How Long Do Freshly Roasted Coffee Beans Last?
True coffee lovers know there's nothing quite like freshly roasted coffee beans. The aroma, tasting notes, and overall experience just hits different!
As roasters of premium specialty coffee, we're passionate about making great coffee and that starts with using freshly roasted beans in our brews.
But what about when you take beans home, how long will they stay fresh in your cabinet?
Freshly roasted coffee whole coffee beans can last up to a whole year in a sealed package, and one week to a month once opened. Ground coffee beans on the other hand have a shorter shelf life and will stay fresh for a few months unopened, but should be consumed within a few days once opened.
Whenever possible, we still recommend drinking coffee that has been roasted recently. But since that isn't always an option this guide can help you determine if your beans are still fresh enough to drink.
Factors That Impact How Long Coffee Stays Fresh
Properly packed and stored whole coffee beans have a relatively long shelf life, but a few factors determine exactly how long your beans will stay fresh. Let's take a look at a few of the variables that impact the freshness of your coffee.
Whole or Ground Beans
Whole coffee beans will stay fresh longer than beans that have already been ground. Grinding the beans exposes far more surface area to air. Exposure to oxygen in the air leads to the degradation of the bean as soluble compounds begin to oxidize.
If you've ever ground your own beans and noticed that the aroma of the beans is significantly more potent after grinding, then you've experienced this oxygen exposure in real time. Yes, that smell is incredible but it's also temporary and those aromas will quickly fade away.
We recommend purchasing whole beans if you can, especially if your goal if you are planning to store them for extended periods.
Unfortunately, you don't have any control over how the coffee company packaged and sealed the beans. But you do get to choose who you buy from, so let's look at the different methods used.
Industrial Packaging -- Industrial packaged beans have often been sitting in large storage containers for long periods of time between roasting and packaging. Then, they often sit in warehouses and grocer's shelves for weeks or perhaps even months before you take them home.
Hand Packing -- This is a method used by specialty and small-batch coffee roasters. After roasting, the beans are packaged and sealed away from the elements as quickly as possible. Each roaster may follow slightly different processes, but the overall commonality is that the freshly roasted coffee goes into the bag as quickly as possible.
As a coffee consumer, hand packaging is a sign we typically look for. This isn't because hand-packed coffees last longer, but because hand-packaged coffees are often packaged and shipped to consumers within a few days of being roasted, rather than weeks later.
The basics of coffee bean storage are:
1) Keep it airtight and sealed away from oxygen
2) Store it in a cool dark place
How the coffee is stored is the one variable you personally control, so we recommend checking out our guide on the Best Ways To Store Coffee At Home for a detailed breakdown of the best ways to maximize the life of your freshly roasted beans.
Do Coffee Beans Expire?
Yes, at some point all coffee beans will reach a point where they are no longer worth brewing. This could be because they have lost all the aroma and flavors that make coffee delicious. Or it could be because the coffee gets moldy or unsafe to drink.
How Can You Tell If Coffee Is Bad?
The best way to tell how coffee is bad is to use your senses of sight and smell. If the coffee smells rancid or looks moldy, we advise throwing it out.
Can You Drink 2 Year Old Coffee?
You can drink coffee that is two years old as long as it has been stored properly and doesn’t present any visual signs of mold. However, just because you can, doesn't mean you should. We don't want to advocate for food waste, but perhaps consider another use for old coffee such as composting, or use as an ingredient in a baked good where the freshness isn’t quite as important.