You must be a coffee lover if you are on this page. Despite being the coffee fan that you are, you may be unfamiliar with your coffee beans. Have you ever experienced hoarding a good bargain of fresh coffee beans? The next thing that you may be wondering is how long do coffee beans last. The thing is, the answer depends on a number of factors.
For example, the actual shelf life of coffee depends on the type of coffee that you are storing, whether you have roasted coffee beans or vacuum-packed coffee.
Roasted Beans – Shelf Life
One thing to understand about roasted coffee beans is that they behave quite differently than raw beans when they are stored. The application of heat during roasting does not just change the smell, taste, color, and size of the bean, but also infuses caffeine with its combination of aroma and oils that evaporate fast.
The shelf life of roasted beans greatly varies depending on the conditions during storage. For instance, processed beans stored using normal and leaky boxes, jars, or containers usually have a shelf life of about 10 to 14 days. To extend the shelf life to about 3 to 4 weeks, you may want to use foil when packaging at home.
Roasted beans that are packed using heat-sealable bags made out of either foil or film may also reach up to 12 months in storage. These types of bags usually have a special vent valve. It is very important for freshly roasted beans to be stored properly because right after roasting, they still continue emitting carbon dioxide as a result of the opening of small internal capsules.
You can expect strong oxidation if the beans are allowed to completely ‘exhale’. On the other hand, the degassing check valve that is located on the bags allows the beans to ‘breathe’. They can also be immediately packaged after processing, with the gas continuing to exist without the need to inflate the bag from within.
Roasted beans may also be stored inside opaque jars that come with hermetically seals for the lids, similar to that of the way they are packed in factories. When done this way, the beans may reach up to 18 months of shelf life.
Just note that once any sealed package is opened, the shelf life of roasted beans is only up to 10 to 14 days.
Vacuum Packed Coffee – Shelf Life
One of the most common ways of packing and storing coffee beans is using vacuum packaging. This type of packaging is typically done using foil. Air that comes from the bag is let out, replaced using inert gas. This will slow down, even completely stopping the process of oxidation.
Note that the use of vacuum packaging of both ground coffee and beans vary. For ground coffee, the air is pumped out of the package without replacing anything. On the other hand, packing coffee beans require the use of a reverse gas vent valve that removes carbon dioxide coming out of freshly roasted beans.
Coffee beans that are packaged using vacuum bags can last up to 18 months. If the tightness of the package is compromised, or when it is opened, the shelf life is 2 weeks. This means that before the period ends, coffee needs to be consumed. Roasted beans lose some of their properties fast, which is why they are only ideal for short-term storage.
Storing Coffee Beans the Right Way
In order to bring out the distinct aroma and flavor of coffee beans, they need to be roasted. The beans usually appear greenish at the start. When roasted, they become deep brown, even close to the back. Unroasted beans can be purchased, allowing you to enjoy the process of roasting them yourself if you do not know how you can secure the roasted ones already.
As recommended by the experts, coffee beans need to be placed in an opaque, airtight container for storage. The use of clear containers allows the light to penetrate through the containers, oxidizing the beans easily. The canister should then be placed in a dark, cool, and dry place that is away from direct sources of moisture, heat, and direct sunlight. As a general rule, the darker the area, the better. It is also recommended to store the container in a kitchen cabinet so that it will not be reached by the light.
Make sure to keep the canister sealed tightly after each use so as to further extend the shelf life of the beans. At the same time, there is no need for the coffee beans to be transferred to a separate container after the original package is opened.
Freezing Coffee Beans?
Some coffee lovers opt to freeze their coffee beans to further extend their life. Is this a feasible idea? Yes, it is! In fact, it is perfect if you have purchased them in bulk with no way to use them up soon enough. This method extends the shelf life of coffee beans with minimal changes to the aroma or flavor.
Note, though, that there is no complete guarantee that the taste will be the same after roasted beans are frozen. The actual results may vary depending on the beans. If you are taking into consideration freezing your coffee beans, you may want to do a trial and error, starting with just a small amount first, and observe the results.
If you have already opened the packaging bag, it is best to transfer your coffee beans to an airtight container, or even a freezer bag before putting them in the freezer. If you have not opened the original bag yet, you can place it directly in the freezer to provide extra protection.
Others find it also beneficial to split the bag of beans into portions according to their schedule of consumption within a period of two weeks. This will allow you to defrost as much as you need for the day and have fresh beans available all the time. It is recommended to thaw your coffee beans at room temperature prior to use.
Bad Coffee Beans?
The last thing that you would want to see is your coffee beans turning bad. The good news is, beans do not really spoil to the point that they grow mold or get rotten. Still, there are some factors that need to be considered.
For example, if water gets into the package and you observe mold presence or other visual changes, you may want to immediately remove the contents of the container. This is also true if you notice something wrong with the aroma.
It should also be anticipated that through time, the flavor and aroma of the coffee weaken. The longer the roasted beans are stored, the less the qualities become. You may notice your cup of coffee no longer tasting right with the smell not as strong as it used to be. You may even notice that it has become stale.
Once it reaches this point, the decision is up to you. You have the option to throw it away to ensure the quality of your cup of coffee, or use them but compromise coffee quality. These choices are valid enough for you to consider.
If you notice that there are really valid reasons enough to believe that your coffee beans have turned bad, note that there may also be consequences. For example, if you drink expired coffee, it may lead to food poisoning, which is true just with any other type of food consumed when bad.
The danger here lies in the fats that are present in the coffee beans. Through time, these fans deteriorate quite seriously. This is something that is not expected out of instant coffee since they do not contain these substances. As a general rule of thumb, if you notice that it is no longer safe, just make the right choice to protect yourself.
So we have learned that roasted coffee beans actually have a longer shelf life than raw beans. This is because the beans are already dry, which rules out any risks involving yeast, bacterial or mold growth, and infestation. The result may be different, however, if the beans are stored in a humid environment.
It should be noted still that coffee beans may lose their aroma and flavor when they are stored for too long. This is true even when using an airtight container. This means that it is highly advised to consume the roasted beans sooner to enjoy the taste of your coffee.
The peak of the freshness of your best coffee beans also varies depending on the beans. To ensure maximum freshness, it is recommended to store the beans up to a month outside the freezer and up to 3 to 6 months inside the freezer.
For guidance, a best-by date is available in every package, indicating the length of time in which the beans will have their peak quality. Even after that date, the beans will still be safe for consumption after, given that they are properly stored.