There’s nothing in this world that’s quite comparable to a fresh cup of steaming hot coffee before taking on the morning.
The question is, how fresh do coffee beans have to be for you to achieve the optimum cup of joe?
You may be surprised to find out that the freshness of coffee beans and how they have been aged can dramatically impact the flavor profile and aroma of your cup of coffee. You truly can taste the difference.
So how long do coffee beans last?
Generally speaking, you should grind and brew coffee beans no more than two weeks after the roast date.
However, there is more to know about coffee beans freshness. Things like the type of beans, roast level, and conservation method can extend or shorten the standard two weeks.
Understanding how coffee beans are processed and prepared can help you to fully comprehend exactly why the roasting and aging process is so critical to the outcome of the cup of coffee in your hand.
Below, I will answer some of the most commonly asked questions about coffee beans, their preparation process, and how long you should wait before grinding beans to brew coffee.
The Optimum Grind Window
So when should you grind your coffee beans? Exactly how long after roasting will coffee beans be ready to be made into espresso or brewed for your cup of morning coffee?
This will depend on the type of coffee beans that you’re dealing with.
Some beans have more oil than others and this can help them last longer. The preservation process used on the coffee beans will also impact their freshness levels.
Nitrogen flushed Italian Coffee Beans
Many Italian coffee producers must ship their beans worldwide.
Beans like the Lavazza Espresso medium roast blend use a nitrogen flushing preservation process which helps preserve beans for a longer time period.
After opening a bag of these beans, you’ll have a three-week window to grind and use them.
Local roast coffees
You should start using these beans within 4 or 5 days receiving them after they’ve been roasted.
Once a bag of beans has been opened, you will have no more than 12 days to finish the bag if you want fresh and flavorful coffee or espresso in your cup.
Dark and light roasts
Dark roasts dry out faster than light roasts.
If you’re using a light roast, you can add up to three days. For a dark roast, detract two days.
Ground coffee beans
You should use ground coffee beans immediately.
Think of it like this:
1. Raw “green” coffee beans are fresh for 15 months.
2. Roasted Coffee is fresh for 15 days.
3. Ground coffee is fresh for 15 minutes.
What can you do to keep your coffee beans fresher for longer?
If you’re wondering if there is a way to preserve your coffee beans, you aren’t alone.
Many people wish to preserve the flavor profiles of their fresh coffee beans for a longer time period.
I won’t go over the details too much here, but we can cover the basics of preserving coffee.
There are a few ways that you can do this and a few things you’ll need to know first.
• Coffee beans absorb what’s around them.
Coffee beans tend to absorb moisture and oxygen. This means that they can easily become stale and may even take on the flavor of the cabinet they’re stored in.
• Coffee goes stale quickly.
Coffee beans will go stale as time passes. This is true whether you’ve opened a sealed bag of beans or not.
You will, however, be able to store beans longer in an unopened bag in many cases.
This is especially true with nitrogen treated and flushed coffee beans. Staleness can detract from the rich flavor of your beans.
It will make them taste bland and make them lackluster. As soon, as you open a bag of coffee beans, you should use them within a few days.
• Light and heat can also impact coffee beans.
This is why they always say to store coffee beans in a dark, cool, and dry place. Keep as much air out as possible. null
Make it Fresh, Make it Daily
There are a few ways that you can improve your coffee storage habits.
For the most part, you will want to follow the guidelines on the side of your bag of coffee bean if you have bought them from a commercial producer.
If you don’t have any clear guidelines, you’ll want to know the answers to a few questions.
1. Do you have ground coffee or coffee beans?
Coffee beans hold their flavor significantly longer than ground coffee.
This is due to the oils, gasses, and water in beans.
Once you grind them, air penetrates them faster, water in the air makes them stale, the aroma begins to dissipate, etc.
Ground coffee can be kept fresh as well, but it must be handled differently and is much harder to preserve.
2. How many times a day or week do you drink coffee?
If you drink coffee multiple times a day, you’re much more likely to use up your coffee beans in time than if you drink coffee occasionally.
Essentially, storage isn’t as much of a problem if you simply buy your beans fresh and use them quickly.
3. How do you drink your coffee?
If you don’t really care about the flavor of coffee itself and are a cream and sugar person, you won’t notice as quickly if your beans aren’t fresh.
Still, after a while, even your cream and sugar won’t help.
Let me tell you about the worst cup of coffee that I have ever had.
I once brewed a cup of coffee from a sealed package of grounds that I found in my hotel cabinet.
It was next to the coffee pot in our room.
I will never forget that taste. It was like drinking a steaming cup of old musty carpet.
My girlfriend and I learned a valuable lesson about coffee ground preservation first hand that day!
Grasping Degassing To Understand Freshness
Let’s talk about gas.
Specifically, the unique gasses and oils found in raw coffee beans and how they are developed and removed.
Degassing is a part of the aging process of roasted coffee beans and may be done at different altitudes and humidity levels.
It is sometimes also known as resting.
When coffee beans are heated during the roasting process, gasses from the raw beans are released.
These gasses begin to escape after roasting is completed.
Most gasses will escape the first day after roasting is finished.
Darker roasts will usually degas faster than lighter roasts.
As the gasses seep out, the beans will achieve their optimum flavor and aroma profiles.
There is a brief window in which coffee beans will reach their maximum flavor and scent potential.
This is when they should be ground into the perfect cup of coffee or shot of espresso.
After this window has passed, the beans will begin to dry out or become stale.
The more the beans dry out, the more their flavor is diminished or negatively impacted.
Degassing rates vary depending on the type of coffee and their roast.
The degassing process can take anywhere from 2 to 12 days.
A Brief Bean Background
To understand how to get the absolute freshest cup of coffee, it’s a good idea to understand where coffee beans actually come from.
They aren’t all grown in Columbia and they aren’t all from the same kinds of plants.
The coffee bean producing Coffea plant is actually native to tropical Africa.
These days, Coffea plants are grown in many locations worldwide, though they usually thrive in tropical environments.
They can be cultivated in many different climates and come in a multitude of species variants.
Coffee beans are picked green and raw.
Different types of beans yield different flavor profiles. The way that coffee beans are prepared, roasted, and aged can either accentuate these unique flavors or completely annihilate them.
Raw beans only contain traces of the flavors that they will later have.
To develop the true flavor potential of green coffee beans, the roasting and aging processes must be handled properly.
The roasting process imparts the unique and complex flavor profiles found in coffee.
This comes from the proteins, lipids, minerals, carbohydrates, amino acids, and caffeine in the beans.
• Go Fresh
Fresh is best. As soon as coffee beans have been rested for a few days, grind them and enjoy them.
• Buy Less Coffee More Often
Purchasing your coffee beans or grounds in smaller amounts is the easiest way to maintain freshness levels.
Don’t buy coffee beans or grounds in bulk if you can’t use it soon.
On a side note, don’t even brew coffee if you can’t drink it right away. It’s better to go to your store or coffee venue more often than to start your day off with a cup of mediocre sadness.
Thanks For Reading!
So there you have it!
Keep in mind that there are a few variations to these rules and your local coffee expert can explain them to you.
What do you think about store bought coffee? Did I leave out any brewing or preservation methods?
When do you prefer to grind your coffee beans?
I want to hear about the best (or worst) cup of coffee that you’ve ever had so feel free to leave your feedback.
Thanks for reading, and happy grinding!