How To Handle Coffee So It Does Not Go Stale

Some people believe that coffee beans have an extremely long shelf life. That is not necessarily true. Coffee can go stale.

Once dried, green coffee beans can be held for quite some time. Coffee shippers and wholesalers maintain the green coffee beans can still be good after 2 to 5 years. This concept has recently come into question by conservative roasters who will not accept dried green coffee beans older than six months.

For the average consumer however, we are talking about roasted coffee beans, or ground coffee.

How Long Does Coffee Stay Fresh?

 How long to coffee beans a fresh? The snarky answer to this question is it depends who you ask. It also depends upon the conditions in which the coffee is stored. We will give you some ballpark figures and factors to consider. Your first place of investigation should be the “roasted on” date. That is the date on which you want to base your calculations.

  • You may also find an expiration or ‘best used before’ date. These are meaningless in terms of freshness. Manufacturers will put these dates on their to extend shelf life.
  • For maximum freshness and flavor roasted coffee beans should be ground and consumed within two weeks of roasting.
  • Ground coffee beans should be consumed immediately after grinding.
  • Whole bean coffee stored in a degassing bag up to six months.
  • Ground canned coffee can last 3 to 5 months he for opening.

In some cases coffee beans that have been in properly stored in the presence of moisture could take on mold. You would know you have stale out of date coffee simply by looking at it and, chances are, it would smell bad.

Like bread and other food items, coffee can also become stale. You can tell you have stale coffee in your cup because the aroma will be off. If it smells bad don’t even bother tasting it. Let your nose be your guide. Stale coffee is something that usually develops when the conditions for keeping it fresh aren’t met. One of the main culprits behind the development of stale coffee is oxygen.

When the beans or grounds are exposed to the air, then a process known as oxidation takes place. It’s this process that changes the taste. When you buy fresh coffee, the first thing that you have to do is to make sure that it’s protected from four things that will make it go stale.

Besides oxygen, you have to protect the coffee from light, moisture, and heat. Any one of these being introduced into your coffee’s environment will make your coffee taste bad.

It is really important to understand that the four enemies of coffee are:

  • Light
  • Heat
  • Oxygen
  • Moisture

The more exposure the coffee gets, quicker it will turn. One way that you can properly keep your coffee and prevent the staleness from happening is by using what’s known as degassing bags.

Coffee De-Gassing Bags – First Line of Defense

These are zip seal bags in a variety of sizes that you can put the coffee in to prevent the oxygen from getting to the beans. These bags let out gas build up, but don’t allow air in to compromise the coffee.

These bags are relatively recent invention that have the one-way valve inserted near the top of the bag. This allows coffee roasters a lot of flexibility by being able to package coffee that is been freshly roasted immediately. When these coffee bags are used the valve releases the CO2 out of the bag. But, since it is a one-way valve, it will not allow air from the outside to enter the bag. These bags are designed to keep your coffee fresh and to extend shelf life.

If you are buying coffee in a supermarket roasted coffee beans in a specialty café make sure the bag they are stored in has the valve. Sometimes they are a bit difficult to spot and you’ll have to look closely. Only use these bags if you don’t plan to store the coffee long term. You can put the coffee in a dark jar to keep the beans or grounds fresh. Any jar that doesn’t allow light in can work.

Dedicated Coffee Storage Container

Clear glass jars are bad to store coffee in because the light can impact the taste and viability of the coffee. You can buy specially made containers that are known to protect coffee.

The one shown is the one I bought after a bit of research. The Coffeevac patented system is able to preserve goods for 1 year and beyond by allowing products to breath and degas. It will hold 10 to 16 oz of Darjeeling and green teas.

Coffeevac’s have a unique patented vacuum closure system, our 2 way valve, allows the carbon dioxide from the beans to slowly escape, without letting oxygen in. Solid and tinted models protect light sensitive beans and tea leaves. Coffeevac’s save you money and guarantee smooth rich coffee flavor.These are usually made of plastic or stainless steel and seal with a vacuum lid. This prevents both air and light from getting in. Any container that you store your coffee in must be airtight.

Where you place your coffee once you’ve properly stored it in a container does matter. You have to keep the beans stored at room temperature. An environment that’s too warm or too cold will both damage the coffee.

Never store coffee anywhere that direct sunlight will fall on the container. You also want to make sure that when you store the coffee, moisture won’t be an issue. Your container should be completely dry before you add the beans or grounds. You should also not store it somewhere that humidity is an issue because this can lead to condensation in any container that’s not airtight. Never keep or use coffee beans or grounds beyond their best by date since this can also cause them to taste stale.

Do Not Store Coffee Beans In Refrigerator Or Freezer

There is a great deal of difference of opinion on whether coffee beans should be stored in a freezer or refrigerator. Most experts universally agree coffee being should not stored refrigerator. Remember those four enemies of coffee? One of them is moisture. Storing coffee beans in the refrigerator is an open invitation for moisture and condensation to affect the beans.

Also, coffee beans once they are roasted and or ground, are extremely susceptible to taking on tastes and smells of the surrounding environment. Coffee beans are very porous Have you ever had frozen food, the taste like a freezer? Or, have you ever had food that is taken on flavor overtones of others food stored nearby? Well, that can happen to coffee beans.


Very few considerations that you should look at when thinking about how to store your coffee beans. The first consideration is buying only what you will need in the near future. Don’t give them a chance to go stale.

Only purchase beans that have been stored in a bag with a one-way degassing valve on it. These storage bags greatly extend the shelf life of the coffee beans.

Consider buying yourself a dedicated vacuum seal, valved, dedicated coffee storage unit. They really are not that expensive and are great insurance that your beans will be in tip top shape for roasting whenever you like.

Wishing you good fortune and in your coffee adventures…

Coffee Lover’s Accessories:

Here are some gift ideas to help make your coffee experiences richer. We selected these gifts based on practicality and usefulness any coffee lover would appreciate.

1. Ground Coffee Dispenser. No need to measure every time.Designed to measure one tablespoon at a time, the dispenser can be used to place ground coffee directly into coffee makers or espresso machines. It is constructed to keep ground coffee fresh for maximum flavor, and the included base keeps counter tops clean of ground coffee spills. Holds up to half a pound of ground coffee. Click & Check it out here. Image below.

2. Digital Multifunction Kitchen and Food Scale An accurate scale is a must for precision coffee making and coffee bean roasting. This is a top seller. Precision Tare Button calculates the net weight of your ingredients by automatically subtracting the weight of any bowl or container.Runs on 2 AAA batteries (included) that automatically power-off after 2-minutes to preserve battery life. Click & Check it out here. Image below.

3. Grey Iced Coffee Maker – Travel Mug Pour hot coffee in – get iced coffee out. Make chilled iced coffee or tea in as little as 5 minutes, no ice needed and it works with any brewing method, including single cup machines, drip, and pour over methods 4 designer colors to choose from. Click & Check it out here. Image below.

4. Portable Cup Holder With Clamp – Durable, Portable, and Foldable! This is not cheap plastic – it is aluminum with great clamping power. It fits many sizes of cups and appears safe and secure when holding a 32oz filled cup, a mug (up to 3″ in diameter), a thermos, a water bottle, or a soda can. Click & Check it out here. Image below.

 Zevro Indispensable Coffee Dispenser, Silver – 1/2 Pound Ozeri Pronto Digital Kitchen and Food Scale, Elegant Black Zoku Grey Iced Coffee Maker, Travel Mug – Hot Coffee In – Iced Coffee Out Cup Holder Desk Clip Silver – Durable, Portable, and Foldable!

home coffee roasting basics

Leave a Comment