Often, in the dark and aromatic corners of many a roastery, there erupts a lively debate over exactly how long a particular coffee should ‘rest’ after roasting before being used. While a clear rationale exists for letting newly roasted beans de-gas (let out their excess carbon dioxide gas) for between 3 and 14 days before use, many of us over-eager roasters simply can’t leave a good batch alone for its ideal resting period, and find ourselves poking around in it much earlier, with varying results.
As I write I’m sipping an espresso made with a lovely single origin bean that we got from the Altura Lavado estate in Cuba and roasted (lovingly) just 13 hours ago. While playing with a new grinder we’ve just bought my curiosity got the better of me and I ground up a tiny bit of the resting batch, made a cup and – by my curly red beard – it’s good! Complex caramels, stewed fruits and a unique, rich, desirable texture … clearly very young but with all the flavours already there and even somewhat interestingly muddled up.
When an experiment yields something this interesting, I’m given to taking pause, setting the accepted logic aside and pondering the work anew for a spell. Now that I think about it … why doesn’t the broader coffeesphere use shorter resting periods as a flavour differentiator? I mean, we pay top dollar for coffee beans eaten and then pooped out by cute little asian tree cats because they taste ‘different’, so maybe there’s also room in the market for the grassy, nutty, sharper tones of less-rested beans, which are incidentally also higher in antioxidants since these only dissipate more the longer a coffee rests.
Hmmm. Well, first, many baristas would need to get comfortable handling the faster-blonding extraction of espressos made using gassy beans. Also, fancier machines with manual volume and pressure controls (paddles) might be better suited to fiddling away the inherently higher carbonic acid content resulting from having more carbon dioxide still in the grind – this is key for decent soy milk cohesion and latte art. While some baristas might run and hide, if the underlying tastes were worth it the braver ones would accept the challenges of getting this new extraction right and relish watching that crema pour out at impossible rates … like it’s the machine’s own Patronus!
So, if all we need are some new skills and somewhat fancier machines, could this be a new coffee trend? The way I see it, that depends on you. See, even if wizard baristas get a kick out of the unpredictability of tastes from the same coffee as it steadily degasses over say a week, most coffee suppliers, cafe owners and customers would probably still value the consistency of taste instead. Even cat-poop coffee tastes the same each day, once it’s rested.
Conclusion? For un-rested coffees to make an appearance, Joe Public is going to need a chance to sample and decide upon them. What do you guys think? Would you attend an unrested coffee tasting at a good local spot, maybe The Storehouse in Mount Evelyn if we organised it?
Comment below, let us know and if we get 20 people interested we’ll do it.