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How Long Do Coffee Beans Stay Fresh

How Long Do Green Coffee Beans Stay Fresh

Ask Gail: How Long Do Coffee Beans Last?

Green coffee is marketed by companies to last for years, but in reality, you should be roasting and then drinking those beans between 6 to 12 months. Keep them any longer than that, and they will start to expire and lose their overall quality, distinct flavors, and aromas.

When compared to roasted coffee beans, which have around six weeks of optimum freshness, and pre-ground coffee only a two-week window, raw green coffee beans last longer, under the right conditions.

Because green coffee is in a raw state, there are a lot of unseen variables that can affect the freshness before they reach you.

For example, information on how long they have been stored before being shipped and the coffee storage conditions are not always readily available. Its these unknowns that can make a big difference in their shelf life.

This is why its essential to check your green coffee beans for signs of dryness, as this will give you a quick indicator as to how long they have been on the shelf.

Ideally, the green coffee should have a greenish hue, and it should be slightly glossy and a little soft.

How Can I Tell If My Coffee Is Bad

Coffee doesnt really change in physical appearance once its gone bad, so how can you tell if your coffee is good or not? Since its not really visible to the eye, your nose is your greatest tool. Fresh coffee smells strong and pleasant, and stale or spoiled coffee does not. It usually smells dull, dusty, and generally lacks that wave of sweet, caramel-like fragrance.

If youre already brewed coffee, you can still notice a change in flavor more time passes. After about an hour or so, youll notice the coffee go from its normal flavor to a more bitter, slightly sour flavor.

How To Tell If Coffee Beans Are Bad

Coffee beans almost never spoil in a way they get rotten or grow mold.

If some water got into the package and you can see mold or any other visual changes, discard the contents of the container immediately. Same thing if theres something wrong with the smell. Otherwise, the beans are most likely perfectly safe for preparing coffee.

With time, coffee beansaroma and flavor weaken. The longer you store the roasted beans, the worse those qualities become. At some point, you might brew yourself a cup of coffee with those old beans and find the coffee doesnt taste quite right.

Maybe the smell isnt as strong as it used to be, or it feels a little stale or tasteless. If you get to that point, you have a decision to make. You can either discard those beans for quality purposes or stick with them and brew subpar coffee. Honestly, both are valid choices.

The good news is that many people are like me and dont notice the subtle changes in taste and aroma for quite a few months. If coffee brewed with old coffee beans tastes okay, keep using them.

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How To Freeze Coffee Beans

It is not advisable to keep your coffee beans in the fridge or freezer . Heres why the coffee cell structure is porous and soft, and likes to absorb smells. This means that if you have garlic or any other strong smelling foodstuff in the freezer, the coffee beans might absorb their aroma. Nobody would want a strange smelling garlicky drink.

There are also many other reasons why the fridge is not a good option it makes coffee condense and forces oils to the surface. This makes the coffee to age quicker.

If freezing be aware that a good number of home storage containers let small amounts of oxygen, in which can lead to a freeze burn.

If you insist on freezing, here is how to freeze bean. Ensure that they are in an air-tight container or package that is sealed and unopened.

Using a bag to store coffee in the freezer. Pic by Jimmie.

Also, to ensure that your frozen coffee beans dont spoil, speedily remove the amount you need to use for not more than a week. Proceed to return the rest of the coffee beans to the freezer before they can condense .

Before brewing your coffee, first let your beans thaw at room temperature. You might be happy to have preserved the fresh flavors but then again, you have introduced another hurdle, the coffee beverage experience is supposed to be pleasurable, easy, and convenient.

How Long Do Coffee Beans Last

How Long Do Coffee Beans Stay Fresh

Coffee isnt the second most widely consumed drink without good reason. A cup of coffee at the right time can help prop you up for a hard days work. But most people dont drink coffee just for the boost–its flavor is also very important. Unfortunately, many people are often disappointed to find that coffee beans they bought just a week before have gone flat or stale.

This is rarely due to poor quality, but rather poor storage methods. Luckily, with proper storage you can prolong the life of your beans by several months.

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What Happens To Coffee After Its Ground

One of the reasons whole bean coffee stays fresh longer is related to the degassing process. Once the roasted beans have emitted most of their carbon dioxide, oxygen seeps in and interacts with oils in the beans. This starts a process called oxidization, which breaks down the flavour of the beans and affects how long the ground coffee will last.

When coffee is ground into smaller pieces, the ratio of surface area to volume for each smaller piece becomes much greater, and the surfaces also become more porous. This speeds up the process of degassing. The carbon dioxide is replaced by oxygen more quickly, which in turn can cause the coffee to go stale more quickly. Pre-ground coffee sold at the grocery store is likely far past its degassing period, as the beans were roasted well before the coffee was ground, packaged, and shipped to the store.

What Can I Do With Old Coffee Beans

But what if you have leftover beans that are already weak and stale? They are safe to drink, but they also do not offer the lively punch that fresh brew brings to your palate. If you are an avid consumer, you probably dont even want these flavorless notes in your specialty drinks or desserts. Does that mean that stale coffee is doomed to die? Not necessarily!

Check out these ingenious tips on what to do with old coffee beans to minimize the waste:

Use for Cleaning Grind your beans coarsely and use them as a natural scrub to clean your burnt pans. Coffee beans even the stale ones are abrasive and acidic, and they make one killer cleaning ingredient.

Scrub-a-Dub Speaking of scrubbing, your old coffee may not be so friendly to your palate, but they can do wonders for your body. Take advantage of the natural antioxidants found in coffee and make a body scrub. Combine ½ cup of ground coffee, 1 tsp cinnamon, ½ cup coconut sugar, and 4 tbsp of coconut oil, and scrub away!

Use for Decoration If you have a spark of creativity within you, you can probably find many ways you can use coffee beans for decorative purposes. Glass jars, flower vases, candles, knife holders, you name it. The options are pretty unlimited, so let your imagination run wild.

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How Long Do Coffee Beans Last In A Vacuum

The lifespan of vacuum-sealed coffee is dependent on several factors, including coffee beans or grounds, the coffee quality, and, of course, the shelf-life.

As a rule, vacuum-packed bags of whole roasted coffee beans should have a shelf-life of around six months. After this point, there are noticeable effects on the flavour. Be aware that the taste of vacuum-packed beans will begin to deteriorate after only two weeks, however. So, the sooner you consume the beans, the better. You’ll still be able to use the coffee beans for up to 6-9 months past the shelf-life, though.

Coffee grounds, on the other hand, lose their flavour much quicker. That’s because, unlike beans, it has a much larger surface area. No sooner have the coffee beans been ground than the oxidation process has begun more on this in a minute. Therefore, even in a vacuum-sealed pack, expect your coffee grounds to last no longer than 3-5 months past the shelf-life.

So, even unopened coffee grounds expire. It just takes a long time.

Beans Vs Grounds: Breaking It Down


The rate at which coffee goes bad depends on its size and form. Obviously, ground and whole Java have a different lifespan.

Whole Beans

Whole coffee that hasnt been broken down and is still in a solid form lasts longer. On average, once you open the bag, you can expect to be drinking fresh brew for at least 6 months. Sealed beans, on the other hand, can stay fresh for up to 9 months in your pantry.

Ground Coffee

Beans that are broken down have a faster soiling rate. That is because the elements that negatively impact coffee have a larger surface to act on. This surface also allows the oily compounds trapped in the beans to evaporate quicker.

If stored properly , your coffee grounds can stay fresh for consumption for at least three months. If sealed, you can expect to enjoy rich flavor for up to 5 months.

Instant Coffee

Being an extremely broken down Java, youd think that Instant coffee spoils the fastest. After all, these tiny compounds have the largest surface area. But the truth? Quite the opposite!

Instant coffee is processed and, well, quite undestroyable. An open bag can last for at least two years in your pantry, while a sealed package can stay safe to consume for up to 20 years. Pretty unbelievable, huh?

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How Can You Tell If Coffee Has Gone Bad

Youll be able to tell if your coffee has gone bad based on how it looks and smells.

If you can see or smell any signs of mold, dont use any of it. Whether its before or after the expiration date its best to toss all the coffee in that bag/container.

Another sign your coffee is starting to degrade, would be if it has lost that full rich aroma. When the oils start to break down that delicious aroma will diminish which could indicate the oils have started to go rancid.

Can Instant Coffee Go Bad

Instant coffee is an extremely broken-down ground coffee, but unlike its bigger siblings it can last the longest. Practically indestructible, you can safely consume an opened package of Instant coffee for up to 2 years.

But the question remains can it go bad? Sure! Just like any type of coffee, Instant coffee can also turn rancid. To check if the coffee is spoiled, just smell it. If it has an off odor, then you should probably toss it away.

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Is Used Coffee Grounds Good For Gardens

Gardeners tout the virtues of used coffee grounds for their enrichment in soil and compost piles .

If you plan on this, make sure the grounds have time to dry out before adding them to the garden.

Old ground coffee may provide interesting effects when used with different art mediums, like paint or plaster.

Dry, whole roasted coffee beans can add flair inside decorative bottles or encased in resin tabletops.

How Long Will Coffee Keep In The Freezer Freezing Coffee: A Step

How Long Do Coffee Beans Stay Fresh?

In addition, you can freeze coffee to greatly extend its shelf life .

On the other hand, freezing coffee drastically reduces the flavor the more awe-inspiring aspects of the quality are lost, and cooled coffee will taste bland.

The quality of roasted beans and brewing technique has an impact on the final flavor. However, in most cases, your best chance is to use beans as close as possible to the roasting time .

So far, weve covered how to freeze a coffee bean in its whole. However, weve discovered innovative ways to preserve our tasty beverage using the freezer.

Would it be possible to freeze freshly brewed coffee? Yes, its functional. Its not a good idea to heat coffee and then consume it immediately instead, consider freezing it. The flavor is instantly altered as a result of this! Use frozen cubes on a tray to prevent diluting the flavor.

In any case, itd be a disaster for coffee enthusiasts. The ideal method is to store the coffee in the freezer, apart from strong odors.

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Keep Beans In Airtight Containers And In A Cool Place

The biggest coffee beans enemies are moisture, air, light, and heat. This means that if you want to preserve your beans fresh roasted flavor for as long a time as possible you should store them in dark airtight containers at room temperature. Although you might be tempted to display the magnificence of your coffee beans in your kitchen, light is bad for them and prolonged exposure might ruin your beverages taste.

Always store the beans in a dark and cool place. Placing them in a cabinet next to the oven will not do the trick neither will a spot on the kitchen countertop that usually gets the sun in the afternoons. You may wish to first repackage your coffee as retail packaging is not ideal for long-term storage. It is best to invest in storage coffee containers that have an airtight seal.

Cheap coffee storage jars not ideal: picture by Steve Snodgrass

The Joy Of Fresh Coffee Beans

A good way of getting fresh coffee beans is to buy them from an artisanal roaster. Check the date they were roasted on and buy beans as close to that date as possible. Usually, it is recommended that the beans be consumed within up to four weeks. However, they can last much longer.

So how long do coffee beans last? Provided theyre stored well, coffee beans can easily last months. However, they will lose flavor as time passes. If you wait too long, you might be stuck with stale coffee that doesnt have much by way of taste or aroma.

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Coffee Beans Vs Ground Coffee

Coffee beans will always last longer than ground coffee. This is because there is more surface area in coffee grounds which allows the oxygen to affect more of the coffee molecules at once. How long coffee beans and how long ground coffee lasts still depends on storage and preparation, but if you plan on keeping your coffee for a few months, it is best to keep them whole.

Coffee beans kept in an airtight container can last for up to 9 months , while coffee grounds can last for several months.

Does Coffee Go Bad

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Contrary to common belief, coffee can go bad. Like other beans, coffee contains natural oils. When these are exposed to air, the oils start to oxidize and eventually go rancid. Even when the coffee is stored away from oxygen, the coffee beans can still go rancid because of compounds that are produced from the roasting process.

Luckily, it usually takes a very long time for coffee beans to go rancid. This is why many people and even coffee manufacturers say it is safe to use expired coffee. However, long before the coffee goes rancid, it will lose its taste and aroma due to gassing off. This stale coffee is still safe to consume but isnt nearly as enjoyable to drink.

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How Do I Know If My Kopi Luwak Has Gone Bad

Unlike other foods, coffee beans do not change a lot in the way they look when they have gone bad. The beans may become lighter in color but this isnt always obvious, especially if you are not familiar with the type of coffee and the roast. The best way to tell if any coffee has gone bad is by smelling it. If the coffee is too old, it will have lost much of the pleasant aroma we all love so much.

How Long Do Coffee Beans Last Are Those Old Beans Still Good

Those of us who buy whole coffee beans have to deal with the question of how long to coffee beans last? The entire point of getting coffee beans is to enjoy the taste benefits that come from fresh ground coffee. Beans are edible products and instinctively, we believe there is a date when roasted coffee beans go bad.

As is the case with many things, that belief is only partially true. That doesnt mean we have to essentially discard the best before or use by dates on coffee. It means there are nuances to consider.

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Should You Buy Whole Beans Or Pre

Whether you should buy beans or pre-ground coffee really comes down to personal preference. “Most coffee aficionados opt to keep their coffee as whole bean right up to the point of brewing as this will keep the freshness of the coffee at its peak,” says Phillips. “I would actually suggest getting your coffee ground in a coffee shop’s professional gear, as having a good grind will treat your final cup better than the difference in freshness.”

How Long Should You Store Cold Brew Coffee

How long does coffee last &  storage tips to keep beans ...

Things change a little when were talking about cold brew coffee. When properly sealed cold brew coffee can be stored in the fridge for about two weeks.

It is brewed using cold or room temperature water so it has a different flavor profile than hot brewed coffee, its often sweeter lacking the bitter flavor notes that can come along with hot brewed coffee that has been cooled. Cold brew coffee is also a concentrate so it holds its flavor better.

Reheating coffee in the microwave affects the flavor negatively.

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