Second to picking the right coffee, properly storing coffee beans is one of the most important factors in making a delicious cup. Knowing the proper shelf life of coffee can help you save time, money, and frustration in the long run. In this guide, explore how freshness impacts taste and learn how to store your coffee at home to maximize flavor and freshness!
How Long Does Coffee Last?
One of the largest contributions specialty coffee has made to the coffee-drinking culture around the globe is the idea that freshness and quality are inextricably linked. In other words, the sooner you can brew a coffee after it is roasted, the better. As a general rule of thumb, an opened bag coffee should be enjoyed within 2-4 weeks after roasting.
At our Roasterie Cafes, we build in several days of “rest” for our coffees between roasting and brewing. “Rest” refers to the process of letting carbon dioxide escape from the coffee beans, which gets built up during the roasting process. (This is why you see a one-way valve on every Roasterie coffee bag!) Letting your coffee rest allows for even extraction during brewing (no matter your brew method), which will result in a sweeter, balanced expression of flavor in your coffee. Using this philosophy, we recommend you begin enjoying coffee 3 days after roasting for brewed coffee, and 7 days after roasting for espresso.
However, many other factors affect coffee freshness. Ultimately, how long your coffee beans last depends on the state the coffee is in and how you plan on storing them once the bag is opened.
Factors that impact coffee freshness
The main factors that impact the freshness of coffee are light, air, time, moisture, and purchasing ground coffee:
- Sunlight: Exposing your coffee to heat and UV rays can quickly deplete your beans of flavor
- Oxygen: Just like most perishable food, the organic molecules within coffee break down and lose their flavor integrity with prolonged exposure to oxygen. This process is called oxidation.
- Time: Over time, coffee will start to become less fresh. It’s as simple as that.
- Moisture: As a porous substance, coffee beans absorb the flavor of things around it when exposed to moist, humid conditions.
- Purchase Ground Coffee: When coffee beans are ground before you are ready to brew, the oxidation process is accelerated. Ground coffee goes state faster than whole beans because of the greater surface area of coffee being exposed to oxygen at once.
So, do coffee beans go bad?
Although coffee beans don’t technically expire, they can lose their flavor and aroma. (And in our opinion, that means they are bad). Proper coffee storage and drinking your coffee in a timely manner is the best way to preserve the consistent, exceptional coffee drinking experience our roasters intended!
5 Tips for Maximizing coffee Freshness
It may seem like coffee is a straightforward beverage. And for the most part, it is. But there are tips and tricks for maximizing coffee freshness that helps guarantee every cup is delicious!
Keep fresh coffee beans in an airtight container
Storing coffee in a sealed container is one of the most impactful steps you can take to extend the life of your coffee. Our Airscape Can is the perfect coffee storing solution–the patented valve forces oxygen out of the container before locking the airtight lid in place. With The Roasterie on the front and our iconic DC-3 airplane on the back, this canister will look great in your kitchen while preserving your favorite Roasterie coffee!
Stay away from light
Coffee prefers darkness. For this reason, we recommend using a canister or container that isn’t transparent. If you are preferential to glass jars, consider keeping it in a pantry or cupboard instead of out in the open.
Buy the whole bean
Because ground coffee loses freshness much faster than whole bean coffee, we recommend buying whole bean every time. Only grind your coffee beans right before you brew to maximize coffee freshness.
Coffee grinders are one of the most important tools for making a fantastic cup of coffee. If you’re looking to freshen up your homebrew setup, or are just starting out, we highly recommend investing in a high-quality burr grinder to optimize flavor (To learn more about burr grinders, check out our post!) The Baratza Encore and Baratza Virtuoso are two of our favorite easy-to-use, highly customizable grinder options for any brew method.
If you’re unable to grind at home, we offer all of our coffees in customizable grind size options for your convenience.
Buy only when you need to
We recommend buying your coffee in smaller batches to maintain optimal freshness. If you’re an avid coffee lover, consider signing up for a Roasterie coffee subscription so your favorite coffee arrives at your door only when you need it!
Don’t keep coffee in the fridge or freezer!
We have customers who ask us, “How long does coffee last in the fridge?” The answer is not long! In fact, we recommend avoiding your fridge for coffee storage entirely. That’s because refrigerators are naturally moist locations full of other food and beverages.
Roasted coffee is very porous and will absorb the moisture and odors within your fridge and freezer, impacting the integrity of your coffee’s flavor.
Bottom line: Fresh, cool, dark and dry
All of this is to say that you should store your fresh coffee beans in a cool, dark, dry place. Make our roasters proud this year by finding a sustainable and smart way to store coffee beans to ensure the best possible cup of joe time and time again.