How Long Will My Beans Last?
One perennial question on every coffee fans mind is always: "Are these beans still good?"
It hasn't been too long since we talked about the life of a coffee bean, so we figured now would be a good time to touch on the tragic death of the un-brewed bean.
How Fresh Is Fresh?
What does it mean when coffee is "fresh-roasted?" How fresh is fresh? Most roasters and resellers will sell coffee within two weeks of its roast date. At Seattle Coffee Gear, we pull coffee from our shelves no more than four weeks after the roast date. We let our roasters indicate if they'd prefer that it be pulled sooner than that. Additionally, some coffees that are vacuum or nitrogen sealed can last as long as a year, but that will be clearly noted on the packaging. Given those numbers, you can say that "freshly roasted" coffee is coffee that has been roasted within the last month.
It's important to buy as close to the roast date as possible, but don't worry if it's been a few weeks. More important is how quickly you use the coffee upon opening the bag. Coffee is sealed to keep the beans fresh. While you can usually press some air out of the bag to smell the beans inside, usually a small rubber gasket prevents any airflow into the bag. Because of this, the coffee is only expose once you open it.
From there, we generally recommend that you use the coffee within a week. For larger nitrogen sealed tins, beans can last a month or more after opening, but for a typical one pound bag of coffee you'll want to brew it within a week. This is a great reason to use a grinder at home instead of grinding at the supermarket/roaster as well. You can wait to grind the beans until you open the bag!
While there are methods of preserving coffee after its open, such as freezing, these affect flavor. For this reason we suggest that you stick to brewing within a week of opening!