How long do coffee beans stay fresh?

The flavours locked in freshly roasted coffee beans change over time. This can be a good thing as the nuances can enhance enjoyment, but if you leave coffee too long it can go stale and taste flat

The flavours locked in freshly roasted coffee beans change over time. This can be a good thing as the nuances can enhance enjoyment, but if you leave coffee too long it can go stale and taste flat

Can coffee beans be too fresh?

When you buy super fresh coffee beans try to avoid brewing too soon after the roast date.

Just-roasted coffee beans retain carbon dioxide (CO2) and other elements from the roasting process, which can mess with the flavours in your brew. Beans degas rapidly after roasting (when the CO2 leaves the beans) but continue to do so gradually over the course of the next week or so. Noticed that most coffee bags have a small circular valve in them? These one-way valves allow CO2 to easily leave the bag without unwanted oxygen entering and accelerating the staling process.

Most roasters allow beans to rest for a few days before sending them out so customers taste the coffee at its best, which is usually around one week after roasting.

How long does fresh coffee last?

All Indy Coffee Box coffees will have a roast date printed on the bag. This is useful to know as it not only tells you how long to wait until you brew, but also provides a benchmark of how long the coffee will retain its good flavour and structure.

All the roasteries we work with recommend drinking their coffee between one week and three months past the roast date. Some roasters put a best-before date on each bag, so you’ll know when the beans are at their best, but the date isn’t the only factor.

How should I store coffee beans?

Great-tasting coffee starts with buying quality beans and storing them correctly. It’s useful to know the enemies of great coffee are air, moisture, heat, and light, so keep beans fresh by storing them in an opaque, air-tight container at room temperature.

Can I freeze coffee beans?

Yes and no.

We know that coffee doesn’t like heat, light, oxygen, and moisture, and freezers prevent heat and light affecting the beans, but more important is the effect of moisture. When you take cold beans out of the freezer and bring them into contact with warm, moist air, the moisture will condense on the bean surface. And because coffee beans are porous, this moisture will absorb into the bean and degrade the flavour.

If you have too much coffee and don’t want to waste it you can freeze coffee beans, but remember:

  • Ensure your beans are well sealed to keep out oxygen and avoid any freezer flavours penetrating the porous beans (fish finger coffee, anyone?)
  • If you’re bulk buying beans and want to keep them fresh, separate them into smaller bags that you can take out as you need them.
  • Bring coffee up to room-temperature in their sealed bags before grinding.

If you want more information, you can read the Indy Coffee Box brew guide here.