How Much Should I Order At A Time?
Short-ish Answer: The amount you should buy depends on how much you can consume before it gets stale, about a 3-4 weeks tops. Light and medium roasts last longer than a dark roast due to the tendency of oil on the exterior of the bean to become stale faster. If your storage is too hot or not air tight, the shelf life also shortens dramatically.
Longer Answer: Fresh coffee only stays fresh for a certain length of time. Once it comes out of the roaster, the staling process begins. Sigh! The best you can do to honor a fine bean is to consume it while it retains the majority of its flavor, and with good storage practices, that can be as long as a month.
Estimating how much you use – I read somewhere that researchers studying such things have determined that the average American family uses 12 oz. coffee each week. But that’s an average and you should go with what your household consumes, and that could increase if the coffee was noticeably better. (I would add that we in the Northwest would most likely go for multiples of 12 oz. instead.)
To keep coffee fresh while I wait to drink it, here’s what I do:
- Buy enough coffee, but not too much.
- Transfer fresh coffee (as soon as you get it) to clean canning jars or other air-tight metal or glass containers and close tightly. Plastic containers are ok, but only use the designated containers for coffee AND wash them in the top rack of the dishwasher every couple of weeks to remove old, stale oils. The objective is to keep air away from the beans and to keep the beans in a cool, dry, dark place where they encounter as few environmental contaminants as possible. Do not refrigerate as a general rule. (I’ll blog on that someday. As with most religious arguments, there are merits to both schools of thought, and you have to choose your own path, Grasshopper.)
- Drink within 10 days to 2 weeks. This is my general rule UNLESS I am purposefully resting the coffee to achieve melding of flavors. That might add another week for a few African and Yemeni coffees that are extremely wild or bright in acidity and need the time to tone down.) By the end of three weeks, the general decline in quality for most beans is noticeable to me, but perhaps others would not see this as reason to throw it out just yet. There is no hard and fast date when coffee “goes bad.” When to pull the plug on unfresh coffee? It’s your call.
- Order more so you don’t run out. In mathematical terms, that would be When to Order = # Days Shipping Time + 5. Theoretically, you should not run out. However, if you want to be sure to avoid that catastrophe, order up to a week in advance of your next needed arrival. Experience will tell. OR
- Consider subscribing to our AutoMagic Coffee Delivery Service. You choose the interval between shipments and the quantity you want. We consult with you to find out what you like in general, then either you can email us your desired coffee for a shipment, or we will choose something in line with what we think you would like. We ship it out to you until you say stop. We bill your credit card each month. Easy. If you want to set up a subscription, send us an email from the Customer Service page. We’ll be in touch.
BOTTOM LINE: I think the best advice is to buy fresh, drink fresh. Then you are spared heart-rending decisions like when to put a formerly-good coffee down.
buy fresh, drink fresh