If you’ve ever wondered, “how long do coffee beans last?” The answer depends on the type of bean and how well it is stored. Generally for modern day coffee beans, these 3 factors determine shelf life:
1. Type of Bean (Arabica or Robusta)
2. Roasted Status (light, medium, dark)
3. Storage Conditions (temperature and humidity).
Arabica coffees typically have a longer lifetime while Robustas have a shorter one – ranging from about 1-2 years while light roasts will start to taste stale after about 6 months before finally going bad at around 18 months — though some experts say they may only last around 12 moths in ideal storage conditions!
1. How long do Coffee Beans Last Shelf life?
As is with most natural food products, freshness makes all the difference. There are different types of coffee beans (Arabica and Robusta) which have different shelf lives.
Arabica beans typically last longer than Robustas because they are more resistant to pests and disease. Roasted coffee also has a shorter life than un-roasted beans because the roasting process causes oxidation of the oils in the coffee which eventually go rancid. Here’s a general breakdown on how this factors into shelf life:
Arabica Beans (1-2 years)
– They are more resistant to pests and disease than Robustas so they tend to be higher quality beans. – The unroasted version will usually last around 18 months while the roasted variety can only last about 6-12 months.
– If properly stored in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight, Arabica beans have a longer shelf life and could potentially last up to 2 years. This is why whole coffee beans or ground beans sold in a glass jar or animal can last longer than those sold in a cardboard box with a one way valve.
Robusta beans (6-12 months)
– Have lower acidity and a higher caffeine content than Arabica beans which makes them more bitter and sturdy. – They are cheaper to produce so they tend to be used as fillers for coffee sold in supermarkets. – They are very susceptible to mold which is why they usually have a shorter shelf life than Arabicas.
– The unroasted variety starts to go stale after only 6 months while the roasted kind will start going rancid around 12 months.
– If properly stored in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight, Robusta beans have a shorter shelf life and could only last about 6-12 months.
In general, Arabica coffee lasts much longer than Robusta because it is more resistant to disease and pests. So if you can find a place that sells high quality whole bean or ground coffee in a glass jar with a one way valve, it will probably last much longer than the coffee in a cardboard box with a one way valve.
2. Why does the type of bean and roasted status affect how long they last ?
The main reason why the type of bean has an effect on shelf life is because each type of coffee bean has a different chemical makeup.
– Arabica beans have more sugars and less caffeine than Robustas which gives them a sweeter taste. – The Robusta variety contains almost twice the amount of caffeine that Arabica does which makes them more bitter and also gives them a higher shelf life.
– Because Arabica beans have less caffeine than Robustas, they are much less likely to attract pests and disease which is why they could potentially last 2 years. – Since Robusta beans contain so much caffeine, this makes them much easier for pests and bacteria to find making them much more likely to go bad.
– Since Arabica beans have a higher sugar content, it takes longer for them to go stale because the sugar causes oxidation which people typically associate with going “bad”.
The reason why a light roast has a shorter shelf life than a dark one is because of how roasting affects the oils in coffee.
– Dark roasting allows the oils in coffee to remain separate from the bean. – Light roasting grinds beans into a fine powder which means that the oil coats every single part of each ground up bean and they mix together better. This is why people often complain about tasting more “burnt” flavors when drinking light roasted coffee than dark roast.
– Since they mix together better, light roasted coffee has a shorter shelf life because the oils go rancid more quickly.
3. How do storage conditions affect their shelf life (temperature, humidity) ?
Coffee beans have a relatively low water content so they are fairly resistant to humidity.
– If stored in a cool, dry place with little humidity or direct sunlight, they will stay fresh longer because there is less moisture for bacteria and mold to feed on. – However, coffee beans should always be kept away from any intense sources of heat or cold because moisture and extreme temperatures affect how quickly they go stale.
– If stored in a place that is too humid, mold will start to grow on beans which will make them taste extremely bitter .
– On the other hand, if stored somewhere that is very dry like a desert area or sealed up in an airtight container with no water, the beans will lose a lot of their moisture and eventually go stale.
– The best storage conditions for keeping coffee fresh is to keep them in a dark, dry place with average humidity out of direct sunlight. In general, the darker the roast, the less it will retain its flavor if stored under suboptimal conditions.
4. Types of Beans – Arabica vs Robusta
– Arabica beans have a higher sugar content which makes them more susceptible to going bad because the oils in coffee respond well to sugar. The sugars ferment and go rancid quickly leaving a bitter taste behind.
– The chemicals that make coffee taste “bitter” are caused by oxidation when exposed to too much oxygen or heat which is why people associate dark roasted coffee with a longer shelf life.
– Arabica beans are more resistant to pests and disease which is why they tend to last 2 years in storage while Robusta’s usually only last about 1 year.
5. Roasted Status – Light, Medium, Dark
– Since light roasted beans are more ground up and fine, the oils in coffee mix together with the rest of the bean. This makes dark roasted coffee last longer than light roast because it has less oil overall which means that the oils go rancid slower.
– Medium roast tends to be a happy medium between both types of roast with about the same amount of oil content as dark roast.
– Dark roasted coffee beans are actually burnt which is why people often associate the taste of “burnt” with having a longer shelf life. Since they are more ground up, their oils bind together better which means that dark roast has less oil overall than light or medium roast which makes it last longer.
– However, the oils that are labeled as “burnt” give the coffee a more bitter taste which is why people often prefer light or medium roast.
6. Tips for storing your coffee beans to make them last longer!
– Store in a dark, dry place with average humidity and out of direct sunlight. – Keep the container that you store them in as airtight as possible because it protects ground coffee from absorbing moisture and other impurities from the air.
– If you refrigerate your coffee beans, make sure to use an air tight container and only leave it in there for about 7 days at most because it can release moisture which will make your beans go stale.
– Letting your coffee beans “air out” before trowing them away or grinding them makes a huge difference. You should grind your coffee right before you brew it because the oils are released into the air which speeds up the staling process and makes your coffee taste stale in a shorter period of time.
– If you store your ground coffee for too long, the oils will go rancid which makes it lose its flavor quickly.
– Store unopened bags of whole beans in their original packaging because they are better protected from humidity and usually come with better storage conditions than buying pre-packaged coffee. – If you can’t store your coffee beans in their original packaging, use an airtight container to maintain freshness.
– The best storage condition for long term storage is a cool and dark place with low humidity or even in the fridge if you don’t plan on opening the bag too often. Most people recommend using a freezer bag and adding a silica packet to prolong their freshness.
– Avoid using coffee storage bags that have “one use” valves because they aren’t re-sealable which means that you can’t take just the amount of coffee beans that you need at the moment.
1. How long do unopened bags of coffee beans last?
– Usually, unopened bags of beans can last about 6 months to a year if stored in decent conditions.
2. How long does ground coffee last?
– Ground coffee should be used within 4 weeks because the oils release into the air and make it go stale faster.
3. How long does instant coffee last?
– Instant coffee usually doesn’t last longer than a couple of months because the dry milk that it is mixed with tends to go bad before the actual powder itself goes stale. You can add in less milk and gradually add more water to your taste when you run out so that you don’t have to throw away the entire pot and can make it bit by bit.
4. How should I store my extra coffee?
– You can either freeze or refrigerate your coffee if you don’t think that you will be able to drink it within a week. Make sure to put it in an airtight container so that no moisture gets in to avoid getting it stale faster.
5. How long does coffee last in the freezer?
– Coffee can be stored in a free for about three to six month before you should try and use it again if you are planning on drinking it slowly or just have some leftovers that you don’t want to waste.
6. How long does coffee last in the fridge?
– Coffee should be stored in a fridge for about 1 to 2 weeks and should be used within a week if you are planning on drinking it daily.
The overall consensus is that you should brew the coffee right before drinking it because you don’t really know how long it was sitting on a shelf or in a storage container. Your best bet is to buy small amounts of coffee at a time and only grind what you need for each pot of coffee.
If you are buying large bags, make sure that you are putting it in an airtight container and that you are sealing it well. You should also make sure to avoid using valves on your coffee storage bags because they don’t seal properly which makes your coffee lose its freshness faster.
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