Last updated on March 3rd, 2024 at 11:31
When you buy expensive coffee beans the first thing that you will be thinking of is the shelf life of coffee beans and how you can extend their shelf life so you can keep enjoying your premium quality coffee beans for as long as you possibly can.
This article gets down to the details and tell you what the shelf life of coffee beans are and what you can do to extend their shelf life for months and even years.
Keep reading to find out all about the shelf life of your beans and the simple actions that you can take to keep them fresh.
Shelf Life Of Coffee Beans
Table Of Contents
- 1 Shelf Life Of Coffee Beans
- 2 Shelf Life Of Roasted Coffee Beans – The Effect Of The Roast Level
- 3 How To Keep Coffee Beans Fresh For Months
- 4 Starbucks Coffee Beans Expiration Date
- 5 Frequently Asked Questions About Shelf Life Of Coffee Beans
- 6 Final Thoughts – Shelf Life Of Coffee Beans
The shelf life of coffee beans and how long they will stay good for varies depending on a number of factors, including how you store them and the roast beans that you have. Even the environment that you live in plays it’s role.
Of course, the simple variable of having opened the beans or not has an effect on the shelf life of coffee beans.
Another factor that affects the shelf life of coffee is the simple act of them being ground of whole beans.
Let’s get to the details. An unopened pack of whole coffee beans will have a shelf life of 6-9 months. Comparing this to unopened preground coffee, which has a shelf life of 3-5 months.
Why Do Whole Beans Have A Longer Shelf Life?
When your coffee beans have been ground, regardless of the grind size, the surface area increases. Increasing the surface area increases the exposure that your coffee has with oxygen. An increased exposure to oxygen accelerates their degradation as it accelerates a chemical reaction, the oxidation process.
The variables of 6-9 months and 3-5 months is due to the effect that the environment, the climate has on roasted coffee beans. Take the low end of the range as how long your can expect the shelf life of your coffee beans to be if you are living in the worse possible climate for the storage of roasted coffee beans and ground coffee.
you can consider the higher range of the shelf life range if you are living in the perfect climate for the storage of coffee beans. If you are living in a town or city that is cold and dry you can expect your coffee to stay fresh for longer without any intervention on your part when compared to a hot and humid climate.
Speaking of intervention, you can of course take some minor action and use an airtight container which will help to reduce the effect that the moisture in the air has on your freshly roasted coffee beans or Pre-Ground coffee.
Storing your airtight container in a cool dry environment is a simple and effortless step that you will help to mitigate the effect of the heat. Thus no matter what your natural climate is, that simple step will help you to extend the shelf life of your coffee.
Shelf Life Of Roasted Coffee Beans – The Effect Of The Roast Level
I touched base earlier on the effect that the roast level has on the shelf life of coffee beans. There is a little bad news if, like me, you love a good, deep dark roasted coffee.
Dark roasted coffee beans are more porous and thus a greater amount of air can enter the coffee beans and accelerate their degradation.
This is more so for ground coffee beans of a dark roast as they are not only more porous, they have an increased surface area also.
This is why the freshness of ground coffee of dark roast has the shortest shelf life. The increased surface area combined with the grounds being more porous increases the rate at which the oxidation process is taking place and degrades them quicker.
The coffee roast with the shortest of shelf life is an Italian roast.
light roasts due to being less porous and having a reduced exposure to oxygen internally will have a longer shelf life when compared to a dark roast. The roasted coffee beans that will last the longest before going off is a blonde roast as this is the lightest of the light roasts.
Let’s talk about about some simple steps that you can take to keep your coffee beans fresh for months and even years!
Read: Does coffee expire?
How To Keep Coffee Beans Fresh For Months
There are some very simple steps that you can take that can and will have a dramatic effect on how long you can keep your coffee beans fresh.
This is something that every coffee lover should know and put into practice when storing their premium quality coffee beans, especially those single origin specialty grade coffee beans.
Anything that you can do mitigate the effect that the environment has on your roasted coffee beans is the very first step to take. Much better than an airtight container is an airtight opaque coffee canister that has a one-way valve.
This type of container is professionally designed with the purpose of storing your coffee beans to reduce the effect that the environment has on your beans.
By being opaque they eliminate the effect that sunlight, UV or any harsh lights have on the beans. The airtight seal an aluminum interior helps to protect against humidity and the moisture in the air, preventing mold growth and the formation of mold.
The one-way valve is an important feature because for 3 to 5 days after roasting your freshly roasted coffee beans will emit carbon dioxide. The valve lets the carbon dioxide escape while preventing air from entering.
The next step is to mitigate the effect that temperature has on your coffee beans. You have two options, store your coffee canister with your coffee beans in them in your fridge or store them in your freezer.
Or, for best effects you can use both. This requires the use of two coffee canisters. Store the bulk of your coffee beans in the cannister that is in your freezer, only removing enough for 7 days worth of coffee and storing those beans in your second canister that your keep in your fridge.
The beneficial effect that this has on your coffee beans and their freshness is the reduction in the number of times that your coffee canister that you keep in your freezer is opened and closed. This prevents the air inside from being refreshed and reduces their exposure to oxygen helping to keep them fresher for longer.
The effect that very low freezing temperatures has on the freshness of your coffee beans is the effect of slowing down the oxidation to a dead stop.
Store your coffee beans in the way that I have outlined above and your coffee can stay fresh for a year or two without losing any of the flavor quality. Your last cup will taste every bit as good as the first one…even if the last cup with the last beans are two years apart!
That, my dear coffee loving friend is how you store your premium quality beans.
Pro Tip: Even if you have a whole, unopened bag, you are best to open them and put them in a coffee canister as the packaging will not protect your beans from freezer burn.
Starbucks Coffee Beans Expiration Date
Starbucks seal their coffee beans within a 2 hour window of them being roasted. Their whole bean coffee, if unopened can last for 34 weeks (7.5 months).
Once opened store your Starbucks coffee beans as I have described above for maximum freshness in every cup of coffee that you brew.
Frequently Asked Questions About Shelf Life Of Coffee Beans
Can You Use 2 Year Old Coffee Beans?
Yes, 2 year old coffee beans might be safe to drink. Study the the beans for mold spores visually and then give them a good sniff test for rancid and rotten scents and if they smell like mold.
Grind some beans and run some of your two year old coffee grounds between your fingers. If they are gritty and dry they are likely to be off. If they are oily your coffee beans might be fine.
Finally, brew a cup of coffee and run a taste test. Simply take a sip, or a few sips rather than gulping down your coffee. If it is fine, enjoy your coffee! If it tastes off simply discard your cup of coffee.
How Long Can You Store Coffee Beans?
When you store your coffee beans in optimal conditions in an opaque and airtight container with a one-way valve like a coffee canister and store it in your freezer at a very low temperature (the lowest that your freezer permits) they will stay fresh for up to 2 years.
Your coffee beans will still degrade, the time that it takes for them to degrade will be much slower.
How Do You Prolong The Shelf Life Of Coffee Beans?
To prolong the shelf life of your coffee beans you need to keep them away from your enemies that degrade the and cause them to lose their freshness. These are:
- UV and bright lights,
- Elevated temperature.
We can use an airtight container like a coffee canister that is opaque and store it in the freezer and we will be taking effective actions against all of the factors that affect the freshness and flavor of your coffee beans. There is not much we can do about time, although by freezing your coffee beans you are slowing down the oxidation process to a halt.
Simply putting your bag of coffee, be they vacuum sealed or not enough and can be detrimental to your coffee beans due to freezer burn and their packaging not being designed to protect against it effectively.
How Long Do Unroasted Coffee Beans Last?
When you store your unroasted coffee beans in a coffee canister to protect them from moisture, air and strong light and keep your coffee canister with your unroasted green coffee beans in your freezer there is no limit for how low they will stay fresh.
They can last indefinitely when stored under these conditions.
How Do You Refresh Old Coffee Beans?
You can refresh and jazz up your old coffee beans by adding cinnamon or vanilla. You can also flavor them with almond oils or ground black walnut.
You can also add flavor to refresh them by using flavored coffee syrups.
What Can Expired Coffee Be Used For?
No matter how old your expired coffee beans are, you can still use them in multiple different ways. You can use them for baking and making cakes, as a beauty product to make a scrub with, a full body scrub, a facial scrub and a scrub for your hair.
You can use them to keep insects like slugs and ants away from your garden. Revitalize your soil and to improve the nutritional profile of your compost. To grow mushrooms and to aid the worms in your worm farm.
Old coffee is great for restoring scratches on furniture and many more uses.
Final Thoughts – Shelf Life Of Coffee Beans
The great news is the shelf life of coffee beans can be extended from months to years with only a few simple and effort less steps that you can take.
I strongly advise that you put those steps into action for every bag of premium quality coffee beans that you buy and ensure that you have the maximum flavor in every cup of coffee that you brew.
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