Every coffee lover knows that the quality and freshness of coffee beans is the main determinant of how good the final brew will taste. Because of this, most people prefer to use freshly ground coffee beans to make a cup of Joe.
Most products on the market give an estimate of how long said product will last before expiring. This, however, isn’t the case with coffee packages. Usually, coffee companies only print the roast date of their coffee without an expiration estimate. This begs the question, “how long do coffee beans stay fresh after the roast date?”
There is something called the 15/15/15/15 rule of thumb. Non-roasted beans will stale in 15 months. Roasted beans will stale in 15 days. Ground coffee stales in 15 minutes. Brewed coffee should be served within 15seconds.
Usually, the freshness of your coffee beans is determined by the effort and precision you put into storing them. If you have a coffee package and don’t know how fresh it is, read on to find more information about whole bean coffee’s shelf life and storage.
What Is the Shelf Life of Whole Bean Coffee?
The oils, flavor components, and aromatic compounds of coffee beans oxidize with time, causing a significant deterioration in the flavor of the coffee.
The speed of this process often depends on factors such as the type of bean, degree of roast, and storage conditions.
As a local coffee roaster, I know this question is the one that always confuses newbie coffee drinkers. Of course, the answer will always be the same: Try to only grind the beans right before brewing, as much as needed. If you must do it earlier for convenience, please DO NOT grind it earlier than the night before.
The reason why we tell you that is because the oxidation process will dramatically change the flavor. The moment you open the coffee bean bag, the moment you grind the coffee, and even the moment coffee finished roasting is its own oxidation rate by changing its surface area.
Below is a general breakdown of the shelf life of the different types of whole bean coffee.
Roasted Coffee Beans Can Last 2 – 3 Weeks
Roasted coffee beans lose their aroma and flavor faster than green beans. Because of this, you need to be more mindful of how you store them.
Whole roasted coffee beans will remain fresh for 2 to 3 weeks after roasting. If you store them in an airtight container with a one-way valve, they can remain fresh and flavorful for over a month.
If you buy roasted coffee beans at the store, make sure to finish it within six weeks past the roasting date.
If the coffee is vacuum-packed, the beans can last for 3 to 5 months.
Roasted coffee beans that have been nitrogen flushed and packed in a one-way valve bag will stay fresh and flavorful for up to 12 months.
Once opened, store-bought roasted beans may only last for 2 to three weeks under the right storage conditions.
Note: Remember, the darker the roast, the faster the coffee loses its freshness and flavor
Green Coffee Beans Can Last For Several Years If Well Sealed
A majority of coffee lovers prefer buying already roasted coffee beans; however, a few prefer to roast their own, so they buy green coffee beans instead.
If you prefer buying green coffee beans, here is a little breakdown of how long they last:
If your green coffee beans are still vacuum-packed and sealed, they can last for several years – even when stored at room temperature in your pantry.
Once opened, you can store them for two years in a cotton or burlap bag. Variations in temperature and humidity may cause mold to grow on your green beans, making them go bad. To avoid this, make sure that the storage space is cool, dry, and away from direct sunlight.
Note: Green coffee beans may last longer than two years without losing their flavor when stored in optimal conditions.
How Do I Store Whole Bean Coffee?
If you want your coffee beans to stay fresh and flavorful, you should store them in proper conditions. Below are some pointers to help you store your coffee the right way:
Keep the beans cool and airtight.
As we mentioned before, air, moisture, and extreme heat and light are your coffee’s greatest enemies.
To keep your whole coffee beans’ roasted flavor fresh for longer, store them in an opaque and airtight container at room temperature. Also, avoid using clear containers as they will allow in the light that will compromise the flavor of your coffee.
Additionally, keep your coffee beans away from “hot spots” in your kitchen. These could be near an oven or a kitchen corner that gets too much sunlight and heat.
Although sufficient for a while, the retail packaging of your coffee isn’t ideal for long-term storage. If possible, you should consider buying special storage containers that have an airtight seal.
Buy your coffee in small batches.
Coffee beans begin to lose their freshness immediately after roasting and after opening their packaging. This brings losses, especially to coffee lovers who like buying their whole beans in bulk.
To avoid these losses, always buy your freshly roasted coffee in smaller batches.
Can I Freeze Whole Coffee Beans?
Yes, you can!
Freezing coffee beans as a storage method has been a controversial topic in the coffee world for a long time. However, it has proven to be the best storage method especially for coffee lovers who buy in bulk.
Frozen roasted coffee beans may stay fresh for up to 3 years, while frozen green beans may stay fresh infinitely.
Note: Always let your frozen coffee beans thaw for at least 24 hours before grinding and brewing.
Also, avoid refreezing coffee beans that you’ve already defrosted because you will ruin your beans.
How to Tell if Your Coffee Beans Have Gone Bad?
If you want to know whether your coffee beans have gone bad or not, smell them. Stale coffee beans either have a dull, rancid, or musty aroma. If the beans smell rancid or musty, your final brew will taste that way too.
If you love buying your coffee beans in bulk, then this post is for you. Follow out guidelines to help you store your whole coffee beans better so that they may last longer.