At Altura we have always taken pride in the fact that our beans get to our customers fresh out of the roaster and in peak condition. No hanging around for us. But why does it matter? A lot of people still buy their coffee beans in the supermarket — it’s cheaper and it’s convenient. We asked our master roaster Chris White for his view, and then stood well back!
“Coffee starts to deteriorate as soon as it’s out of the roaster — light and air immediately start to break it down. Coffee is actually more similar to fresh fruit and vegetables than it is to other bagged goods you’ll find in the supermarket. Whole beans maintain their freshness at peak condition for around two weeks after roasting— but if you buy ground coffee, think apple slices. Once you cut into an apple, the surface area is exposed to light and air and it starts to soften, lose moisture and turn brown within minutes. The same applies to coffee grounds. A coffee enthusiast can actually pick up on the deterioration of coffee grinds after only 30 minutes.”
In contrast, coffee supplied through supermarket chains can take up to two months just to get from the roaster to the supermarket shelf. Coffee travels from the roaster to a central distribution centre, from there into storage before being allocated to a specific supermarket. Then it will go back into storage at its final destination before being displayed on the shelf. And then it needs to be sold. So some supermarket coffee can be around two to twelve months old before it gets to your pantry — many supermarket coffees have a long expiry date to compensate for the supply chain journey.
The scientific explanation behind the philosophy of ‘fresh is best’ is pretty simple. Over to Chris: “The natural oils and sugars in the bean are brought to the surface during roasting and as they sit on the surface, they start to dissipate. Left too long and the coffee will start to lose its natural sweetness that brings a complexity of flavour. Left on the bean surface, the coffee oils will actually go rancid, leaving a bitter after-taste. And the more rancid oil that gathers on the surface of the bean, the more ends up in your machine and cup.”
There’s also another factor at play in the quality of supermarket coffee bean — and this time it’s all down to economics. Roasters get a much lower margin on coffee they sell through the supermarkets. When it comes to making decisions on the quality of green beans they purchase for this channel, they generally choose commodity green beans rather than more expensive beans from a specialty coffee grower. It helps offset the lower margins that come with mass distribution of product.
That, according to Chris, is why Altura has never sold coffee through supermarket chains. “We prefer to see ourselves like your local butcher or greengrocer – skilled boutique businesses offering fresh, premium products.”
And if you don’t believe us, test it out for yourselves. Put your last scoop of freshly roasted beans in the cupboard for a couple of months and then do a taste test comparing it with new beans from the same roaster – we reckon you’ll never look back!
At the end of the day you can’t get away from the old adage – you get what you pay for. We want more people to discover the difference that freshly roasted coffee can make, so we can now deliver our coffee direct to your door — the day after it’s been roasted. Even better, there’s no delivery charge (as long as you spend over $50). Go on, give it a go.
For the best, freshly roasted coffee in Auckland, check out our online shop and buy now.