A coffee fanatic's worst fear is running out of beans, which is why you may be tempted to stock up on your coffee supply. However, on the slight chance that you cannot outdrink the expiration date of your beans, you may be interested in whether your beans can go bad.
Roasted beans have a shelf life of two to six months, depending on the type of coffee and your taste preferences, while unroasted coffee beans can be stored for up to two years. Freshly ground coffee has a shelf life of a few weeks to a month. Correctly storing your beans extends their expiry date.
A good cup of coffee is an essential part of any morning routine. There are few things more disheartening than discovering that your coffee beans have gone stale. Fortunately, this can be avoided by understanding the science behind the expiration date of coffee beans and how to prolong their freshness to guarantee a good brew every morning.
Do Coffee Beans Expire?
While roasting brings out the richness of the beans, it also makes them weaker and more brittle. It alters the structure of the beans, causing them to lose flavor faster. Roasted beans have a shelf life of two to six months, depending on the type of coffee and your taste preferences. Unroasted coffee beans can be kept for up to two years. Fresh ground coffee has a shelf life of a few weeks to a month.
Because coffee grounds have a greater surface area and the inner bean is unprotected, the natural chemical processes that degrade the coffee's molecules progress faster. This difference, however, can be minimized with proper packaging and processing techniques.
Storing your coffee beans or coffee grounds in an airtight container can extend their expiration date. However, proper storage is not the only factor determining how long your coffee stays fresh; it depends on how the coffee was prepared and packaged. Because some coffee isn't made to last forever, it's better to regularly replenish your coffee stores rather than stock up for a long time.
How To Tell If Your Coffee Beans Are Expired
Coffee comprises thousands of compounds and molecules that evaporate or degrade. Carbohydrates go stale, lipids rot, and organic compounds such as oils evaporate. Thankfully, we are equipped with senses that help detect our coffee's freshness.
The first thing you should notice about the taste of stale coffee is its lack of flavor. The juiciness and chocolate, wine, or spicy undertones vanish. All that may be left is an intense bitterness, implying that stale beans will literally leave a bad taste in your mouth.
Your beans should not have a dull, matte appearance. Because of the beautiful aromatic oils present, freshly roasted beans should have a glossy appearance. These oils are delicate and vulnerable, and the beans will dry out and lose their rich taste over time.
Another indicator is to feel the coffee beans to see if there is any residue on your hands. Oils appear when the internal bean becomes oxidized. Darker roasts have a more fragile shell, so they will lose flavor and seep oil faster than a lighter roasted bean. However, every roasted bean, whether light or dark, will develop this oily sheen after a few weeks.
Finally, the most apparent indicator of stale coffee beans is their scent, or the lack thereof. Stale beans will lack the lovely aroma that we all seek when brewing.
Can Old Coffee Beans Make You Sick?
While old coffee beans are not necessarily harmful to your health, they can act as a catalyst for conditions that make you sick. Old coffee beans tend to be a breeding ground for bacteria. Some bacteria are harmless to healthy adults, but others can cause serious illness. Bacteria such as staphylococcus and streptococcus are frequently found in coffee machines.
Suppose you have your coffee beans open while brewing; you put yourself at risk of contamination. Furthermore, the mold that grows on whole coffee beans or grounds can produce ochratoxin A. Ochratoxin is harmful to your kidneys and is a suspected carcinogen, which can contribute to the development of various cancers. Your immune system can also be suppressed by ochratoxin A.
Ochratoxin can find its way into even the cleanest coffee machines. The mold that produces ochratoxin is common in coffee-growing areas because it thrives in a warm, moist environment. Furthermore, ochratoxin is resistant to both heat and strong acids, so roasting will not rid your beans of this toxin.
Knowing where your beans came from is the best way to avoid ochratoxin in your coffee. Take note of where they were grown, where they were processed, and how they were shipped. We recommend purchasing coffee beans from companies that conduct ochratoxin testing. Finally, try your best to avoid old and moldy coffee beans altogether.
What Can You Do With Stale Coffee Beans?
There is nothing you can do to bring stale coffee beans back to life. When coffee beans are finished roasting and exposed to oxygen, a process known as oxidation begins. The chemical reaction of oxidation begins to degrade the flavor and aroma of your coffee beans. Keeping your coffee beans away from air, moisture, heat, and light will help to slow the oxidation process.
Tossing out your favorite blend is heartbreaking to any coffee lover. While it is impossible to restore the coffee beans to their fresh, flavorful state, you can do a few things to mask the stale flavor. By combining oils, spices, or extracts with the coffee beans, you can hide the stale taste while not wasting coffee beans.
- To mask the taste of stale coffee beans, you can try adding cinnamon to the coffee beans before grinding. The amount of cinnamon you use is entirely up to you.
- Alternatively, mixing vanilla extract into the coffee beans or grounds may also help to mask the stale flavor.
- You can go as far as to try to flavor the stale coffee beans with syrups and flavorings. Depending on your preference, you can add black walnut oil, almond oil, honey, maple syrup, or even coffee-flavored syrup.
However, masking the flavor of your stale beans will not eliminate the risk of bacterial contamination or ochratoxin found in the mold that grows on old coffee. It is always best to avoid coffee that is far past its expiration date, to avoid placing yourself at risk.
Furthermore, if you are a staunch coffee connoisseur, you will likely not appreciate any additives to your roast. If you prefer a fuller, richer taste in your coffee, we do not recommend that you try these tricks to mask the flavor of stale beans.
How Can You Use Expired Coffee Beans?
After spending money on your beans, the last thing you want to do is toss them away once they have reached their expiry date. However, there are several things we suggest you do to make the most of your old coffee beans and reduce waste in your home.
You Can Make Treats Out Of Old Coffee Beans
You can cover old coffee beans in various sweets if they don't make a good cup of coffee. Try milk, dark, or white chocolate, or yogurt.
You Can Add Your Old Coffee Beans For Cooking
Coffee grounds are an excellent way to add a dark color to a variety of dishes without altering the flavor. Some recipes that include coffee grounds include
- Coffee-rubbed pulled pork will pleasantly surprise you with how well your finely ground espresso blends with the brown sugar and other ground seasonings. Give this recipe a try!
- A few bits of granola sprinkled on top of your yogurt or into your fruit bowl is a tasty way to add something extra to your breakfast. However, using coffee-flavored granola takes the already-satisfying crunchy treats to the next level. Give this recipe a try!
- Kahlua coffee cheesecake is a delectable way to commemorate any special occasion, from a birthday to a holiday to simply craving something sweet. Give this recipe a try!
- Coffee seems like an odd accompaniment to your strip steak but trust us when we say that the rich flavor your grounds infuse pairs well with the other spices in this rub. Give this recipe a try!
You Can Use Your Old Beans For Décor
You may be pleasantly surprised by how aesthetically pleasing old, stale coffee beans can be in your home. Change up your centerpieces with eye-catching glass jars filled with beans, or add a few to your candle holders for an interesting decoration.
You Can Use Your Old Beans For Dirty Dishes
If you aren't quite ready to incorporate coffee beans into your home decor, simply grind up some old coffee beans and use them to scrub pots and pans. The acidic and abrasive nature of the beans works wonders on caked-on foods. Just make sure to test them on a pan you don't mind ruining. They may be a little too powerful for certain types of kitchenware.
You Can Use Your Old Beans For Compost
Gardeners are particularly fond of coffee grounds, but stale coffee beans serve their purpose just as well. Old coffee beans contain phosphorus, potassium, copper, and magnesium, all of which are beneficial to garden soil.
What Is The Best Way To Store Coffee Beans?
The most crucial factor in extending the shelf life of ground coffee or coffee beans is how and where you store them. The best way to accomplish this is to keep your coffee beans in an airtight container in a cool, dry area at or below room temperature.
Coffee drinkers frequently refrigerate or freeze their beverages. While freezing coffee can extend its shelf life, it destroys its flavors and aromas. Condensation of water within the coffee and coffee container occurs because of the cold environment. This changes the cell structures of the coffee molecules, causing the beans or grounds to lose much of their flavor.
Storing coffee beans in the freezer can be even worse if you regularly move the coffee in and out of the freezer, as temperature fluctuations damage the coffee and drain its flavors. We never recommend freezing or refrigerating coffee beans or grounds for these reasons.
Although you may want to show off your beans in a glass counter on your worktop for all to see, the heat and light will cause your coffee to lose freshness faster. There are two main methods of successfully storing your coffee beans.
If your coffee comes in an opaque bag with a seal, the simplest storage method is simply to keep it in the original packaging. Alternatively, use an opaque, airtight container if the bag isn't high-quality or doesn't have a seal. It doesn't have to be designed specifically for storing coffee; any kitchen jar will suffice.
How Can You Get The Most Out Of Your Coffee Beans?
We recommend purchasing your coffee as fresh as possible. This can be challenging if you don't know when it was roasted but buying from a local roaster is your best bet. Furthermore, purchase whole beans and grind them at home. Beans lose their freshness much faster once ground, so grinding at home ensures the freshest flavor and extends the life of your coffee bag.
Although grinding at home helps maintain freshness, you should only grind your beans when you need them. Also, try to grind only what you need. This is easier said than done, but it becomes second nature with practice. It may be tempting to grind in large batches to save time for future brewing, but it will only cause the coffee to lose freshness faster.
We strongly suggest buying in smaller quantities rather than in bulk. The bulk purchase options may be appealing, but will you drink it all before it goes stale? This isn't to say you can't take advantage of some great deals, as ordering two or three small bags at a time is a simple way to keep things fresh.
Once again, we do not recommend storing your coffee beans in the refrigerator since it destroys their flavors and aromas. Condensation of water within the coffee occurs because of the cold environment. Keeping coffee beans in the freezer can be even worse if you regularly move the coffee in and out of the freezer, as temperature fluctuations damage the coffee and drain its flavors.
Roasted beans have a shelf life of two to six months, depending on the type of coffee and your taste preferences, while unroasted coffee beans can be stored for up to two years. Freshly ground coffee has a shelf life of a few weeks to a month. Correctly storing your beans extends their expiry date. The best way to accomplish this is to keep your coffee beans in an airtight container in a cool, dry area at room temperature.