How long do coffee beans last?

A good cup of coffee can be the difference between a good day and a bad day. Thus it is best to know the details of how this brown treasure can be conserved to ensure that you never run out of this beautiful packet of natural energy. While sourcing and buying a good variety of the beans may be the first step, it is vital to know what to do next, how to store them, and for how long. So let’s dive in.

Raw Coffee Storage

The best way to store coffee for the longest period of time without affecting its taste and aroma is in its raw green form. The raw coffee bean looks and smells like a green crop and has a smooth feel to it. It tends to break apart easily with smooth edges. Colour uniformity is another indicator of the freshness of the raw coffee bean. Different types of beans will have different shades and shapes. It can retain its flavor for up to 5 years when stored properly. Beside raw coffee is significantly cheaper. It is best to store these in sealed packaging to ensure maximum shelf-life. Other forms of packaging usually have a manufacturing date that should be taken into account.

While the shelf life still remains significant, old beans are less desirable when it comes to taste and aroma. It becomes wrinkly, although the color basically remains the same. The smooth edges turn shriveled, and the grassy smell vanishes. The shelf life still decreases when the bean becomes old in comparison to fresher varieties. It is best not to buy these types of beans and put them into storage. Further one should be careful while buying and avoid coffee beans that have debris in their packaging like sand.

Roasted Coffee Storage

roasted coffee beans

If the unroasted kind of coffee is not available, you can store roasted coffee, but they will not last as long. The main reason behind this lies in the temperature required for roasting that unlocks the caffeine inside the beans, which in turn leads to the appearance and eventual evaporation of the characteristic flavourful oils.

The shelf-life of the cooked bean depends on the type of storage or packaging used. The longest time of storage is achieved through hermetically sealed jars industrially packaged. This can be stretched to last for up to 18 months. The next best method would be to store the roasted beans in heat-sealable bags that can preserve your coffee for up to 12 months. It is necessary for these bags to have a strategically positioned vent that helps to release the pent up carbon dioxide that may damage the shelf-life of the coffee. Four-layer paper bags with a good seal may help store your coffee for up to 6 months which can be stretched to 9 with an additional polymer coating. Foil packaging fashioned at home gives a shelf-life of 3 to 4 weeks, and common kitchen jars with no proper seals are only good for 10 to 15 days.

Read more: How to roast coffee beans at home.

Should I drink this expired coffee?

At one end of the spectrum, some spend years to ensure that their tongue never touches anything less than the perfect brew and at the other, there are those who are desperate and willing to try the oldest surviving coffee beans. The latter choice is ill-advised as the expiration of the coffee beans can cause severe issues such as food poisoning and vomiting. Besides coffee beans secrete very harmful substances over a long period of time, a problem that does not arise with instant coffee. You can recognize if your coffee has spoiled by the following signs:

  • A pungent flavor
  • Accumulation of undesirable odors
  • Moldy appearance
  • Less aromatic

While many remain satisfied with their store-bought instant coffee, they are missing out on the finer details of the perfect blend that can rejuvenate the senses. A faint flavour of hazelnut and raspberries is often felt in the freshest varieties that can add a spark to one’s life. Thus it is best to take the time to figure out what do you want in your morning cup of Joe so that you fine-tune your culinary needs when it comes to the natural beauty that is the coffee bean. 

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