As much as we hate to admit it, yes, coffee does go bad. But the kind of bean you buy and how you store it will determine how quickly this happens.
Whole bean and pre-ground coffee have different expiration periods, and environmental factors can also impact the life expectancy of coffee. Keep reading to find out when coffee goes bad and the outside influences that expedite the process.
What is Coffee’s Natural Expiration Date?
After the roasting process, whole bean coffee starts to lose freshness. As soon as there is oxygen introduced to the beans, they start to lose flavor.
Oxidation affects the concentration of oils coffee naturally produces during roasting. This is why most coffee, whole bean or pre-ground, is packaged in valved packs. They have a specially designed hole or valve that lets out carbon dioxide and doesn’t let air in.
Whole bean coffee is at its peak freshness just a few days after roasting. It’s suggested to use by 1 month after roasting.
Ground coffee is affected by oxidation much faster than whole beans. This is because there is more surface area and smaller particles to be exposed to oxygen.
The time it takes for it to go stale is also much quicker for the same reason. It loses freshness at only 1-2 weeks after being ground, depending on personal preference for taste.
After roasting, coffee beans should stay out of the heat until the brewing process.
Heat will make coffee lose flavor because it accelerates the degradation of the beans. To avoid heat, put your coffee in a cabinet away from heat generating appliances or windows. Room temperature, or slightly cooler is your best bet for storage temperature.
Moisture is one of the ultimate enemies of coffee. It can make coffee you just bought go bad in just a few days. Keeping your coffee in a dry environment will prevent moisture from accessing the beans.
Ground coffee will be more strongly affected by moisture, because it will cause it to clump and lose freshness.
Keeping your coffee in the refrigerator is one of the easiest ways to let moisture get to your beans. Rapid temperature changes can create condensation on the outside of the beans and make moisture that affects the inside as well. Don’t store it in the fridge!
Direct light, especially sunlight, initiates a process called photodegradation which essentially destroys organic things. Coffee is an organic product.
The light will also speed up the oxidation process and break down the oils on the beans that give it a good flavor. For these reasons, it’s wise to keep your coffee in a dark place, like in a cabinet or pantry. Another option is to put it in a dark container and keep it away from windows.
To Sum It Up:
- Whole bean coffee can last up to 1 month
- Ground coffee lasts 1-2 weeks
- Air-tight containers prevent oxygen from spoiling your coffee
- Store coffee in a dry, dark, cool place
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