Nothing is worse than grinding your beans properly, measuring out the correct amount of water, getting the water temperature just right, to produce a tasteless cup of coffee because the coffee beans you use are stale.
Coffee does go bad, but not bad in the sense like milk does. It won’t rot, stink up your entire house, but over time due to light, air, and temperature your specialty grade coffee will lose its flavor.
First, let me address the elephant in the room. Something we get asked all the time, “how long does coffee stay fresh.” Well, the answer it will depend on a lot of factors but let me give you a general rule of thumb. This answer won’t tell you how long it lasts but when coffee isn’t at its peak flavor.
Ideally, you will want to consume roasted coffee to enjoy its maximum flavor four days after the coffee is roasted until about 30 days after it is roasted. Doesn’t this mean that after 30 days, coffee should be thrown out? Are you crazy? No way. It just means you should look at the tips below which outline how to extend the life of your coffee.
Buy only the coffee you can consume in less than 30 days
Coffee begins to lose freshness almost immediately after roasting. Try to buy smaller batches of freshly roasted coffee more frequently. This is the ideal situation, but sometimes it isn’t practical. Maybe you buy in bulk to get a quantity discount. If this is the case, then keep reading.
Store your coffee somewhere airtight, away from light, heat, and moisture
Your coffee greatest enemies are air, moisture, heat, and light.
Coffee comes in various packages. Unless the bag it comes in has a zipper to make it airtight and has a one-way valve, then you will want to store the coffee in something else.
Find a container which is opaque and is airtight. Many times, you want to have your coffee out for convenience, maybe in your grinder, etc. If this must be done, then only include in the hopper enough beans for a few days’ worth of brewing.
Avoid places where there is direct sunlight or excess humidity, like under the sink.
If you can ONLY grind your beans when you are ready to brew
If there is something you could change/do which would make the greatest difference, it would be to buy whole bean coffee.
Once coffee is ground, then it begins to lose its flavor, and fast.
Grind only the coffee you are going to use in one setting and grind it once all other parts of the brewing process are completed.
Should you refrigerate or freeze your coffee?
There are a lot of different viewpoints on this subject. If you were to look around the internet, you would see people recommending and not recommending both.
I personally would avoid refrigeration because coffee is like a sponge; it absorbs everything around it including the smells of your fridge. The value of a dark, low humidity environment in my personal opinion by the risk of picking up unwanted foreign flavors within your coffee.
If you were to pick an option, I would say freezing is your best option. This is only assuming you have more than you can consume in 30 days.
When freezing only freeze small amount, say what you would use in a week, so when removed the entire amount of coffee can be used vs. need to freeze it again.
To avoid freezer burn, the best option is to vacuum seal the coffee to remove all oxygen.
Moral of the story? Coffee has a shelf life, and to enjoy your coffee at the highest levels, make sure you are purchasing only fresh roasted coffee, and consuming it within 30 days.