Have you ever wondered how long coffee beans are good for? Well, the answer depends on how you store them! Coffee beans can be quite an intricate item to store, and there is a lot of misinformation out there. And we are here to clear all that up by exploring the best ways to store coffee beans.
These are some essential factors you need to know about keeping your coffee beans fresh: which location/temperature/container combinations work well. In this post, we will cover what deteriorates coffee beans over time; and specific ways people have found helpful to store their prized coffee!
Use The Right Container To Store Coffee Beans
You may be wondering which container is the best for storing your coffee beans. There are many factors to consider, but one of the most important is that you pick a jar or canister with an airtight seal. Hence, no oxygen gets in and robs them of their flavor due to the oxidation process when coffee beans are exposed to air! It’s also best if they’re not see-through, so moisture and light don’t get in.
The following is a list of opaque materials examples that are great for storing coffee:
- Stainless steel, or another non-reactive metal
Here are a few options of coffee containers that might interest you:
- Ceramic – SWEEJAR Kitchen Canisters Ceramic Storage Jar
- Galvanized steel – Airscape Coffee Storage Canister
- Glass – Kaffe Glass Storage Container
- Stainless steel – Veken Coffee Canister
- Vacuum sealed – Coffeevac Vacuum Sealed Coffee Container
All of the above options come well rated by previous customers! For more coffee container options, you can read my article on the search for the best coffee containers.
Another type of container is the vacuum-sealed coffee canisters. While these canisters are excellent, there is some debate on whether removing all the air from the coffee beans will dry them out and make them lose their oils. This would compromise the coffee flavors from the beans.
Store Your Coffee Beans In A Dark And Cool Place
The best place to store your opaque and airtight coffee bean canister is in the pantry. Storing your coffee beans in the pantry will keep the beans away from sunlight, one of the main enemies of the roasted coffee bean.
Generally, you can store your coffee beans in locations that are:
- Does not have any severely variable temperature changes
You need a cool and dark location because these combats the flavor changes coffee beans undergo when exposed to heat and light.
You also need a stable temperature location in your home.
Keep Your Coffee Beans at A Consistent Temperature
Besides being in a suitable container and stored in a dark, cool place, your coffee beans must be kept at a consistent temperature. When the temperature varies widely in the environment you store your coffee beans in, it can introduce moisture into your beans.
Moisture not only impacts the life of the coffee bean but can also put your coffee beans at risk of becoming moldy or mildewy.
The following are places to avoid if you want to store your coffee in a location other than the pantry:
- That spot on the counter that gets full sun most of the day – It is too hot for your beans.
- The cupboard above the oven – Again, this spot is too hot.
- The freezer – But we discuss this in much more detail below because there are some exceptions.
- The fridge – Even though it is a consistent temperature, this spot can introduce unwanted moisture into the beans! Because condensation can accumulate inside the bag, the beans go from room temperature to cold.
Factors That Influence Coffee Bean Shelf Life
A few factors can impact the flavor of your coffee beans that the proper storage method can alleviate. And as you now know, not only is flavor impacted, but the bean’s longevity can also deteriorate depending on how you store your coffee beans.
The following are a list of factors that play a role in how long your coffee beans or grounds will last:
In the following few paragraphs, we will discuss these factors as we tackle some common questions on the storage of coffee beans or grounds.
Why Do You Need An Opaque Container?
One of the significant factors that impact coffee is light. Light can compromise the bean’s flavor. Keeping your coffee beans protected from sunlight is essential. This includes keeping them out of clear glass jars and out of that extra sunny corner of the counter.
Why Must Coffee Beans Be Stored In A Cool Place?
Heat will age your coffee beans faster than you can use them. One day you will have flavorful and aromatic coffee, and the next day it will be dull and flat if exposed to too much heat. This is because heat speeds up the oxidation process.
Why Do Coffee Beans Require Stable Temperatures?
Keeping your coffee beans at a consistent temperature is important because any moisture present in your coffee beans will cause the oils to come to the beans’ surface. This causes your coffee to age much quicker and loses the flavors and aromas if you leave the coffee beans exposed to air.
Condensation can quickly occur if you move your coffee beans from the fridge/freezer to the counter and vice versa.
Why Do You Need An Airtight Container?
Exposure to oxygen will deplete the aromas and oils present in the coffee beans, so you need an airtight container. This effect is even more drastic for coffee grounds.
Be Wary of Freezing Your Coffee Beans
Maybe you do not use up your coffee quickly, so you may be tempted to freeze them as a form of long-term storage. But do not be fooled, not everything is good after it has been frozen, and coffee beans are one of these things.
The following is a list of reasons not to store your coffee beans in the freezer:
- It creates more hassle than it is worth – A cup of coffee is supposed to be an easy drink to make. By adding freezing to the mix, your simple brewed cup gets more difficult because of the added prep your beans and grounds require.
- You may lose the flavor of your coffee beans after thawing – The coffee beans will also have lost some of their original aromas because of the temperature change and elapsed time.
- Your coffee beans may end up tasting like something else – As you know, coffee beans are porous, so if you place them next to something that is super aromatic like fish, you may end up with some fish-flavored coffee.
A freezer is a magical place where time stands still, and all of your favorite foods are stored for safekeeping. All it takes to protect our coffee beans from the dangers lurking in that dark abyss, such as moisture buildup, is a straightforward decision: if you have opened an unopened package of whole bean coffee – don’t even think about putting them in the fridge!
If you must freeze your coffee beans, the best to do so is to put the package directly into the freezer after purchase. You do not need to repackage the coffee beans, which would expose them. If you do end up using this method, make sure your coffee beans are entirely defrosted to room temperature before grinding.
How Can You Freeze Coffee The Right Way?
The only instance where you can freeze coffee is after it is ground. The following are the steps you can take if you want to freeze your ground coffee:
- Grind it – By grinding your coffee right before popping it in the freezer, it will trap as much of the flavor into the grounds as possible. Coffee begins to lose flavor immediately after grinding, as the air deteriorates the bean’s aroma. Even leaving your coffee out for 30 minutes after grinding is too long!
- Portion it – You should pack your coffee grounds into small packages to avoid thawing and freezing your ground coffee repeatedly. The number of times you would thaw the grounds would drastically decrease the flavor. Small portions will remedy this issue. We suggest using a week’s worth of coffee in one airtight container at a time. If you do not drink coffee daily or only make one to two cups at a time, portion your coffee into single-serve packages.
- Freeze it – Because you have carefully prepared your coffee grounds in advance, you can rest easy knowing that your frozen coffee grounds will last as long as you need them to. However, use them within one month, for best results.
- Use it – Scoop out the coffee you need and place the grounds back to the freezer as quickly as possible.
In the chart below, you can find some additional tips to use if you decide to freeze your coffee beans or grounds:
|Helpful Tip||Frozen Coffee Beans||Frozen Coffee Grounds|
|Minimize thawing||But for beans, do not refreeze your coffee beans after they have thawed. This will cause extreme damage to the flavors and aromas.||For grounds you minimize the number of times you thaw them by portioning, as we mentioned.|
|Store in the suitable packaging||If you are freezing the coffee beans, keep them in the same packaging you bought them in, as long as the seal is unbroken. As soon as you open your coffee beans from their original packaging, we do not recommend you freeze them.||If you choose to portion out your coffee grounds, remember to use an opaque, airtight container for storage.|
|Length of Storage Time||If your freeze your coffee beans, they can be kept in the freezer for up to one year. However, the more time that passes the less flavorful your cup of joe will be.||If you decide to freeze the coffee grounds it is best to use them within one month. Again, grounds will deteriorate faster because they no longer have the outer shell of the coffee bean to protect them.|
How Long Are Coffee Beans Fresh For?
Coffee beans are freshest within the first two weeks of the roasting process. Generally speaking, this is the time frame in which you should aim to use up the coffee. And so, this is a good rule of thumb for knowing how much coffee to buy, too.
Only buy enough coffee beans for the amount of coffee you drink in two weeks. Remember that this period may vary slightly depending on the roast you purchase.
Additionally, opt for whole beans than pre-ground coffee as they last longer.
If you order from a local coffee roaster, you can also ask the roaster for advice on when will the coffee beans no longer be fresh. Their packaging will often dictate how long the roasted beans will stay fresh, too. Here’s a comparison of a few common packaging styles:
|Type of Packaging||Amount of Time Before Coffee Beans Go Stale|
|Lined paper craft bags||Within one week|
|Foil bags with pinholes and a one-way valve||Between one and two weeks|
|Paper bags||Transfer it to an airtight container and use within one to two weeks|
As you can see, even with the best packaging from the manufacturer, you should use up all your coffee beans within two weeks of exposing them to air. You may be able to get away with four weeks, but at that point, you will probably start to notice a decline in the flavor and aroma from brews made with your coffee beans.
How Can You Use Your Stale Beans?
If you’re past the two weeks, but your beans are still good, do not throw them away. Even though your coffee beans have gone stale, this does not mean you can no longer use them.
With stale coffee beans, you can grind them up and make cold brew coffee instead of your traditional hot brewing style.
Do Coffee Beans Go Bad?
Yes, coffee beans can go bad. And there are a few things to know about bad coffee beans because they are different from stale coffee beans.
The significant distinction between stale coffee beans and bad coffee beans is this:
- Stale coffee beans still have life left in them, but they are not at their peak flavor, aroma or freshness.
- On the other hand, bad coffee beans have altered the bean’s chemistry so drastically that they are no longer suitable for you to consume.
The following are three different ways in which coffee beans can go bad:
- Coffee beans can go rancid. This occurs because the oils in the coffee beans become compromised due to exposure to moisture, heat, humidity, etc.
- Coffee beans can get moldy. Water has gotten into the packaging and creates a moist environment where mold and mildew can thrive.
- Coffee beans can oxidize rapidly. This happens when your coffee beans are exposed to the surrounding air, and you didn’t use any airtight sealed containers.
In all, coffee beans can last quite a while, especially if you do not mind a dull cup of coffee. However, suppose your palette desires a rich, bold, and flavorful cup of joe every time. In that case, you need to use your roasted coffee beans promptly and within two weeks.
In Short, Get Your Whole Coffee Beans & Store Them Right
The best way to store your coffee beans is in an opaque, airtight container in a dark and cool place that does not have significant temperature fluctuations. You must hit all four of these things to keep your coffee beans at their freshest.
If you need to freeze your coffee beans, you can, but there are many hoops to jump through to do so correctly. Do use whole coffee beans rather than pre-ground coffee as much as possible. Coffee beans last longer and help preserve the flavors and aromas of the coffee.