What is the shelf life of fresh coffee? Does coffee even go bad, and if it does, how do you know when it’s gone too far and needs to be trashed?
The shelf life of fresh coffee depends on many things. From the date printed on your freshly roasted beans, to how the coffee is stored (here are our favorite ways), to even the preparation method. So let’s look at all the information and see if we can figure out the answer to this perplexing question.
What is the Shelf Life of Fresh Coffee
First, let’s look at where coffee starts — the freshly roasted coffee beans. For the first couple of weeks after the coffee has been roasted it will naturally release a lot of carbon dioxide.
Because of that, you need to make sure that your beans are stored in an airtight container and have some sort of one-way vent valve to let the gas out.
Most freshly roasted coffee beans come in pre-sealed coffee bags that have a built-in one-way valve. These are ideal for keeping coffee beans fresh for longer periods of time.
Once the coffee beans are roasted, the flavour compounds immediately start to diminish. The best rule of thumb is not to buy beans unless you know their roasting date.
Here’s a note —
When you purchase coffee grounds or beans from a roaster, they do come with an expiration date.
If stored in ideal conditions and in the right places, the beans should remain in peak condition for at most one month.
Shelf Life of Fresh Ground Coffee
Whenever beans are ground and you have leftover coffee, the best bet is to use it up as soon as possible. Storing fresh ground beans is not recommended because the minute they are ground, they start to lose their flavour.
Only grind what you intend to use for the freshest tasting coffee. Coffee beans begin to slowly lose their flavour soon after grinding as the oils begin to evaporate. How long you choose to use your coffee after the best by date really depends on how particular you are about the taste of your coffee.
You can freeze whole beans for up to a month, provided you’re not taking them out during that period. If you freeze them, be sure to remove the frozen beans and allow them to thaw before using them.
Most home storage containers still let in small amounts of oxygen, which is why food stored a long time in the freezer can suffer freezer burn. Therefore, if you do refrigerate or freeze your beans, be sure to use a truly airtight container.
How to Tell if Coffee Has Gone Bad
No matter how old coffee gets, it looks the same, so how can you tell when it has gone bad? The best way to tell if it has gone bad is to use your nose.
When coffee goes bad, the pleasant aroma will be gone and with it much of the taste. Using coffee that has gone bad won’t make you sick — so don’t worry if you have drunk any recently.
It will just not have much flavour if the smell is gone. It may also lose its deep dark colour and appear a lighter brown.
There are, of course, certain health risks associated with spoiled drinks so always remember to practice food safety and enjoy your drinks before their shelf life has expired!
What is the Best Rule of Thumb When it Comes to Coffee
If you want to make sure that your coffee always has the perfect flavour, here are some tips to get you started in the right direction.
- Buy less coffee, just more often: Be sure to always buy coffee in an amount that you expect you’ll drink within its the time frame of the freshness. If you’re buying whole bean coffee, buy only the amount you expect to use within a month. Then grind only as many beans as you need, just before your brew your coffee. If you’re buying ground coffee, purchase enough for a week or two at most.
- Store Coffee: Be sure to store your coffee in airtight containers. Avoid heat, light, moisture, and air regardless of wether you purchase whole beans or ground coffee.
- Coffee Box Subscription: Using a subscription coffee box service like Blue Coffee Box will help to ensure that you are getting freshly roasted coffee every single time.
To enjoy the best possible cup of coffee at home, make sure your coffee is always fresh. Beans are best, but if you prefer ground coffee instead, always look for the best sell by date.