Coffee freshness explained: how long will it last?
- Coffee freshness explained: how long will it last?
- What is coffee freshness and why is it important?
- How long does coffee stay fresh?
- How can you measure your coffee freshness?
- Why should you let your ground coffee rest before grinding it?
- How can you keep your coffee fresh at home?
- How can you test your coffee freshness?
- Does freezing your coffee impact the coffee freshness?
Coffee is grown and thus farmed and thus it will degrade over time. There are different stages when it comes to coffee and also for their freshness.
It seems that there are some guidelines out there that are ‘holy’ but the truth is that this is general guidance. There are a lot of differences between coffees, so there’s no one-size-fits-all.
Take some notes
Homebrewing coffee is complex and there are a lot of factors and different coffees out there.
One of the best pieces of advice we can give you is that it won’t hurt to note down these things as this can help you to give an indication of freshness.
It’s even more important when you have multiple coffees in stock.
If you didn’t keep track and some of your coffees are a lot over time and not fresh, don’t throw them away and give them a second life.
What is coffee freshness and why is it important?
Coffee freshness is the length of time coffee stays fresh and in good shape.
It’s important because it directly correlates to the flavor and taste of your cup. The longer your coffee sits out, the higher the losses and thus the lower the quality.
It’s key to keep track of your bought coffee and drink it rapidly after it’s ground or brewed.
However, there’s a lot of debate in the coffee world about this subject and there are a lot more areas we can explore.
Freezing your coffee can be an excellent choice but not many homebrewers know that you can do this with your coffee.
How long does coffee stay fresh?
We all might forget about this, but coffee is grown and will degrade over time.
We can store our coffee and try some hacks, even freeze it but it’s inevitable, it will downgrade over time and thus gradually lose its freshness.
The same goes for other products that will stay good for a long period if not opened or processed, like bread, nuts, and so on. Coffee is no exception.
We divide it up into 3 sections: from the green beans to the roasted beans to ground coffee.
Remember, this is general guidance, please keep track of your own experiences and write them down.
Unroasted coffee or green whole bean:
This will stay fresh for the longest time because there’s no process involved. Here we like to say a period of 12 to 24 months. Generally, up to 12 months will do.
When coffee is unroasted, it can last for years and will not lose its flavor or attributes like acidity.
Important factors are how the beans are stored and how the beans were dried, when the beans are green, this will be according to the dry method. (The other method is ‘whet’ and will leave beans with blue color).
Not every bean is the same. Some beans are denser than others.
Roasted coffee or whole bean:
From the moment the beans are roasted, their ‘freshness’ lifespan shortens heavily. Here we like to say a period between 1 week and about 3 months.
Roasting coffee breaks down the cellular structure and starts a process of oxidation that continues after we open our bags of coffee.
Important factors here are how the beans are packaged and what stage of roasting it has undergone.
The longer the beans are roasted, the darker the roast will be and the more freshness it loses. Shiny beans are oiled. This means that inner oils got to the exterior of the bean. When this gets into contact with air, its freshness will downgrade heavily.
On the contrary, their light roasted counterparts have a longer lifespan.
When the beans are roasted, their clock is ticking…
Ground coffee (Coffee freshness after grinding):
Generally, don’t grind more than you need, but what if you’ve bought a bag of ground coffee?
One tip is to divide it into small containers. You don’t want to put it all in a massive container, each time your brew the container will be opened and thus exposed to air, one of the worst enemies of your coffee’s lifespan!
Generally, up to 2 to 4 weeks.
How can you measure your coffee freshness?
Remember, this isn’t the exact science we provide of this matter. The rule of thumb we need to apply here is that we consume and process our green coffee beans as fast as we can.
When you buy coffee beans or ground coffee, you don’t know in all cases how old your coffee is and how it has been packed before it got in your kitchen cabinet.
Unroasted coffee or green whole bean:
This is a hard one to “crack”.
Not many homebrewers buy green beans and do everything by themselves.
Green beans are the results of a process that involved: selecting, processing, drying, storing, shipping, storing, buying before it reaches your kitchen or “lab” to be roasted.
You can buy roasters to roast your coffee beans at home.
Roasted coffee or whole bean:
When it comes to roasted coffee, there are other factors we need to think about when it comes to freshness.
When was the coffee roasted – again, keeping track is key, even when you do it at home – and how is the coffee stored?
Think about it, when coffee is roasted, its clock started to tick, so try to consume it as soon as you can. This doesn’t mean you need to drink it all and run around like some robot ;)!
Try to grind your roasted whole beans at home with a manual grinder or a more automatic grinder and think about the number of grounds you’ll need for your next batch of coffee!
However, it’s advised to let your coffee rest for a certain time.
Why should you let your ground coffee rest before grinding it?
You’ll want to let the coffee to degas! This is the process whereby carbon dioxide escapes. This process is beneficial for your brew as it will result in a great coffee experience.
Generally, this is about 2 weeks after the roasting process.
Tip: if you buy whole bean coffee, try to buy coffee with the roast date on, as you can use this for your rule of 2 weeks!
How can you keep your coffee fresh at home?
There are a lot of factors that can impact the freshness of your coffee: storing it, light, temperature, air, moisture. Some quick tips:
- You store your coffee best in a dry and airtight container. Mostly, you can give it a place in one of your kitchen cabinets as this is convenient, make sure it’s a dark place as light can downgrade the freshness as well. However, don’t put it in the cabinet close to the oven because heat is also a factor!
- Don’t put it in the fridge as humidity and coffee aren’t a great match! However, it can be a trick for used coffee grounds.
How can you test your coffee freshness?
A great and quick way is to grab some coffee beans and put them into a bag. Take a bag that you can seal easily, ziploc bags are ideal for this.
Before closing the bag, push out the air and seal them. Let it rest for one night in the bag and see the next morning.
Is the bag blown up? That’s a good sign because this means that the beans have degassed as this is an indication of their freshness.
Is the bag as flat as it was last evening? This means the best has left your beans but this doesn’t mean it can’t be consumed of course! Your coffee beans have gone stale!
Does freezing your coffee impact the coffee freshness?
This is an area that not many homebrewers know or use, to be honest. Freezing your coffee beans can prolong the lifespan of your coffee and almost completely preserve the quality of it, there might a small loss but that’s with every process.
How to freeze your coffee beans:
- Divide it in small bags or containers and write everything down on a label. Make sure to seal it very good because other odors of other products will affect your coffee taste.
- Take it outside your freezer and let it thaw gradually. Here we say a few hours before your next brew
We hope you found some ideas to help you start your day with a coffee!
It’s safe to say that freshness is key when it comes to homebrewing and consuming coffee.
However, we like to take this with a small pinch of salt and so should you! Freshness doesn’t have an exact metric and falls within a range which you need to consume your coffee and follows a trend. Don’t just think the faster the better.
You can easily have a less good coffee when you brew it too fast and don’t let it rest to degas.
Generally, the 2nd/3rd week after the roasting is ideal. Don’t panic if you can’t brew your coffee within this range. Keep sealing them with Swiss precision and enjoy the ride.
Remember, this is a general rule of thumb, the important thing is to try it out for yourself and track what you experience. Every coffee is different, so don’t panic if it’s not within a specific time range, you can be quite surprised with the results.
Can old coffee beans make you sick?
No, you shouldn’t worry about this. Generally, this won’t be the case as long as you’ve sealed them right and brew them right. Coffee beans don’t get to the degree when coffee makers get moldy or bread goes bad. Just know that the taste won’t be as it should have been. Think about how you can avoid this in the future such as labeling and dividing in smaller packages.
Can you store coffee in a clear container?
Yes, but we don’t advise it. Light, temperature, and air are some of the most important factors that can impact freshness. If you can, use a dry and dark place to store your coffee.
Can you store coffee in a plastic container?
Yes but there are better alternatives. Make sure the container is easy and good to close, dry and dark. Light, temperature, and air are some of the most important factors that can impact freshness.
Does coffee lose freshness?
Yes. Coffee is an agricultural product and downgrades over time. Important factors that contribute to this are temperature, light, air, and moisture. Every action that the coffee has undergone in its short lifespan can contribute to this loss of freshness. Try to consume your coffee within a respectable time if you can but don’t worry if it’s longer because coffee that’s preserved in a good way, won’t make you sick but give you a flat coffee experience.
How long is coffee considered fresh after opening?
The answer depends on a lot of things as not every coffee is the same. Generally ground coffee up to 1 month and coffee beans up to 3 months after roasting date. We assume that everything has been stored in the right way of course. Don’t panic if this isn’t within this “expected” timeframe as this doesn’t always result in a bad coffee experience. You can be surprised by this!
Does coffee need to be stored in a dark container?
Yes, coffee is best stored in a dark and dry container. You’ll want to place it where there are no high fluctuations in temperature, where there’s no light, and so on.
Do coffee beans stay fresher than ground coffee?
Yes, always! Coffee beans are ‘packed’ and ground coffee ‘unpacked’. The grinding of the bean results in the coffee grounds and creates a larger surface. This means that air (oxygen) has more chances to affect the coffee and its freshness.
Is it bad to drink a day-old coffee?
No, not at all. Coffee can sit out for a long time. It depends on what type of coffee you’re drinking. Our rule of thumb is that within the day, you’ll be fine but after 2 days, just throw it away and brew smaller batches in the future to avoid this!
How does freshness affect coffee?
As with most grown and farmed products, they are best consumed within a certain timeframe and this is the same for coffee. Freshness is a strong indicator of the quality and flavors of your brewed coffee.
Enjoy your coffee!