Does Coffee Go Bad?: The Top 5 Tips for Storing Coffee Beans

It’s no secret that Americans love their coffee. Whether it’s French press, drip brewed, light roast, dark roast, whole bean, ground, cold brew, or anything in between, coffee is part of our cultural heritage.

In fact, America’s love for coffee dates all the way back to the American Revolution. Following the Boston Tea Party, John Adams declared tea “a traitor’s drink,” leading many Colonists to switch to coffee.

But as much as we love coffee, many of us don’t know the best way to store our coffee beans. Even though coffee can last for months past its sell-by date, it can still go stale in your pantry, leaving your fresh cup of Joe without much kick.

If you want to get the most out of your coffee, follow these tips for storing coffee.

Storing Coffee Beans Depends On The Type

If you’ve ever taken a trip through your local grocery store’s coffee aisle, you know that there are hundreds of varieties of coffee available.

However, coffee usually comes in three forms:

  • Ground
  • Whole bean
  • Freeze-dried

Ground

Before coffee beans can be brewed into the delicious, earthy drink that we all love, they need to be ground into a fine powder. Most people don’t have a coffee grinder in their home or workplace, so most coffee companies sell coffee beans already ground. However, this comes with a downside.

Coffee can last longer than a lot of other foods, but its flavors slowly dissipate into the air. And when a coffee bean is ground up into a bunch of tiny pieces, it has much more surface area. That means more areas where the flavor can seep out.
Due to this leakage, ground coffee only lasts between three to five months.

Whole Bean

Many coffee aficionados insist on buying whole bean coffee. There are a number of reasons to buy whole beans instead of ground coffee. The size of the grind can have a huge effect on the overall flavor of the coffee—especially if you’re using a French press or pour over, but the biggest reason is the freshness. Because whole beans have less surface area, the flavor is preserved longer. If kept properly, whole bean coffee can last as long as nine months.

Freeze-Dried

If preservation is more important than taste, you can get freeze dried, or instant coffee.
Among coffee snobs, the mere mention of instant coffee is enough to incite a riot. But if you don’t drink coffee often enough to justify buying fresh, instant coffee can be a good alternative. Instant coffee can last for up to twenty years. However, the freeze-drying process robs it of most of its flavor, so there’s not much of a point.

1. Keep It Tight

The two biggest enemies of coffee’s longevity are oxidation and moisture. As oxygen and water come in contact with the coffee beans, the oils that give coffee its taste escape the bean and are lost. To prevent this, store your coffee in an airtight container.
And if your gourmet whole bean coffee comes in one of those bags with a foldable top, that’s not going to do the trick. Move your beans to a separate container to help them last longer.

2. Keep It Dark

Another force of nature that saps coffee of its flavor and hastens its staleness is sunlight. Just as sunlight causes colors to fade, ultraviolet rays from the sun can also cause your coffee beans to break down. This will cause your beans to go staler sooner. 

As chic as it may seem to store your coffee beans in glass mason jars on your kitchen counter, this will let those pesky ultraviolet rays in. Keep your coffee in a dark cabinet or in an opaque container to keep them safe from light.

3. Keep It Cool

If you’ve ever made cold brew coffee, you already know that it takes much longer for coffee to release its flavor in cold temperatures than warm temperatures. 

In the morning, this heat allows you to enjoy your coffee without much of a wait. But if your coffee beans are stored in a warm place, they could lose their flavor faster.

If you keep your coffee above your stove, the heat from your cooking could cause the cabinet to warm up, slowly damaging the integrity of your coffee beans.

Instead, keep it in a cabinet far from your oven and away from exterior walls to keep it cool.

Also, if you find that you aren’t using your coffee before it starts getting stale, you can make your coffee last longer by keeping it in the freezer. This can increase the life of your coffee beans by up to two years.

However, many people claim that freezing coffee causes it to lose its flavor, so it might not do much more good.

4. Only Buy What You Need

According to experts, coffee reaches its peak flavor one to three weeks after roasting. Depending on how you store it, it can remain there for a couple more weeks before it starts to stale. But ideally, you will have drank all of your coffee before it gets stale.

You can store your coffee so that it lasts you a few months, but coffee is for drinking, not for storing.

To prevent your coffee from going bad, only buy as much as you’ll drink in a month. You might end up buying coffee more frequently, but that coffee will be fresher.

Alternatively, you can buy green coffee beans in bulk and roast it yourself.

5. The World’s Best Cup of Coffee

The way you go about storing coffee beans can make a huge impact in preserving coffee’s fresh kick. But there’s a lot more to the perfect cup of coffee than the way you store it.

The best coffee starts with the bean. And if you want the best, fair trade beans around, you’ve come to the right place. Look through our selection today!