A YEAR OF GREEN COFFEE: NEW, CURRENT, PAST AND OLD CROP
We know it from some wines: usually the older, the better. This however is different with coffee, which is usually at its best when fresh.
But how do you recognize that?
The result of a good espresso usually depends on the coffee itself, the quality of the espresso machine, its maintenance and the expertise of the baristas.
One element which can always be found in the lists of raw coffee sellers is the harvest time of green coffee. Or even better: its age. As a rule, one differentiates between four different typologies:
- Past Crop: The oldest coffee, harvested two or more years ago
- Old Crop: coffee that was harvested the previous year
- Current Crop: The harvest took place in the current year
- New Crop: Coffee which is still growing and on the market only with the next crop period
A coffee that was harvested in October 2018, so referred to as “harvested in 2018/2019” and receives the status of Current crop. In October 2019, this will change to Old crop. These distinctions are made especially for the trade, but you can feel them also in the taste. Freshly harvested coffee, the so called New or Current crops, usually have a shiny color and give the taste a particularly acidic note. Older coffee, from Old or Past crop, have often spent a lot of time in storage rooms before being sent to the roasters. This mainly affects the color, which looks much less intense, as well as the quality, which is also influenced.
Coffee and wine
It’s not the rule, but it does happen occasionally that, as with wine, some months of resting can work wonders on the volume and balance of a coffee.
However, since this phenomenon is an exception, fresh coffee should always be preferred. It also avoids nasty surprises if the storage wasn’t carried out properly (for example, the storage rooms could be too humid, smell bad, etc.!).
How do you distinguish fresh from old coffee?
In addition to the color, through which you can already recognize the freshness of coffee, there is another method to test this: just bite it, like with a gold coin! Unroasted coffee does not just crumble when you bite it and with a bit of practice you can see how the fresh coffee slowly deforms while the old one hardly changes.
Since coffee grows in tropical climates, there are numerous harvests every year depending on the rainy season. In general, it can be said that the coffee harvest to the north of the “coffee belt” (for example in Central America) reaches its peak between May and October. In the south, on the other hand, this occurs more likely between November and April. Countries that are in the “middle”, around the equator (Kenya or Sumatra), often have more than one season to harvest.