How Long Do Coffee Beans Stay Fresh?
Best Tips for Tastier Java and Happier Beans
Where would we be without one of the most wonderful of nature’s gifts – the incredible coffee bean? This amazing little fruit provides us with that much-needed kick-start to our day, especially after a heavy night out or poor sleep, while packing a powerful punch full of the most amazing flavor. Not to mention the fact that it also has one of the most tantalizing smells in the world!
But how long do coffee beans stay fresh? How do we know when it’s past its best, and how can we keep it smelling and tasting wonderful? We are here to share our coffee knowledge with you so you can keep enjoying a wonderfully fresh cuppa without compromise! We will advise you on how to store your fresh coffee so you can keep enjoying the benefits of this everyday essential at its very best.
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How Long Do Coffee Beans Stay Fresh?
Green Unroasted Coffee Beans
Coffee beans that are fresh from the tree are called “cherries”. They turn a beautiful deep red color when they are perfectly ripe and ready for picking, which in the case of really good coffee, is carried out totally by hand to make sure only the ripest fruits are picked.
Once picked, they have to be washed and then dried in the hot sun straight away to make sure they do not stay moist and start to degrade. Next, the husk can be removed which then reveals what we know as the green coffee bean. At this stage, the beans should contain around 11% moisture, which is the recommended level from the International Trade Center. They are then ready to be packaged up and distributed all around the world.
In this dried state the bean will last approximately 1 year if stored in a dark and dry environment. As the beans are porous, any moisture or strong light will degrade them quite quickly. Temperature and air can also take their toll on the coffee bean, so the correct conditions are really important for a great quality end product. The ideal environment for the green coffee bean is 60% humidity, at a temperature of 60-77F, and in a dark room. So you can see it must be quite a logistical challenge when they have to travel so many miles, and in many cases, across several continents.
Roasted Coffee Beans
Once coffee beans have been roasted, they need to be put in the correct packaging as soon as possible to avoid oxidation from the air and environment. Most often coffee is packaged in the airtight foil-lined, plastic, or paper packages that we see in the stores. There is also a type of package that has a little valve on the side that allows carbon dioxide to escape while at the same time keeping air out. This is the best packaging to look for as the coffee will be extra fresh and the burst of smell when you open the package is divine!However, these packs aren’t designed for long-term storage so once you get your precious pack of coffee beans home, make sure you transfer them to a suitable container ( see ‘How to Store Coffee and Make it Last Longer’ below). Once in the correct container, your beans should stay fresh for 2 to 3 months if stored in a cool place like a pantry but ideally, you want to use them within a month of them being roasted to enjoy them at their very best.
How Long Does Ground Coffee Last?
Once the roasted coffee beans have been ground, they have a much shorter shelf life, about a week, if stored in the same recommended environment as discussed above. The reason for this is because they are much more vulnerable to oxidation and moisture than the whole bean as the internal parts of the ground bean are now exposed. This will rapidly degrade both the aroma and taste so try to get your coffee from a local roaster and always check the date of the roast.
Quick Reference Guide: How Long Do Coffee Beans Stay Fresh
Green Coffee Beans
If you're a DIY home coffee roaster and purchase green coffee beans, they can last up to 1 year in a dark and dry environment.
Roasted Coffee Whole Bean
Your whole bean coffee can stay fresh for several months if it is stored properly, always airtight, in a cool, dark, dry environment.
Freshly Ground Coffee
Ideally, grind just enough whole bean coffee for the brew you are making, and store the remaining whole beans as noted above. This will give you the very best taste, aroma, and overall coffee-drinking experience. If you must grind and then store, use them within 1 week for the best taste.
If you store your pre-ground coffee in the pantry it should last about 3 to 5 months.
How Long Does Coffee Last After Brewing?
Freshly brewed coffee has that incredible feel-good aroma and taste to it that should ideally be enjoyed just after brewing. But although you can keep coffee for a max of 3 days in the fridge, it will of course not taste or smell as good as it should. If kept at room temperature it will change its smell very quickly and lose a lot of its taste, and if you have put milk in it, do not keep it any longer than a few hours at room temperature.
Will Freezing Coffee Beans Make Them Last Longer?
There is definitely divided opinion on this one. According to some, the process can work very well, provided the beans are kept in absolutely airtight conditions.
Some folks feel that freezing them introduces extra moisture which in turn affects the flavor and aroma, but others have found it to be a really good solution when it’s been necessary to buy coffee beans in bulk.
And, grind them straight from the freezer, taking out only what you need for the current brew. Yikes, the purists out there are cringing like crazy but before you shoot it down, there is some science that agrees with the method on this one!
The enthusiasts state that doing it this way and brewing the coffee immediately after grinding gives a great, rich-tasting cup of coffee with all the amazing notes of aroma present. Give it a try and draw your own conclusion.
How to Tell If Coffee is Bad
Both whole coffee beans and ground coffee can go bad, but mostly from a flavor/aroma point of view. Because the coffee we use is a dried product containing very little moisture, it doesn’t grow mold as such, unless it is left in a very damp place for quite a long time.
But if your coffee is exposed to air, heat, light or high temperatures it will lose both its rich aroma and taste and be replaced by a rather stale version. Both the taste and smell will be lacking in the deep, velvety, fruity tones of wonderfully fresh coffee, so keep this in mind when pondering how long coffee beans last and stay fresh.
So give your container of coffee a good sniff! If you suspect it may have been lingering a bit too long and if you don’t get that wonderful feeling that you normally would from smelling a freshly opened pack, then it has most likely gone stale.
When you drink coffee made with stale beans or grounds it will be severely lacking in flavor. It tastes kind of flat without the usual deep, rich tones and can quite often taste bitter - pretty disappointing stuff!
How to Store Coffee to Make It Last Longer
OK, so knowing what you now know, it’s all about the storage right? But what is the best type of container? Well, you need to get one that is hermetically sealed, which means completely airtight and moisture-proof.
On top of that, it must be opaque and not a clear container otherwise the coffee will be affected by light. So ideally a dark-colored container is the best for keeping both beans and grounds fresh.Keep this container in the pantry, or as mentioned before, in the freezer, especially if you want to store it there for longer than a couple of months. You can then take what you need each time and grind it up fresh to use right away.
But whatever you do, don’t leave it sitting on the countertop to warm up – get it straight back into the freezer before it gets affected by the temperature change.
If you want to store brewed coffee, keep it airtight, and chilled, but only for a max of 3 days. Some efficient coffee-lovers brew a large pot of coffee and rather than shaking through the whole day from over-consumption, put the rest of it in a jar.
Once it’s cold, pop it in the fridge or even make ice cubes from it in the freezer. It makes a wonderful addition to a coffee-banana smoothie either later on, or the next day. It tastes like an awesome creamy frappuccino – especially if you add a dollop of peanut butter - totally amazing!
Tips for Keeping Coffee Fresher Longer
When considering how long do coffee beans stay fresh, there are a number of simple things you can do. Here are some practical tips to help you protect your precious little beans and keep them tasting their finest:
Perhaps these fascinating coffee bean freshness facts have you pondering what type of whole bean coffee would be the best to try. No worries, my friend. We've got you covered there!
- One 2.2 pound bag of Lavazza Super Crema Italian whole coffee beans
- Mild and creamy medium espresso roast with notes of hazelnuts and brown sugar
- Blended and roasted in Italy
- Best used with espresso machine
- Produced in a nut-free facility center, Contains only coffee
- Each bag contains 42 ounces of delicious Eight O Clock Whole Bean Coffee
- Original Flavor, 42 Ounce Resealabe Bag
- Quality since 1859
- America's #1 Whole Bean Coffee
- Balanced, full-bodied medium roast with a smooth finish
- One 32-ounce bag of whole bean coffee
- 100% Arabica coffee grown in Colombia
- Roasted and packed in the U.S.A.
- Shown as a serving suggestion
- Big Bang: A brilliant blend created to celebrate Alfred Peet and our 50th anniversary, featuring the exotic fruitiness of Ethiopian Super Natural
- Flavor & Roast: Vibrant blast of tropical fruit in a smooth, medium style Medium roast
- Peet's Commitment: To achieve our signature rich flavor, we source the world’s best coffee beans, hand-roast them in small batches, and uphold the strictest standard of freshness
- The Pursuit of Perfection: Alfred Peet was renowned for achieving perfection through his blends, bringing together coffees so exceptional, each could stand on its own For unparalleled complexity & nuance, look no further than our signature blends
- Obsessed with Fresh: Do you know when your coffee was roasted? We do Freshly roasted coffee means a more flavorful cup We print the roast date on each and every bag so you know you are enjoying the freshest coffee possible
- FOG CHASER: A blend of Central & South American beans helps lift away the morning "fog." This full-bodied, well balanced medium dark roast coffee has notes of milk chocolate, toffee, & sweet mandarin.
- COFFEE FOR EVERY OCCASION: We offer a wide selection of 100% Arabica coffee from whole beans & ground coffee to single-serve coffee pods. Our coffees are sustainably grown & Kosher. Satisfaction guaranteed!
- WHOLE BEAN COFFEE: Whether you're into finely ground espresso or drip coffee, or coarsely ground French Press or pour over coffee, our 100% Arabica coffee beans deliver a robust cup for every taste.
- Packaging: Due to the current circumstances and material supplier constraints, the packaging may vary. The product ingredients, roast, amount of coffee, etc. have not changed and the product quality is the same
- SF BAY COFFEE is a family owned, American made company with a rich tradition. Our reputation reflects on us as a family so if you're ever not happy with your purchase, call us at 1(800) 829-1300 and we'll make it right.
So how long do coffee beans stay fresh? It’s all down to you now with your newly acquired knowledge about how to buy, store and use this incredible little bean. A good coffee is worth splurging on so buy quality, enjoy the amazing aroma and superb taste but whatever you do, never so much as even glance at a jar of instant coffee again!
Candi Randolph is a coffee lover, blogger, and content creator who loves to share her knowledge with the coffee-drinking world. You'll often find her tending to her coffee bar at home, deciding which method to use to brew her next cup of java. Life is full of important decisions.