Frequently Asked Questions


What is the date on the back of my bag?
The date on the back of your Terra Nova Coffee bag is the date that we packaged that bag of coffee. In most cases it’s the day of, or within days of being roasted. When you place an order with us we package your coffee to order - so you’re always guaranteed to have our freshest beans.

How should I store my Terra Nova coffee?
Coffee beans must be protected from air and moisture in order to stay fresh. Our sealed bags do a good job at keeping the coffee fresh until you open the bag. Whether it’s ground or whole bean it’s best to store your Terra Nova coffee in an air-tight container, away from direct sunlight, and in moderate temperatures, before and after opening the bag.

How long is your coffee good for?
We roast our coffee in small batches - to ensure it’s the freshest coffee you can get, and to prolong the shelf life as much as possible for you.

A good general rule of thumb is not to purchase more coffee than you would normally drink in a two-week period.

Your coffee’s shelf life depends on a number of factors such as whether you’ve opened the sealed bag, if it is whole bean or ground, and how you store it. Whole bean coffee, either in our sealed bags or stored in an airtight container, away from sunlight, and in moderate temperatures, can last you 6 months. An opened bag of ground coffee can be good for up to 3 months, though the oils will evaporate quicker and it might taste stale.

Coffee is considered a shelf-stable dry good, so technically it doesn’t go bad. It just won’t taste as good as freshly-roasted coffee.

Why are some bags more full than others?
Our coffee is sold by weight, not by volume. So even though it seems like you’re getting more with dark roast, it’s really just puffed up beans. As we roast the beans, they expand and crack. The longer the roast, the bigger the bean because it has cracked open. In addition, beans that are roasted longer evaporate more moisture and thus become lighter. So dark roasts naturally fill our bags more than light roasts.

Why are my beans oily?
This pertains to dark roasts (Big DipperEspresso, French Roast, Papua New Guinea, Equatorial Bold, Decaf Espresso, and Decaf French Roast). Coffee beans contain natural oils that will come to the surface when a certain roast level is achieved. During the roasting process the coffee bean will audibly crack open. The darker the roast, the more times it cracks and the more permeable the structure of the coffee bean becomes. When the internal shell cracks, the oils within the beans begin to release and permeate to the surface of the coffee bean. The result is beans with a noticeable oily sheen.

Side note: oils eventually make their way to the surface of the bean of medium and light roasts too, especially if exposed to warmer temperatures.   

My coffee bag puffed up - what is happening?
This is a good thing! This means your beans are really really fresh. You’ll notice that your Terra Nova Coffee bag has a little one-way valve built into the bag. Fresh beans emit carbon dioxide, which is released through the valve. Because it’s a one-way valve, air cannot get in so your coffee stays fresh. Your puffy bag of beans was likely bagged almost immediately after being roasted and the valve may be clogged. Regardless of whether your bag puffs or not, you’re still getting our freshest beans every time.


Is Terra Nova coffee certified organic?
Yes! In fact, all of Terra Nova’s coffees are certified organic twice: first in the country of origin, and again after being imported into the United States. Terra Nova is audited yearly and proudly displays the USDA organic seal on every bag. You can read more about our commitment to be 100% organic on our Why Organic page

Is Terra Nova coffee Fair Trade?
All of Terra Nova’s green coffee is responsibly sourced, meaning the growers and producers are paid fairly for their coffee, often at a higher price because of the organic certification. Our coffees are not all Fair Trade Certified, though some do come with that distinction.

Is Terra Nova coffee “songbird friendly”?
Organic coffees are often shade-grown, because clear-cut (and thus sun-grown) coffee requires a lot of pesticides which are not allowed under the National Organic Program. So while shade-grown coffee is songbird friendly, our coffees are not certified as such.

Are your coffee beans arabica or robusta? What’s the difference?
Terra Nova only uses arabica beans in our coffees, including our espresso.
Arabica and robusta are the two most common coffee species. While there are many other species and subspecies, most coffees you are familiar with are arabica, robusta, or a blend of the two. Arabica is harder to grow than robusta, has a wider taste range, and tends to be considered higher quality. Robusta has more caffeine, but the taste ranges from neutral to harsh. Arabica is the preferred species within the coffee community.

How are your beans decaffeinated?
We source green beans that have been decaffeinated via either Mountain Water or Swiss Water Process®. Mountain Water Process begins with a detailed physical/chemical analysis to determine the optimal extraction conditions. The coffee beans are prepared prior to extraction using steam with controlled pressure. Caffeine is extracted using a saturated solution based on water and soluble coffee solids under conditions of flow, temperature, pressure and vacuum. In the Swiss Water Process the beans are soaked to the target moisture level that is ideal for caffeine removal. Green Coffee Extract (GCE), a combination of water and all of the coffee solubles except for caffeine, is circulated around the beans. The GCE will absorb the caffeine, since that is the only soluble not found in GCE. This process takes 8-10 hours. Then the GCE is filtered through carbon to remove the caffeine and reused in the process. The carbon is sent to a furnace to burn the caffeine away and it is also reused in the process. Once 99.9% of the caffeine is removed the coffee is dried, bagged, and shipped to us for roasting. This method is the cleanest and most environmentally sound way to remove caffeine from coffee. There’s a really cool infographic and short video on the Swiss Water website.

Is Terra Nova’s coffee “washed" or "natural" process?
Terra Nova uses primarily washed beans. The exceptions are Sumatra which is Giling Basah, or “wet hulled”. Washed beans remove the coffee beans from the cherry prior to drying. Natural process coffee beans are dried inside of the coffee cherry. Giling Basah is similar to washed, except that the beans go through their final hulling at a higher moisture value. 

Coffee processing does influence the coffee’s characteristics. Washed beans tend to be lighter-bodied with classically nutty notes. Natural process beans are typically more fruity because the sugars from the fruit permeate the bean as it ferments. Giling Basah makes an earthy and deep flavor. All three processes have one thing in common: they all make for a lovely cup of coffee.  

Once in a while we get a different process due to sourcing limitations. We update information regularly, so for the most up-to-date information please refer to the individual product pages. 


Is Terra Nova Coffee gluten-free?
Yes! Coffee beans are actually the seeds of the coffee berry - a stone fruit, not a grain - and do not contain any gluten. It should be noted that our roastery is adjacent to our kitchen, which is not gluten-free. So however unlikely, the risk of cross-contamination exists and those with serious allergic reactions should take note.

Are there any nuts in Terra Nova Coffees?
There are no nuts in our coffees, however it should be noted that our roastery is adjacent to both our cafe and kitchen. However unlikely, the risk of cross-contamination exists and those with serious allergic reactions should take note.

I found a rock in my coffee... is this normal?
Finding small rocks in coffee is a common occurrence. Coffee is laid out to dry on patios and must be turned frequently to facilitate the drying process. As the beans are raked, rocks from the patio can get mixed in with the beans. (The rocks come from deteriorating patios that are weather-beaten by the tropical elements.) We do our best to inspect every batch from green bean to roasted, but rocks can still get through - especially when they are the same size and color as a coffee bean.

Do you have light, medium, and dark roast options?
Yes! You can view the collections for light, medium, and dark roasts.

Do you add any flavorings to Terra Nova Coffees?
No, we never add any flavorings to Terra Nova Coffee. The descriptions of the different roasts include tasting notes which are found in the complexity of the coffee itself. So when it says “notes of hazelnut” it means some of the coffee flavor is reminiscent of hazelnut, and does not actually contain hazelnut or hazelnut flavoring.


How much coffee should I use when brewing?
Start with 2 tablespoons per 6 ounces of water and adjust to your perfect cup.

How should I grind my coffee?
Grinding your own coffee beans makes for the best possible coffee, since you are releasing the coffee volatiles immediately prior to brewing. To get the most out of your Terra Nova Coffee, we highly recommend investing in a grinder.

Coffee grind is directly related to the type of brewing you do. Generally speaking, the finer the grind, the shorter the brew time. If you have an automatic drip coffee maker the grind is medium. Pour-over is ground finer than auto-drip, and espresso is finer than pour-over. On the other end of the spectrum, a coarse grind works best for french press and cold brew.

There’s a lot of minutia we can go into here - such as grinding coffee slightly coarser for metal auto-drip filters versus paper filters, grinding for Chemex, Aeorpress, or other specialty coffee makers, etc. If you have any specific questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Also be sure to check out our brew guides for helpful tips.


What are coffee tasting notes?
Coffee tasting notes are a written description of the underlying flavors of the roasted beans, meant to help guide you toward a coffee you’ll love. Unlike coffee flavorings, which Terra Nova does not use, tasting notes are naturally occurring “hints” of flavor. So you might see hazelnut as a note, but not necessarily taste it outright. Notes are determined using a process called “cupping,” and describe the coffee’s characteristics. Characteristics include aroma, taste, body, and acidity. Notes are heavily impacted by the region where the beans are grown and the way they are roasted. Since coffee flavors are very complex, different people might pick up on different tasting notes. It’s a fun and engaging process, and we recommend you try cupping for yourself!

What does “body” mean?
“Body” is a textural term describing the mouthfeel and fullness of the coffee on the tongue. Medium-bodied, for example, means that the coffee is not too heavy or light on the tongue. The bean and its origin, how it was roasted, and your brewing method all affect the body of the coffee. We judge the body of the coffee using the pour-over method, but other coffee brewing methods, like a stove-top percolator, can add to the body significantly.

Is coffee acidic?
Interestingly enough, coffee is technically acidic, but it’s relatively low in acid. You’ll often see “acidity” in descriptions of coffee, but like wine this refers to a tasting note, not the pH. Coffee’s pH averages from 5.0 - 5.1, which is similar to carbonated water. For reference, the pH scale ranges from 0 (most acidic) to 7 (neutral) to 14 (most alkaline or basic). Milk has a pH of 6. Coffee’s pH is lower than juice (range of 2.25 - 4.69), and even beer (4.1 - 4.5). Darker roasted coffees are even less acidic. 

So what is coffee “acidity”?
Coffee “acidity” is another textural term describing a pleasant crispness of the coffee on the tongue. It’s a desirable quality, and has nothing to do with the acid level (pH) of coffee.


How long will it take for my Terra Nova coffee to arrive?
For the answer to that and any other shipping questions you might have, please visit our shipping page.

Can I return my Terra Nova coffee?
For the answer to this, please visit our returns page.

Coffee subscription information
For information on how to access and manage your coffee subscription please visit our subscription information page