Whether beans or brew, we’ve got the lowdown on how long coffee lasts.
Depending on the state it is in, coffee can have quite the lifespan. Different coffee products last varying amounts of time ranging from five minutes to five months and beyond. That is, given the proper storage and the product itself. We’ve done the research and have the know-how so simply read along to find out how best to store your coffee and when to say goodbye to a bad brew.
Life Before Brewing
A morning without coffee is unthinkable to most. That morning brew wakes up our minds and bodies, giving us the jumpstart we need to start our day. But what about before the brew?
Green coffee is what we called coffee beans before they are roasted. Green coffee beans are coffee seeds that have been cleaned, sorted, fermented and dried before making their way to roasters around the world.
Green coffee isn’t always green. It ranges in color from grey blue to green and even browns and yellows. However, it’s always called green coffee.
Green coffee can be held for a year or more without any major issue. The flavor will change over this time but the coffee itself is still preserved and ready to be roasted and consumed.
Roasted coffee is a product we are all familiar with. When green coffee is subject to significant heat over a period of ten minutes or more, we get roasted coffee.
Whether or not roasted coffee is whole bean or pre-ground will affect its lifespan. Whole bean coffee is still intact and, therefore, all of its components, on a microscopic level, are also intact. These components include oils and moisture which, when exposed to air and heat, will oxidize and affect the flavor of the coffee.
Grinding coffee does just that. It exposes those microscopic components to the elements and so begins the oxidation process. During this process, coffee will begin to taste stale and lose the vibrancy of its aroma and flavor. This is why grinding your coffee immediately before brewing is best.
Pre-ground coffee will remain fresh, if properly stored, for up to two weeks. After two weeks, the loss of flavor and quality will be noticeable. Again, if properly stored, this coffee will still be safe for consumption after two weeks. In fact, it will be safe for consumption much longer than that, though we recommend consuming pre-ground coffee within the month for the most enjoyable experience.
Whole bean coffee has a longer lifespan for freshness at four to six weeks. Because whole bean coffee is intact, it is not as exposed to the elements that accelerate loss of flavor and quality. Again, this is only true if your coffee is properly stored.
Proper Coffee Storage
The correct way to store coffee is easy and accessible. There are various ways to do so but the goal is to keep the coffee dry, cool and airtight
The ideal coffee storage container is double-walled, opaque and vacuum sealing. Double-walled and opaque containers maintain a cool, cellar-like temperature much more consistently than a single-walled or transparent container. The ability to vacuum-seal your coffee container assures that your coffee will be free from the elements and thus free from rapid oxidation.
It’s your job to make sure that no foreign particles or moisture make their way into your container. If your coffee comes in contact with foreign bodies or the elements, it can not only begin to lose its quality and flavor but also go rancid.
The oils and moisture in coffee make it susceptible to rot and rancidity just like any food product. While the process is much less common than for most food products, you still have to be careful and considerate of how you store your coffee, especially if you buy your coffee in bulk and/or pre-ground.
Brewed and Beyond
Brewed coffee has a much faster and impactful lifespan though it does vary from drink to drink. Read on to discover how long you have to enjoy each one of your favorite coffee beverages!
Hot coffee is best enjoyed fresh. We recommend enjoying your coffee within thirty minutes for the ultimate tasting experience but we’re also big fans of a thermos of hot coffee to help you through the day.
Proper storage is integral for enjoying hot coffee and keeping it fresh. If you like to enjoy coffee throughout the day but don’t like to brew more than once, we recommend investing in a quality thermos that will keep your coffee hot for hours.
At the end of the day, it’s time to ditch your brew or repurpose it for the following day. Simply transfer your coffee to a mason jar and pop it in the fridge. The following day, add an ice cube and enjoy!
Like hot coffee, your iced coffee is best enjoy fresh but can extend its life for a day or so if properly stored. We recommend keeping your iced coffee (in the fridge) for a maximum of two days. After two days, it’s time to toss.
If you enjoy cold coffee on the daily but don’t have the time or inclination to brew as frequently, cold brew is a fantastic option. Cold brew concentrate can be kept up to two weeks in the fridge if properly stored in an airtight container. Simply add a splash of concentrate to your cup and dilute to taste with water or milk.
Espresso has the shortest lifespan of this beverage family. The brewing process of espresso makes this coffee quite sensitive to the elements meaning that this little brew will begin to lose its tastiness within five to ten minutes of preparation. Espresso is best enjoyed in the first five minutes after preparation.
Americanos are more much resilient to the elements and allow for a slower process of enjoyment. Treat these drinks like an iced coffee and enjoy within a day.
Cortados are a small but delightful drink containing a double shot of espresso and a small amount of steamed milk. Like the espresso these drinks are best enjoyed within the first ten minutes after preparation.
Cappuccinos and lattes are somewhat more forgiving but still require drinking within an hour or two for maximum enjoyment. The steamed milk will begin to deflate over time and leave you with a less delightful drink as time goes on. However, iced lattes are as forgiving as americanos if kept cool and stored properly in a thermos or the fridge.
Withhold from Waste and Plan Accordingly!
The best way to make the most of your coffee is to plan accordingly. Avoid wasting coffee by purchasing only the amount of coffee that you will be able to use in an appropriate time frame. If you’re brewing for one, stick to one or two twelve ounces or sixteen ounce bags. If you’re brewing for the whole office, a five pound bag or two should suffice.
Always make sure you have proper storage for your coffee. The better your storage, the less likely you are to encounter wastefulness when it comes to your brew.
The same goes for prepared drinks! Chances are you won’t have an issue when it comes to sipping on your drink of choice from a cafe but if you brew large quantities at home, be sure to brew what you can get through in a timely manner.
No matter what you brew or the beans you use, coffee is best when it’s fresh!