Most coffee lovers know the importance of a delicious coffee bean. With its unique blend of flavors, they’re the heart and soul of the drink we all love. With a wide array of tastes and smells, many coffee lovers choose to prepare their coffee with fresh coffee beans to create the best end product.
All of us have walked through the grocery store or supermarket, picked up an item, and checked the expiration date. This guide proves itself useful, but the standard practice on coffee beans is a little different. Most manufacturers will provide the date which the beans were roasted, but give no indication of an expiration date.
This practice may leave you a little confused as you ask yourself: How long are my coffee beans truly safe to consume? There are no strict rules to abide by, but the following information will help you make the best choice the next time you’re faced with throwing away or keeping a bag of coffee beans.
Some people don’t care about the aroma and flavor as much as other people. When considering your options, ask yourself what your priorities and preferences are?
A morning dose of caffeine or indulging in a wonderful cup of joe? This will impact how you store and evaluate your coffee beans.
Storing your Beans Safely
A major indicator of your bean’s freshness is their storage situation. What elements you’re your beans been exposed to? Things like humidity, direct sunlight, or high temperatures can alter the taste and longevity of your coffee. Generally speaking, the more effort you put into storing your beans, the better results you’ll get.
For people looking to get a longer shelf life out of their coffee, there are several strategies to preserve the beans. One of the most common tactics is storing the beans in an airtight container to minimize the effects of oxidation. Because sunlight can still reach the beans, clear containers are not ideal, so choose a fun color to block some light!
In their airtight container, make sure to avoid “hot spots” in your kitchen and keep the beans somewhere cool and dry.
Others intentionally select beans which are vacuum sealed and are safe to consume after their expiration as well, but the retail packaging is never as secure as an airtight container.
Can I Freeze Them?
You might be wondering: Is it possible to freeze your beans?
Although the topic is controversial within the coffee world, the answer is Yes!
Some people choose to freeze their bag of beans which can extend their shelf life for upwards of three years. However, don’t refreeze beans that have already been frozen because this will dramatically impact the taste.
Oxidation’s Impact on Freshness
You might have heard of oxidation in your high-school chemistry class, but chances are you need a quick refresher! Oxidation is a simple chemical reaction that essentially means that a compound gains oxygen. Surprisingly, this process does not alter or affect the caffeine in the bean.
As the coffee beans accumulate more oxygen, the flavor and aroma of coffee beans will gradually become unpleasant and eventually, you will find yourself with stale beans.
Airtight containers are the best way to combat the effects of oxidation.
Roasting: Does it make a Difference?
Whole roasted beans coffee beans will remain fresh for 2 to 3 weeks.
Immediately following roasting, coffee beans begin to lose their freshness, although it happens gradually.
In comparison to green beans, they won’t stay safe to consume as long and you need to monitor their storage conditions carefully. As a general rule of thumb, the darker the roast, the more rapidly the bean will lose its flavor.
When choosing your beans from the score, check their roasting date to ensure it has been within the past six weeks. If not, find another roast. You can also consider the color of the bean when you are choosing your blend too.
Green Beans—Not that Kind!
Most people buy beans already roasted, but some coffee lovers are adventurous and roast their own.
If you prefer purchasing green beans, here is a breakdown of how long they’ll last. Depending upon how your vacuum is packed and sealed, they can last for several years if they are stored appropriately.
Once open, the green beans will be good for one or two years before declining in quality and flavor.
Regardless of what type of coffee bean you choose, storing for maximum freshness and quality will be essential to upgrading your coffee game the next time you brew a cup!