How Long Do Coffee Beans Last | Shelf Life & Storage - 2021

As one of the most popular drinks in the world, coffee comes in many different forms. But exactly how long do coffee beans last?

Coffee is easily one of the most popular drinks in the world and comes in many different forms. It can be difficult, though, to know the best way to tell if your product is still useable in order to get the perfect tasting brew. Of course most pre-packaged bags will provide a use by date, but this isn’t necessarily always available or can be questionable, so how long does coffee last?

In this article we will talk about the best methods of storing your coffee to ensure it lasts as long as possible.

How Long Do Coffee Beans Last?

With so many different ways coffee is prepared, there isn’t simply one answer to go by when asking how long coffee can last. The best way to answer the question is by taking the different preparation techniques, and how that affects the shelf-life. Coffee is a natural product and, as such, has a limited time during which the flavors will develop as intended.

Do Coffee Beans Go Off?

how long coffee beans last

Roasted coffee beans

Coffee beans are just like any other fresh produce, and will go off eventually.

They have a relatively long shelf life, though, so there’s no need to be changing them around as often as every week, but you should be aware of what it means when the beans go off, and how it affects the end product.

How Long Is Coffee Good For?

You can quickly check your coffee to see if it has gone bad by looking at the color and by smelling it. It will never become awful, but may lose the strength of its color and potency of its smell, something that will result in a weaker tasting drink.

The shelf life of coffee will be affected by two main factors: the type of coffee, and how it is stored.

Ground Coffee

If ground coffee is in a packet that remains unopened, it will be absolutely fine to use for up to five months after its use before date if you have stored it in the pantry, or for up to two years if you store it in the freezer. If the package has been opened it will be fine for up to five months after the use by date if stored in the panty, or five months if stored in the freezer.

Whole Coffee Beans

If whole coffee beans are in packets that remain unopened, they will be good to use for up to nine months beyond the use by date if they are stored in the pantry, or three years beyond the use by date if stored in the freezer. If, on the other hand, the packet has been opened, they will be fine to use for up to six months after the printed date if stored in the pantry, and two years if kept in the freezer.

Instant Coffee

Instant coffee, whether it has been opened or not, can be good to use for up to 20 years if stored in the pantry, and indefinitely if kept in the freezer.

So, if you’re wondering ‘how long do coffee beans last once opened?’, then you can see from this that the storage method and way the bean has been prepared will determine that.

Extending the Shelf Life of Roasted Coffee Beans

If you don’t think you’ll finish your coffee before it starts to go off you can consider a number of things that will help to extend its shelf life. The reason why coffee goes off is mainly because the oils start to evaporate. As with other food stuff, this happens quicker with a larger surface area, so ground coffee will start to spoil a lot sooner than the whole bean. Because of this, it is better to only grind the beans when you want to use them, rather than doing them all at once.

The best way to extend the life of your coffee, no matter its state, is by putting it in the freezer. This won’t actually freeze it, so it will be ready to use straight away after taking out, but the colder temperatures prevent the evaporation.

How Long Do Green Coffee Beans Last?

Coffee is an incredibly popular drink worldwide and is available in lots of different forms. Some people prefer to buy beans that have not been roasted, but how long do green coffee beans last? In this article we will explore the reason for choosing green coffee beans instead of roasted ones, and how that affects the way you store them.

What are Green Coffee Beans?

raw beans

Green coffee beans

Usually when you buy coffee beans you will be getting a roasted bean that is ready to be ground and brewed, but if you want to do the roasting yourself then you will, instead, need to purchase green coffee beans.

They are the form of the bean that is harvested from the crop, and will be green in color as opposed to the brown color you traditionally associate with coffee.

Tips For Buying Green Coffee Beans

By buying green coffee beans you are essentially getting raw coffee, so you should watch out for a few things.

  • You will want the beans to all come from the same place, and ideally be a similar size to each other. They should be a bright color, so avoid any that are uneven or dull.
  • You will also need to ask about how the beans are harvested and whether they are processed immediately after being picked. Failure to do so will result in an unpleasant, fermented drink.
  • You should also pick them up, run them through your hands, and smell them. If they feel fragile they have been over dried; and if they feel soft they haven’t been dried enough. In both of these cases they are not ideal and you should purchase from a different batch. The smell is also a good clue about how fresh they are, as you will be easily able to determine any smoke damage or fermentation.

What do People use Green Coffee Beans For?

The process of roasting a bean causes changes in its structure so it will cause it to start to deteriorate and lose its flavor within about six weeks.

Green coffee beans, on the other hand, remains pretty stable for a long period of time. You can, in fact, store it for up to a year without any noticeable changes in quality of the final drink, so storing green coffee beans long term is a far more feasible prospect.

How to Store Green Coffee Beans

As with all food products, green coffee bean shelf life will be affected by the way in which you store them.

If you are planning on using the fresh beans within a few months of purchase then it will be fine to leave them in the bags you got them in, and leave them on a shelf or in your pantry at room temperature. If you think it will be longer until you use them you should store them in a way that lets them breath to further extend their shelf life.

To do this you could put them in a Ziploc bag, for example, and occasionally open it and give a shake so air passes over them. Another option is to store them in cotton coffee bags and keep them at a temperature lower than 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

The ideal storage conditions for unroasted coffee beans are a temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit, with a humidity of about 60%. A higher humidity than this will encourage mold to grow, and a lower humidity will dry the beans out and result in a dull taste.

For coffee purists, buying green coffee beans can be one of the best ways to get the flavors you want. It allows you to roast them under the conditions you want and be more aware of the quality of bean you are using.

So, how long do green coffee beans last? It can be tough to know, but if you keep them in the right conditions you will find that they retain their flavor for much longer than roasted beans.

How Long Does Ground Coffee Last?

If you, like me, are fond of the various different flavors available, you may have a number of different blends in your home so you can vary what you drink. This means that the ground coffee can end up being on the shelf for a long time, and can risk it going off.

The Shelf Life of Ground Coffee

how long ground coffee beans last

Ground coffee

Whether it is still in the form of whole beans, or ground up ready to use, coffee immediately starts losing its flavor when it is exposed to the environment. This is because the oils responsible for the rich taste begin to evaporate.

Ground coffee has a much larger surface area than the bean, and the process of grinding also agitates everything, so it will go off sooner than coffee in any other form. At this stage it is ready to make a drink, but it is also the form of coffee in its most vulnerable stage.

It’s important to note that when we talk about coffee going off, it won’t get to a stage where it becomes unsafe to drink. Instead it will lose its flavors, so the resulting drink won’t be anywhere near as rich or smooth as you will want it to be. The use by dates you will see on a packet of coffee refer to the time within which you will get the best taste, but you will find that the fresher the better, and as soon as you open it the quality will start to decline.

Ground coffee in an unopened packet will still be good to use for up to five months beyond the use by date if stored in your pantry, or for up to two years beyond the use by date if you store it in the freezer. If the packet has been opened it will be usable for up to five months beyond the date if stored in the pantry, and the same amount of time if stored in the freezer.

How to Keep Ground Coffee Fresh

If you are concerned that it will go off, and you want to learn how to make coffee last longer, then luckily, you can do a few things.

Plan Accordingly

The first thing to understand is that whole coffee beans last longer than ground coffee. If you do everything yourself, you should only grind enough coffee for a week at a time, rather than doing everything you have at once. You should avoid grinding the whole bean as much as possible (except, of course, when you are about to drink it). This way the product will last longer and retain more flavor.

Store it Properly

Ground coffee tastes fresher out of a new packet, so you should only open it when you are ready for your first drink. Rather than leaving a half empty packet on the shelf, the more of an airtight seal you are able to achieve every time you store it away, the fresher it will taste when you use it again.

To do this you can pour it into an airtight container, or a sealed bag. Exposure to air, sunlight, and water causes coffee to deteriorate, so the more you protect it from these, the longer it will last and fresher it will taste.

Fresh coffee provides a much smoother and flavorsome experience than using instant granules but, as with all foodstuffs, ground coffee will lose its taste if it is stored for too long. It won’t become dangerous, but it certainly won’t be anywhere near as pleasurable. When looking at how long does ground coffee last, the answer is for a number of months beyond the use by date, but it starts to lose its quality as soon as you open the packet or grind the bean.

Final thoughts

In conclusion, the best cup of coffee you will ever get will be from freshly ground beans that have not been stored for too long at all. The flavor comes from all of the oils and chemicals within the bean; substances that are slowly released in its lifetime. The longer you keep it for, the more of these substances it loses, and the weaker the resulting drink will be.

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