choose the ideal ones for your personal palate. Here’s the perfect guide to help you select the best coffee beans that suit your taste buds.