When you're buying from roasters who boast purchasing only the top two percent of the crop yield, you can bet you're getting quality. But the green bean quality is only part of the process, from there, in our opinion, it needs to be ethically sourced, shipped and stored correctly, then roasted in a reasonable amount of time (these times change depending on climate... but we'll talk about that some other time). So providing the roaster has taken care up until this point, the next very important step is to roast the beans, and timing is key! Not just the time they take to roast it to perfection, but when the beans are roasted.
Your normal big box coffees that you might find in the supermarket are usually roasted en masse, large volume, then packaged, warehoused for an obscene amount of time, then shipped to your grocer where it sits for weeks or possibly even months before making it into your hands. As with any raw or cooked food product, coffee beans too lose their luster.
Enter roast-to-order, a method used primarily by micro to medium-sized roasters, mostly because their volume is low enough that they can take pride in every step of the process. Roast-to-order means exactly what it sounds like, the beans you order are still green (or raw/un-roasted) when you order them. It isn't until after your order that the coffee beans are roasted and packaged. So three days later when the coffee arrives on your doorstep, you can enjoy the fact that the coffee is fresh! Only about three days old!
So that sounds good, right? But what happens when coffee isn't as fresh? Well, as you might assume, lack of freshness directly affects taste. It also adversely affects the aroma, both brewed and un-brewed. One way to tell how fresh the coffee beans are is to look for signs of aging, like secretion of oil. A fresh roast should look dry, like a matte finish. Oily beans can also be a sign of over roasted beans (like a dark roast, gone bad), so be sure to take note of this the next time you buy coffee beans.
Keep this in mind when looking at our roaster's coffees. Their coffee represents the highest quality raw beans in the world, and their method of roast-to-order ensures that the coffee is as fresh as possible when it reaches you.
While the below picture shows a good roast and an over roast, it also gives a good idea of the oily look old coffee can have when it's been on the shelf too long.
Enjoy your coffee!