For those of us who drink coffee out of love for its taste and aroma – instead of mindlessly just to wake up in the morning – ensuring the coffee’s freshness is important.
How long coffee beans last is helpful to know if you plan on drinking fresh coffee, and it can sometimes be hard to tell since they don’t exactly come with an expiration date.
When you get coffee from your roaster, the pack will say when it was roasted. With a few simple rules of thumb, you’ll be able to tell how long they’ll stay fresh for, as well as what you can do to make them last longer.
Let’s take a look!
How Long Do Coffee Beans Last?
Different types of beans have different shelf lives.
Other factors that go into determining how long they last include how they were grown, harvested, processed, and stored.
But in general, freshly roasted coffee beans that have been stored adequately should last you up to 3 months.
Why Do They Lose Freshness?
Shelf Life & Storage
Coffee doesn’t really ‘go bad’, but storing coffee beans for too long, in general, will end up in a loss of taste and aroma. They sadly don’t last forever!
The fact that coffee beans are dry means they will last you longer (than other types of coffee), but make sure you also store them in a dry place.
Storing coffee beans in a humid environment might lead to bacterial, yeast, and or mold growth.
When beans are roasted, they go through a natural process called ‘degassing’ in which they release carbon dioxide.
This is why there are holes in coffee bean bags: they allow the carbon dioxide to escape without letting in oxygen or moisture that could ruin the beans.
But once the degassing process is finished and the beans stop releasing carbon dioxide, they start absorbing oxygen and begin to oxidize. That hole could sadly only keep them fresh for so long.
And to touch back on the first point, not storing your beans properly could also lead to a faster oxidation process and therefore you’ll lose freshness sooner.
How to Tell If Coffee Beans Are Off
Taste and Smell
Stale coffee lacks flavor and aroma.
If all you taste in your coffee is bitterness, and none of those good flavor notes we love about coffee, they have probably well surpassed their freshness date.
And if smelling them also brings out nothing, then there you have your answer.
You’ll know your beans are fresh when they have that attractive shine.
If your beans look dull and matte, the oils that made them look glossy have probably dried up.
A simple way to check for coffee beans’ oils and whether or not they have dried out causing the coffee to go stale is if they leave a residue in your hands.
So feel the coffee beans: if there’s a residue left, that’s a good sign! It means those delicious oils are still there.
How to Store Coffee to Make It Last Longer
The number one tip to properly storing your coffee beans is to keep them in a cool, dry, and dark place.
You can also invest in an opaque airtight container: this will ensure heat and light won’t get to your coffee beans as much.
And that’s all great for when you want to store coffee beans properly for how long they’ll last, but can you extend their shelf life?
The answer is yes! You can extend your coffee beans’ shelf lives by up to a couple of months to preserve their rich flavor and aroma by freezing them in sealable bags.
This ultimately exposes them to less oxygen, which is why they’ll last you for longer.
And then just thaw your beans throughout the day right before using them!
Coffee is happiness, but the saddest part is when it’s not fresh anymore.
You can choose to ignore the fact that your coffee beans’ freshness has reached its capacity – after all, the difference in taste is not that drastic (we mean pre-stale!).
But at the end of the day, nothing compares to a cup of freshly brewed coffee made using fresh coffee beans. So make sure you store them properly in a dry environment or even freeze them to get them to last longer.