We all want our coffee beans to last for as long as possible but it’s also important to keep them fresh as there is nothing worse than making coffee with stale beans and only realizing when you come to take a sip.
You need to know how to tell if your coffee beans have gone stale, before you make the effort to grind them and even worse, serve them to friends or relations in a drink? If you do make coffee with them, it will be incredibly bitter.
But here are signs to look out for to stop you getting to that stage, which will tell you your coffee beans are past their best:
- What do they look like?
Are your beans lovely and shiny? If so they should be fine as this is what healthy fresh beans look like. If they have become dull in appearance and lost their sheen then they are going stale. Coffee beans contain oils which dry up over time, turning them stale.
- What do they feel like?
If your coffee beans are still oily you will be able to feel this on your hands after handling them. If they have gone stale they will feel dry and there will be no oily deposit left behind on your hands.
- What do they smell like?
A key way to tell if your coffee beans are stale is by sniffing them. It’s the oils which provide that amazing coffee smell and so if your bean have gone stale, they won’t smell nice any more.
How long can coffee stay fresh for?
How long your coffee lasts, will depend on what type of coffee you have and on how you store it, but the key difference is whether you store beans, or whether you grind them first, before storing them.
- Coffee beans
Coffee beans which have been roasted will last up to six months before going stale, but this varies depending on the blend and the level of roast.
- Ground coffee
Ground coffee will only last for a maximum of four weeks before it goes stale, so if you want your coffee to last you need to store it in its original bean format.
So as you can see, coffee beans last longer than ground coffee, so the next key question is whether coffee beans will last longer if they have already been roasted, or if they are in their unroasted green form.
Do green coffee beans last longer?
Simply speaking, unroasted green coffee beans will stay fresher when stored, far longer than roasted coffee beans will. This is because they are incredibly hard and haven’t been through the roasting process which makes coffee beans much more fragile.
Green coffee beans can last for a couple of years before going stale, so if you are looking to store coffee for any length of time, this is the best format to save it in. You can then roast the beans when you are ready to use them.
How to store coffee beans
There are ways to store your coffee beans to help make them last longer as well, which is all key to retaining that fresh coffee taste, smell and flavor when it comes to beans.
To make coffee beans last longer you need to store them away from moisture, heat, light and the air, to keep them fresh and stop them going stale too quickly. If you put them in a glass jar on an open work top, they will go stale much more quickly.
When you buy coffee beans they often come in a re-sealable bag so this is the best place to keep them if you can. If the bag is not re-sealable then opt for an air tight kitchen container which is not transparent.
You then need to store that container somewhere dark and dry, like the back of a cupboard, where no light can get through and there will be no sudden changes in temperature. If you store your coffee beans like this, they will stay fresh for much longer.
More tips for keeping beans fresh
- Make sure your beans are as fresh as possible when you buy them
- Grind your beans in small batches when you need to make coffee
- Don’t buy coffee beans in bulk, you won’t be able to drink it all in time
- Don’t store coffee beans in the fridge
The best way to keep your coffee beans lasting a long time and retaining that fresh appeal is to buy them green and only roast and grind them yourself when you need to use them. Make sure you store them securely in a cold, dry and dark place, inside a sealed container as the last thing you want is stale coffee.