Last Updated on February 3, 2023 by Pinpoint 250
How Long Does Coffee Last?
The coffee must be fresh to enjoy the best cup possible. But how do we judge freshness? Here are a few basic principles to keep in mind when determining how long does coffee last.
Coffee is freshest immediately upon roasting (even though you wouldn’t want to use it right after roasting). If you live close to one of the many small artisan roasting companies, you can easily purchase the freshest beans or ask them to grind them to your specifications.
Freshly roasted beans emit carbon dioxide for several weeks following
roasting, and it is a natural process.
Why Is Carbon Dioxide Even Present In Coffee?
Beans are subject to several chemical reactions throughout roasting.
Beans start to brown, complex carbohydrates brake down into simpler molecules, and creates a lot of water vapor and carbon dioxide.
However, carbon dioxide in your beans isn’t bad because it’s crucial to the flavor of your cup.
In a 2018 study that was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. “it is a signal for freshness, plays a significant effect in shelf life and packaging, impacts the extraction process, is engaged in crema creation, and may affect the sensory profile in the cup.”
Carbon Dioxide is essential to the life of your beans and more so with preground coffee.
When the beans are fresh, carbon dioxide is abundant; however, a process called Degassing goes on throughout the roasting and continues after roasting.
How long Does Degassing Require?
Degassing hence enables the release of carbon dioxide produced during roasting. However, we don’t want the gas to dissipate completely.
We should instead brew when there is just enough of it available. Coffee that is adequately carbonated won’t taste stale or flat.
But the length of time after roasting relies on several variables.
Experts believe that an ideal period for brewing is generally between three days and two to three weeks following roasting.
However, because each coffee is unique, a varied degassing time is neccesary.
This duration depends on the brewing technique, processing decisions, and roast character.
The Enemies of Beans/Grounds
The enemies of fresh coffee are oxygen, moisture, heat, and light. All of which speed up the oxidation process and reduce its freshness.
This oxidization process causes the oils in the beans to turn rancid. losing taste and aroma, and leaving you with a stale cup.
It’s not that coffee suddenly turns from being great, flavorsome, and aromatic to being stale, dull, and rancid.
Instead, it is a slow process, and properly packaging prevents oxygen, moisture, and light from getting at your beans/grounds.
The Packaging is Important
The packaging is essential; and why most of the prominent commercial companies package their beans in one-way valved sealed bags. Allowing the carbon dioxide to escape but preventing oxygen from entering the bag.
Vacuum-packed beans can last for a considerable time without spoiling while still keeping (most of) their freshness, taste, and aroma.
Once you have bought beans, you should keep the package away from moisture, high temperature, and light.
Carbon dioxide brings your coffee’s oils into the coffee itself. It’s critical for bringing out the taste and smell of your brew.
When we grind beans, there is more surface area for the carbon dioxide to escape before you drink it.
If you let your ground beans sit for days, they will lose most of their carbon dioxide.
If you grind your beans freshly before you brew, the right amount of flavor will seep into your drink. Giving you a delicious cup every time.
We will take a closer look at the difference between grinding fresh beans every morning; versus buying ground beans. And show you how to store coffee beans for high quality and freshness.
If you store your beans properly packaged you can keep them fresh for up to a few weeks after roasting, but no longer.
When it comes to ground coffee. You should buy a small amount at a time to prevent brewing with not so fresh grounds.
To freeze or not freeze?
There’s a debate in the industry about freezing coffee. Some say you should freeze it; others say you shouldn’t.
I stick to what my roaster tells me: buy enough for a few weeks and keep it somewhere chilly and dark.
Therefore, keeping it in an airtight, opaque container in a dark, cool, dry place is better.
A proper way to store beans is to divide it into smaller portions. Keep about half of it in one container and the rest in another.
This way, you can use one container for a week, and the other half isn’t exposed to air every time you open the can.
Do Beans or Ground Coffee Go Bad?
The answer is a bit complicated because although coffee can “spoil” and provide a less-than-optimal taste experience, coffee does not become unusable as other foods do.
Yes, the beans or the grounds will go stale and can taste cloudy over time, but they are almost always safe to use and brew if stored properly.
The best-before date on the bag or plastic container indicates how long the beans will remain in prime quality.
However, if you buy quality coffee beans from a local coffee shop, you can tell the difference in taste in just a few weeks.
Your coffee beans will last a few weeks before the nice aromatic flavor fades. but as long as you store your coffee in a cool, dark place, they can be safely consumed for months.
The flavor won’t be as wonderful as it was before. I bought it because all those excellent aromatic compounds that give coffee its rich, nuanced flavors have floated into the air.
You might be unsure how to determine whether your coffee is really “bad” since there is no difference between fresh and old beans. Trust your senses.
The new coffee beans have a rich aroma. Depending on the variety and roast, you can smell all kinds of notes like the general coffee aroma and other smells like caramel or slightly fruity.
Old coffee has a stale, flat smell that smells more on the burnt carbon side of the roasting equation and less like the flavor side of great coffee.
You can also see when you cook it. The taste of old coffee is sour.
If you take a sip and your first thought is to hide the spill, coffee flavor with creamers, sugar, or something else to bring out the sour bitterness, your beans are well past their expiration date.
How long do coffee beans last?
Coffee beans that have not been processed can survive for several months without noticeable damage to the taste. As the solid form of the bean keeps many of the volatile aromatic compounds inside and protects the oils and the like from oxidation.
However, if it is not stored correctly, the quality and taste will decrease more and more over time.
The delicate aroma components deteriorate when the coffee beans come into contact with oxygen.
The oils in your coffee beans are also impacted by oxidation. You are making them taste bitter and unpleasant.
Several other reasons your coffee beans may not last as long as you would like. Heat and light are two other ingredients that accelerate the decomposition of the beans.
Another adversary of coffee beans, moisture can ruin your beans, rendering them unusable.
In this section, you will notice that we only talked about beans, not ground coffee. Now let’s look at the differences between the two.
Should you purchase ground coffee or coffee beans?
Any coffee lover will tell you that whole beans (ground before use) bought from a coffee shop or specialty roast are the best choice.
If optimal taste and freshness is your number one goal, then it’s right.
Once the coffee is ground, you start an instant (and fast) countdown. At the same time, some people are okay with varying flavors for convenience.
The flavor profile between whole beans and preground is night and day when it comes to ground coffee.
If you have been buying ground coffee for decades but want the quality of the cup you would get from a coffee shop; your answer is to switch to whole beans.
When buying beans, look for sealed bags with a small hole above a round valve on the side.
The coffee beans “degas” after roasting, and this small valve allows the gas to escape without pressuring the bag while keeping outside air away from the beans.
Also, pay attention to the roasting date.
Every item over a couple of weeks old has declined in flavor intensity.
That’s fine, but the closer you get to just roasting, the better off you’ll be. If there is no roast date on a bag, consider skipping it and choosing a coffee brand that gives more information.