Will Coffee Beans Go Bad? We Find Out!

Coffee is the one thing that many people rely on to start their morning. It's what keeps them going until lunch, and it can even be a pick-me-up in the afternoon. But, whatever your preference may be, there's one thing that we can all agree on — you don't want to drink bad coffee!

You should consume freshly-roasted coffee beans within a week to a month after roasting. During this time, the coffee beans are at their best quality. After that, it can be a hit or miss due to factors like oxidation that affect the taste.

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If you enjoy a good cup of Joe, you've probably wondered how long coffee beans stay fresh and how to tell if your coffee beans are still fresh. We find out in today's blog post.

How Long Can You Keep Coffee Beans?

We've all been there. You buy a cup of coffee that doesn't taste right. The coffee is either too sour, lacks flavor, or tastes like it's been sitting out for a few days. The explanation could be due to several factors, such as roasting procedure, flavor, and expiration date. However, more often than not, it boils down to the quality of the coffee beans.

Coffee beans are considered shelf-stable, meaning they can last for an extended period without losing quality. But this begs the question, how long do coffee beans stay good? Unroasted, coffee beans can stay for years without going stale. But once you've roasted them, they can lose freshness in about a week to a month, depending on the storage conditions.

So, what causes this difference?

During the roasting process, coffee beans release carbon dioxide and eventually start to absorb oxygen, which causes the deterioration of quality and flavor. Consequently, they begin to lose some of the aroma and flavor compounds. Roasted coffee beans also develop a sour taste called "staling." Stale flavors are often described as more acrid, bitter or stale-tasting than freshly roasted coffee beans.

This is why it's essential not to roast too much at once. This way, you can keep your coffee fresh for longer.

Source: Home Grounds

How Do You Know if Coffee Beans are Bad?

It's not easy to tell if coffee is still fresh by simply looking at it because the physical changes to the beans are so slight. However, there are several tell-tale signs that coffee beans have gone bad. These include:

Dusty Scent

Fresh coffee beans have a strong caramel fragrance. But, when the beans are beginning to go bad, they develop a dusty scent. This is because of an increase in free fatty acids that cause rancidity.

Therefore, if you suspect your beans have gone bad, smell them. If they smell dusty or slightly sour, they are probably stale and should be replaced with fresh ones as soon as possible.

Discolored Beans

Another way to tell that your coffee is going bad is by looking at the color of the grounds. As a general rule, if dark-roasted beans are turning light brown, they are likely beginning to go bad.

Of course, if you roast various varieties of coffee at home, the color of the grounds may be misleading. However, it is still a good idea to look for this discoloration as an indicator that something might not be right with your coffee!

Sour Taste

Coffee isn't naturally sweet, but if it tastes incredibly bitter or acidic, there is likely something wrong with the beans. However, note that sour coffee can be attributed to a couple of things, such as:

  • Old age
  • Poor quality (beans roasted too darkly)
  • Low-quality water
  • Moldy coffee grinds!

If you are unsure whether your coffee beans are to blame, try a different batch to see if the issue persists. If you follow the same procedure and your coffee still tastes sour, it might be time to invest in a new grinder or change your water.

However, if the new batch tastes as coffee should, it might be time to toss those beans and start anew.

Source: Perfect Brew

Is It Safe to Use Expired Coffee Beans?

So, we've established that coffee beans don't technically go bad, but what about the expiration date? Can you still drink coffee after it expires, or will you get sick?

Drinking old coffee won't make you ill, even if the expiration date has passed. You see, unlike foods like bread or bananas that are prone to bacteria growth, coffee doesn't really "go bad" in the way that they do. Therefore, old coffee won't make you sick, but the taste might not be as good.

The natural oils in coffee will go rancid over time, affecting the taste, and smell and no one wants rancid coffee…or week-old coffee, for that matter.

Therefore, once you open a bag of coffee, it's best to use it up within two weeks. However, if your coffee is in whole bean form, it will stay fresh for about four months if stored in a cool, dark place. And once you grind the beans, they'll only stay fresh for about a week.

Source: PureWow

Best Way to Store Coffee to Make it Last Longer

You can do several things to make your coffee stay fresh longer. These include:

  • Buy fresh, whole beans: Always look at the "sell by" date to ensure you're getting the freshest coffee possible.
  • Store your beans in a cool, dark place: A cabinet near the stove or oven is not ideal because of the heat. The best place for storing coffee is in a pantry, cupboard or drawer that's cool and dark.
  • Keep them sealed in an airtight container: You can buy specially made containers or use a clean glass jar with rubber seals.
  • Never store your coffee in the refrigerator: The moisture creates condensation, which will collect on the beans, making them go bad faster. And if they come into contact with any food odors it's even worse!
  • Only grind the coffee you need: Coffee beans start to lose their flavor as soon as they're ground. Therefore, if you buy coffee in pre-ground form, use it within a week or two for the freshest taste possible.

The quality of beans you buy also matters. So, in addition to these tips, make sure to buy good quality coffee beans.

Source: Public Goods

Wrapping Up

If you were wondering whether coffee beans go bad, now you know. Coffee beans are shelf-stable foods, meaning they can stay fresh for an extended period. However, the shelf-life drops drastically once the beans are ground due to factors like oxygen and moisture.

So, make sure to keep your coffee beans in an airtight container and grind them just before brewing for the best flavor. Also, use the tips we shared in this article to keep your coffee fresh longer.

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