As a regular coffee drinker, you probably prefer brewing different coffees rather than drinking instant coffee. Ever picked coffee beans from a grocery store or coffee house and failed to find a date of expiry on the package? Do you know how long coffee beans last?
Generally, coffee packages only come with a label indicating the date they were roasted. In case you find beans that were roasted just a few days ago, you’re lucky as they’re more likely to brew fresh-tasting coffee.
Unfortunately, coffee beans in some grocery stores and supermarkets stay on the shelves for several weeks. No matter how you’re good in brewing coffee, using overstayed coffee beans will give you a stale tasting cup of coffee. Even adding sugar or milk won’t help. Most notably, if you brew black coffee with overstayed beans, you won’t enjoy your cup of joe due to extreme bitterness.
In this article, we have included detailed information on storing coffee beans and some answers to any questions you may be having regarding coffee bean storage.
For many coffee lovers, their day doesn’t start well until they brew fresh coffee. Current statistics by the National Coffee Association regarding coffee consumption indicate that the number of people drinking coffee is increasing rapidly. The main reason behind the popularity of coffee is the quick energy boost it gives the body, thanks to its rich caffeine content.
Unfortunately, you’d never enjoy a coffee brew that lacks the rich aroma and flavor that stimulates the body. Thus, it’s necessary to learn more about how long roasted coffee beans last, how long you should store ground coffee, and proper storage of coffee beans to keep them fresh. Read on through this guide to find out.
How Long Can I Keep Coffee Beans?
You’re probably wondering whether coffee beans expire. Fortunately, all types of varieties of coffee beans don’t go bad. That’s why coffee roasters don’t include a date of expiry on their coffee beans package. Generally, coffee beans are an ambient food, which means that they’re shelf-stable. Although it can take several years for coffee beans to become stale, they lose their flavors and freshness in about a week or two after roasting.
The reason why roasted beans lose much of their freshness is that during the roasting process, each coffee bean undergoes degassing, which is a process through which they release C02 (carbon dioxide), nitrogen, and other gases into the atmosphere. That’s why coffee bags have a valve. Carbon dioxide escape through the valve. The CO2 valve also prevents moisture and oxygen from getting into the coffee bag to prevent oxidation.
Once the roasted beans complete the degassing process, they begin to absorb oxygen. Consequently, they oxidize. The oxidation process causes coffee beans to lose their freshness and their flavor deteriorates. Even though coffee packages come with valves, they won’t help in maintaining coffee freshness forever.
Scientifically, coffee beans don’t last forever. The reason behind this is that coffee comprises degradable compounds including amino acids, lipids, and carbohydrates. These compounds break down physically and chemically as time passes. As a result, the flavor and quality of the beans deteriorate with time. Regardless, coffee beans last longer than coffee grounds.
Does Ground Coffee Go Bad?
Wondering how long ground coffee stays fresh in your pantry or kitchen cupboard? Well, ground coffee only stays fresh for up to a week once ground. Pre-ground coffee degasses quickly and oxidizes more easily than roasted coffee beans. As a result, it’s recommended to grind coffee beans just before brewing coffee rather than using pre-ground coffee. In case you don’t own a grinder, consider having the coffee beans ground in your local grocery store. Grinders are generally affordable.
Upon grinding coffee beans, store any extra amounts in an airtight container or canisters. Keep the container in a cool, dry place to keep them fresher. Don’t store them in the fridge, even when stored in containers or freezer bags to prevent mold growth. Of course, condensation in the refrigerator will cause humidity even in an airtight container.
How Do You Keep Coffee Beans From Going Stale?
Storing coffee beans properly can assist in maximizing their shelf life. It’s advisable to buy freshly roasted coffee beans. Check the coffee package for the date of roasting. An extra tip is to ensure the seal on the package is not broken. If you want to maximize their shelf life, buy coffee beans that were roasted not more than a week ago as they still have most of their flavor components.
Get an airtight storage container to store coffee beans. Upon opening their original package, transfer them into a sealed container. Keep the sealed container away from direct sunlight, preferably in a cool and dark cabinet. Nitrogen flushing and vacuum sealing of coffee storage bags are great ideas and tricks for prolonging the freshness of coffee. Nitrogen flushing eliminates oxygen, which is the molecule that makes coffee go stale.
Also, both ground coffee and coffee beans stay fresh for a longer period when stored at room temperature. Thus, they should be kept away from hot areas. Exposure to heat and light will make them lose their freshness more quickly. Also, don’t keep them in the refrigerator for reasons mentioned earlier.
It’ll also help own a coffee grinder such as a burr grinder. That way, you can grind coffee beans in the comfort of your home rather than buying pre-ground coffee. Also, you’ll only ground a batch of coffee beans that you can use to brew coffee in one go. Always measure coffee beans before grinding them to avoid grinding excess beans. Brewing with freshly ground coffee will give you fresh-tasting coffee.
You can maximize the freshness of your coffee beans by consuming them within 14 days on average after opening their original packaging. In case you’re left with extra ground coffee, store it in an airtight container to keep it fresh for a little longer.
How Long Is Brewed Coffee Good For?
Now that you know how to make whole coffee beans and ground coffee last longer, it’s also important to know how long your freshly brewed cup of coffee will stay fresh. Once you start brewing coffee, you’re exposing it to maximum oxidation. Brewing involves extraction of coffee oils, acids, and flavors from coffee beans with water. Water contains oxygen. Just like exposing coffee to air, exposing it to water also results in oxidation.
Once you start brewing coffee, you’ll only have approximately 15 to 60 minutes to consume it before it starts losing its freshness. Even after brewing, the drink will continue oxidizing. You can extend its freshness by some hours by pouring excess brewed coffee into a thermos. Ensure the thermos is airtight. Coffee left at room temperature should be consumed not later than 4 hours after brewing, else its oils will go bad.
It’s worth noting that adding dairy to coffee reduces its freshness when kept in a thermos. Thus, consume coffee with dairy within a few hours after preparing the drink. The best way out is to add dairy to an amount of coffee you can finish in one go.
Also, your brew’s freshness will depend on how fresh the coffee beans used in brewing are. That’s why it’s important to store coffee beans properly. If you brew coffee with stale coffee beans or grounds, you’ll feel a lackluster taste in the brew.
Does Brewed Coffee Go Bad If Refrigerated?
Generally, you can refrigerate brewed coffee for a maximum of 7 days. However, its aroma and taste will degrade with time despite refrigerating it. Remember to completely cover the brew before refrigeration. Doing so will prevent it from absorbing the flavors and smells of other refrigerated foods. Any absorbed foreign smell automatically changes your brew’s taste.
Generally, cold brew stays longer while refrigerated than regular hot coffee. Cold brew is prepared by steeping ground coffee in cold water for about 12-18 hours. If you make cold brew properly, you can refrigerate it for some weeks. However, its flavor may start changing after the first 7 days of refrigeration. If you dilute cold brew with water, it’ll only stay fresh for a maximum of 3 days when refrigerated. Thus, you can maximize its shelf life by refrigerating it in its unadulterated form.
Does Freezing Coffee Beans Keep Them Fresh?
There’re many opinions regarding this topic. Since coffee is porous and soft, it absorbs foreign aromas and scent in the storage area. Thus, it’s not advisable to freeze coffee beans in a freezer full of frozen foods. Also, coffee beans are prone to freezer burn. Thus, freezing coffee beans doesn’t make them fresher. However, freezing them can prolong the time they remain fresh regardless of whether you’ve opened the original coffee bag package or not.
Regardless, there’re certain things you should know before freezing coffee beans. For instance, most of the freezers used at home don’t reach temperatures that are low enough to prevent oxidation. Thus, the volatile aromas of the beans will oxidize over time when frozen. However, oxidation will be slower when coffee beans are frozen than when kept at room temperature.
It’s not advisable to freeze, defrost, and refreeze coffee beans. If you do that, you’ll introduce moisture and oxygen to the coffee beans. As a result, they’ll become stale sooner. If you want your roasted beans to last longer, divide them into smaller portions before freezing them. Each portion should contain coffee beans that can be used within 7 days after defrosting them. Only use sealable and airtight zipper bags to freeze them. Squeeze out any air in the bags before putting them in your freezer.
By dividing them into smaller portions, you’ll only defrost batches you can use within 7 days rather than defrosting bulk amounts. You can thaw them by leaving them overnight at room temperature without opening the bag. Once they thaw, transfer them into an airtight storage container. They’ll stay fresh for up to 7 days. You can grind enough coffee beans from those in the storage container just before brewing.
How to Tell If Coffee Beans Are Bad
Your sense of smell is the best way to tell whether your coffee beans are bad. Since they don’t come with an expiry date, smell them for any staleness or odors. Essentially, coffee beans that smell rancid or have mold should be thrown away. If the beans have a weird smell rather than the natural aroma of coffee, it’s an indicator they’re no longer fresh.
The freshness of coffee beans and ground coffee matters a lot. Although brewing coffee with stale or expired beans may not harm you, they’ll give you a stale or flat-tasting brew. Regardless of the brewing process or method you use, be it a French press coffee maker, cold brew coffee maker, or an espresso machine, brewing with bad beans containing molds is not good for you.
Is It Safe to Use Expired Coffee Beans?
Coffee, whether whole beans or ground coffee must expire at one point in time. Even the freshness of K-Cups deteriorates over time, even if they have not attained their expiration date. Although proper storage of coffee beans and ground beans prolongs their shelf life, they’ll still degrade over time. Thus, even the best storage methods will not preserve their freshness forever.
Although consuming spoilt coffee may not cause any health issue, it’s not advisable for coffee drinkers to brew coffee with beans or grounds that have mold or mildew. Brewing with expired coffee beans will give you a brew that tastes and smells different. In most cases, consuming spoiled brewed coffee may cause digestive problems, body fatigue, and the urge to visit the washroom more often.
Stale grounds should be treated as a waste product. You can use stale grounds to make compost for your garden. Another option is to use them to scour pots and pans.
The best coffee beans to buy are freshly roasted beans. If you don’t have the luxury to roast coffee beans at home, consider buying roasted beans from a nearby roaster rather than a supermarket or grocery store. Most coffee roasters roast their beans weekly. Thus, you’re guaranteed of getting the freshest coffee beans. If there’s no roaster near you, consider an online coffee subscription to have the beans shipped to you as soon as they’re roasted. You’ll get them within a few days and stand better chances of brewing fresh-tasting coffee. Also, observe proper coffee storage whenever you buy a large supply.