f you’ve been accustomed to buying whole bean coffee from a local roaster, online, or especially from a supermarket, you will most likely notice an oily sheen on your coffee beans. This can be due to either the very dark roast level or a marker of how much time has passed since the coffee was roasted. Coffee contains some oils, and darker roasts will produce more oils. Over time these oils will migrate to the surface, and eventually the oils will oxidize and become rancid. This migration can happen immediately on a very dark roast or over the course of a couple weeks on a Full City+ or Vienna roast. Either way, we consider it a bad sign.
A comment we hear from time to time from people just beginning to enter the world of specialty-grade coffee is that it seems weak. The simplest answer is that all the ‘yuck’ flavors of over-roasted, old, low-quality beans have a higher-impact and when you take those flavors out of the cup it’s not quite as in-your-face. In fact, many people will need to re-calibrate their palates, stop to examine and investigate the flavors in the cup, as well as change how they store and brew their coffee; more on that later.
While I would like to offer some guidelines on which coffees you might want to try first, based on how many different experiences people have had with the vast variety of coffees, it’s impossible to say “If you’ve like this, try that.” I recall the days when I was buying coffee from a local coffee shop that roasted their own beans, it took some trial and error as I worked through their two dozen coffees before I found a few favorites I loved. I would encourage you to read through the descriptions of the individual coffees and just launch out. There aren’t any bad coffees here, and you might just enjoy the adventure of a coffee trip around the globe.
Based on your typical consumption, we suggest ordering no more than what you might use in 2-3 weeks. We’ll cover the idea of freezing coffee under Storage/Brewing Tips. Freshly roasted coffee has an out-gassing period of 1-4 days after roasting where CO2 is leaving the beans, which in turn allows certain roast reactions to finalize. During this period the flavors will culminate and peak, and that period of peak flavors might last several days, after which the coffee will very gradually lose some of its nuance. This is not a falling off a cliff scenario, and if you were to buy coffee at day 14, you may never realize it was going downhill. But if you take coffee on day 1, day 2, day 3 and so on (and actually pay attention to what’s in your cup) you’ll notice it improves for a few days, plateaus for several, and then slowly becomes less interesting and compelling. And that’s why we suggest a 2-3 week supply for each order.