One of the most common questions asked about coffee is: does it expire? Well, technically no, coffee doesn’t have a fixed expiry date. However, that doesn’t mean that your 6-month old coffee bean will make the same tasting coffee from a freshly roasted bean.
So how long do coffee beans and grounds last, and how do we store them properly to ensure maximum freshness? We explain below.
Rule of Thumb
Essentially, the finer the grind, the shorter the shelf life of your coffee ground. But that doesn’t mean that a whole coffee bean is safe from the elements. The moment coffee beans are roasted, they gradually lose their flavour due to oxidation, heat, light, and moisture in the air.
The way you store your beans or ground also plays an important factor on the speed at which they lose their aroma and flavour profiles.
Roasted Coffee Beans
When purchasing roasted beans, always check the roasting date as its average life span is approximately 4 to 5 weeks. We are familiar with store-bought beans having an expiry date of 12-24 months, which is why they tend to produce less satisfactory brews than our favourite cafes.
Consider getting your beans from small-batch roasters that only roast a few kilos of beans each time to ensure none are left on the shelf by the end of the day. Another alternative is specialty cafes like these that don’t only roast their own beans but also sell them fresh instore so that you can take-and-go at your own convenience.
If making a trip down to your local grocery store or roaster is too much of a hassle, consider coffee subscription services to ensure your beans are always freshly delivered to your doorstep.
Coffee grounds don’t last as long as whole beans because their physical compounds have been broken down. This makes them more vulnerable to the elements and risk going stale faster.
The moment the beans are ground, its shelf life is approximately 1 to 2 weeks before its flavours start deteriorating. So instead of buying ground coffee, invest in a coffee grinder or a bean to cup machine so that you can ground your beans on the spot whenever you need a caffeine fix.
Always grind just the right amount only when you are about to brew your coffee. Follow these recommendations and you’ll be one step closer to happiness in a cup.
Best Practices for Storing Coffee
Whether it’s whole coffee beans, ground coffee, or coffee pods, always store them in a vacuum-sealed or airtight container. This prevents air, heat, and moisture from affecting the freshness of your brew. Once you’ve chosen your storage container, place it in a cool and dry area, away from sunlight.
Here’s a tip – never store your coffee in the freezer. Moisture from the sub-zero temperature can still permeate the coffee and eventually impart various freezer odours to your brew. After all, we don’t want a seafood-tasting cup of coffee.