Q: How do I know if the coffee beans or grounds I am buying are fresh?
A: The best sign a coffee is fresh is its aroma. The coffee should have a rich, full aroma.
Coffee ideally should be bought and consumed within 2-3 weeks of roasting. The closer to roasting time, the fresher your coffee will be.
You can’t discern anything from the coffee bean color, since it doesn’t change. A light roasted coffee stays light, and dark stays dark. Both are equally good roasting options, and are just a matter of taste.
If you are buying coffee and don’t plan to use it quickly, make sure to buy whole bean coffee. Store it in a cool, dry place, like the back of your cupboard. Don’t store it in the fridge or freezer, as it will ruin the natural oils in the coffee. When you are ready to brew the coffee, grind it with a burr grinder. A blade grinder doesn’t release the flavor of the coffee as much as a burr grinder will.
If you don’t have a burr grinder, ask your coffee shop to grind the coffee for you (it’s better to have a week old burr ground coffee than immediate blade ground coffee), but use it within a week or two, since the richness of the coffee dissipates more quickly when it is ground.