If you really care about your coffee, then you are going to want an answer on how to keep coffee beans fresh after opening.
To continue making a good cup of specialty coffee you will need to know how to store your beans correctly in order to maximise freshness and flavour.
Whether you are one to buy whole bean or pre-ground coffee, we found that after a little research, there are many recommendations that are fairly simple to achieve.
However, there are a few little factors you should know about.
Why Choose Whole Bean Coffee?
Buying whole bean coffee is not just for your typical coffee snob, it is actually proven that a whole bean will last far longer than pre-ground coffee.
Fresh whole bean coffee has a lot of its original aromatics preserved within the bean.
Once the bean has been broken and ground down, the coffee will oxidise very quickly, releasing all these aromatics.
Why Choose Pre-ground Coffee?
However, it is important to note that not everyone has the time for whole coffee beans, and it can require some knowledge on how to grind them.
However, ground coffee will begin to present stale characteristics within 24 hours of grinding.
This is due to the oxidation which begins once the coffee has been ground, therefore, limiting the amount of time the coffee remains fresh after opening.
What Is Stale Coffee?
Coffee is a little different from your other basic household products, where for example, it does not act like milk, coffee does not go off as such.
This is due to coffee not having a nutritional profile for bacteria to infect the beans and ruining it for human consumption.
But coffee does become stale, which will happen if they are not packaged or stored correctly.
Sometimes you may not consume your coffee within the recommended time frame, and you will lose all the flavours and aromas that coffee should have.
So although still generally ok for human consumption, stale coffee beans are basically what’s classified as unfresh coffee, and not recommended for consumption.
How To Keep Coffee Fresh After Opening?
The most important action you need to ensure you do after opening your coffee is to avoid air, moisture, heat and light.
What this means is you will need to keep your beans in an airtight and cool packaging in order to keep your beans fresh and preserve the flavours for as long as possible.
Although a clear glass container may look the part, you need to avoid this too as these containers/jars will allow light to compromise the taste of your coffee.
A lot of the time the retail packaging that your coffee comes in generally is not ideal for long-term storage.
There are a couple of options you can invest in which you can find over on Amazon.
You also need to ensure you are purchasing the right amounts of coffee, it may seem obvious, but remember your coffee beans will begin to lose their freshness basically straight after the roasting phase.
This is even more important if you are buying pre-ground coffee beans as the whole bean has been broken down, resulting in increased exposure to oxygen, which in turn gives them a much shorter shelf life.
If you are new coffee beans you have just brought come in a foil-lined bag with one of those one-way valves on it, then this is a good sign.
You can store your coffee in these packages as the valve’s purpose isn’t so you can smell the beans, it’s to let CO2 out and to block oxygen from entering the bag.
Does Roast Date Matter?
You would think that the closer you are to the roast date the better the beans will be.
While this is somewhat true, especially for filter brewed coffee, a lot of people do not actually realise that coffee needs a day or two to rest after it has been roasted.
With coffee, you can have a lot of gas stored in there, so letting it rest for at least 24 hours is very necessary, think of it like a good bit of steak, you need to let it sit for a while.
For espresso, a lot of people suggest leaving it for at least 5 days, to avoid consumers tasting salt-like flavours due to the carbon dioxide released which takes a little longer.
However, you need to ensure the coffee you do decide to buy does show a roasting date somewhere on the packaging.
You will find that with most quality coffee roasters, they will clearly display the roasting date.
However, if you cannot find a roasting date, then chances are they are mass-produced coffee and possibly already stale beans.
Should You Freeze Your Coffee Beans?
Many believe freezing your beans is a good idea, and some suggest that putting coffee in your fridge may help.
With all the different opinions out there, trust us it is not a good idea. We have experimented with this first hand and found that it actually ages the coffee beans faster.
Mainly because moisture is a coffee beans’ worst enemy, the fridge especially can cause condensation to your coffee which pushes those fresh and precious oils to the surface.
If you really have to freeze your coffee beans, just ensure you are storing them in air-tight and unopened packaging.
After opening the packaging, you will quickly run the risk of moisture finding its way in.
You will have to ensure your beans then thaw to room temperature, however, just like a lot of things you put in the freezer, once thawed out, they will just not quite taste the same.
So avoid freezing your beans if possible.
How Long Do Coffee Beans Actually Last?
This is the big question, how long does coffee actually last? This of course will firstly come down to purchasing good quality beans, but ultimately how you package and store your coffee.
In general coffee beans will be at their best within the first 15 days after their roasting date, and will still be of high quality for up to 30 days.
After about a month, your coffee beans will reach their peak and begin to lose their flavour profiles and aromas, and of course, become stale.
However, if you are wondering how long coffee lasts to become undrinkable or possibly bad for you, this could take up to years, but again we would not recommend making and then consuming coffee with stale beans.
By factoring in some of the points we have highlighted in this article, you could give your coffee that extra life, ensuring they last for much longer.
What Can You Do With Stale Coffee Beans?
It is not all bad news if you find yourself with stale coffee beans, whether they are whole beans or already ground beans, you will be surprised at the number of quirky ideas you can use them for.
One of our favourite ideas is that you can experiment with specialty coffee brewing methods and alternative brewing from home without the thought of wasting good coffee.
Of course, the taste will not be where you would want it to be, but experimenting and playing around can really help your specialty coffee journey.
This is a great one with coffee beans that are already ground. The coffee is loaded with plant-loving nutrients, which can benefit your soil in the short term, or create great compost in the long term.
Another awesome idea for stale ground coffee beans. The slightly abrasive and acidic properties within ground coffee work very well as a cleaning scrub.
We have done this ourselves with success while trying to eliminate difficult stains and spots. Throw a bit of water or soap in the mix and your countertops will look good as new 😉
Stop Odours –
Due to the level of nitrogen in coffee, this idea is perfect for leftover stale coffee beans. It can help absorb and ultimately eliminate foul smells.
You can place these in your shoes, gym bag, bedroom drawers, under your car seat or anywhere else that may need some deodorising.
To conclude, there are many methods available to keep your coffee beans fresh after opening.
As long as you have some knowledge of roasting dates, and packaging materials, then you will be able to make the right decisions in ensuring you keep your coffee beans fresh for longer.
Sometimes the packaging you originally brought your coffee beans in is not the best option to leave them in, so transfer them into better packaging.
Remember, light, moisture, and oxygen are a coffee’s worst enemy, so make sure you are storing your coffee beans in dry, airtight and dark places.
For best results consume your coffee within the first 30 days of its roasting date, and when buying whole bean coffee, only grind what you need.