Why does my coffee go Bad?
Have you ever been surprised when your brew went rancid, or your beans not living up to your super high coffee standards – and wondered just how long coffee beans last? Check this now and discover how your precious coffee can ‘go bad’, and how to deal with it:
Know The Beans
The ‘beans’ are the seeds of the coffee cherry. As is, these little green beans are not fit for grinding or brewing at all.
They first have to go through the roasting process, which subjects them to very high temperatures, bringing out the distinct coffee aroma and flavor. Right after roasting is when your coffee beans are considered to be at their ‘freshest’. From this point forward, the roasted beans face their greatest enemies in the environment – oxygen/air, moisture, heat, and light.
How Long Do Coffee Beans Stay Fresh?
To answer this question, sadly, not that long, even if you take the precautions we’re about to arm you with. The reason is the delicate compounds in coffee beans will quickly react to all the elements mentioned above and hasten the process called oxidation, which affects the concentration of important oils in the beans.
Note that the longer the newly-roasted beans are exposed to the air, the faster they oxidize, sacrificing their taste (adding that unwanted bitterness) and aroma. This is why roasters try to avoid it by packing and delivering their beans as soon as possible after roasting.
If you ask any coffee expert how long coffee beans stay fresh, they will tell you that freshly-roasted beans should always be consumed within a week to one month after roasting, especially for those light roast in Kafeville, to make the most of its quality. After that, it’s kinda hit and miss!
How to Keep Roasted Beans Fresh
First and foremost, you want to keep it away from exposure to air or oxygen. Packaging is key. The most convenient packaging to use, and something you will most likely find in supermarkets and some coffee shops, are valved packs.
Valved packets of coffee beans are equipped with a specially designed hole that allows the release of carbon dioxide, without letting any air in that can make the beans go stale. Please note that these are not meant for long-term storage however, so always check on the roasting date on the pack.
Another storage option are airtight jars or containers . While mason jars can beautifully showcase your shiny brown coffee beans, they let in too much light, which can also affect the quality of your coffee.
Instead of clear containers, you may want to go for especially-designed ones called coffee vaults. which are typically made of stainless steel and secured with lids to keep the vaults airtight.
Once you have a good-sized, airtight container, it is important to avoid exposing it to high-temperature or hot environments. This includes areas like your windowsill, the cupboard near your stove, or the counter space beside your toaster.
Heat can accelerate the non-enzymatic browning and degradation of the aromatic properties of your beans, which also makes them go stale faster.
A common storage question often gets asked: can you freeze coffee to keep it fresh? The answer is you can but you have to keep in mind that the moisture figures into the equation when you place it in cold places, like your freezer. Even if it’s sealed tight in a quality coffee vault, taking it out, opening it, and returning it in the freezer, can cause temperature changes that allow condensation to form on the beans.
If you really need to freeze your coffee beans, we suggest you set aside the coffee beans you do not plan to use or grind for at least a week, divide them into small portions, so you only unfreeze what you need, and make sure to place your beans in a guaranteed airtight container.
Do Coffee Grounds Go Bad?
By getting here, I am sure that you’ve taken every care to choose amazing beans and store them properly to secure that heavenly brew that makes waking up worthwhile. What if you have to grind your bean to achieve the size and texture that’s right for the brewing method of your choice. How long can the coffee ground last?
Coffee experts suggest that you use ground coffee for brewing within thirty minutes from grinding.
This is because the grinding process further hastens oxidation in your coffee, which in turn reduces the freshness and strength of its flavors. If immediate brewing is not possible, try to store your ground coffee as you would your freshly-roasted beans but don’t expect the brew to still be as spectacular as it was.
How about my brew?
Oh yes, your brewed coffee can go stale too – even faster than whole beans and ground coffee! This is because water helps release more solubles, causing coffee to oxidize at an even quicker, accelerated rate.
Keeping your brew in a thermos may keep it hot and ‘fresh’ for a bit longer, but you’ll already notice a change in taste no more than an hour later – it becomes a bit more sour and a little bitter. If you want more fresh coffee to consume, brew only as needed.
There you have it, you’ve learned that your coffee – from beans to brew – can indeed spoil, as its oils, acids, and other chemicals can succumb and react to its natural ‘enemies’ in the environment. Just like any other organic food item, coffee requires proper storage and handling so you can maximize its freshness, flavor and taste.
Keeping it Fresh:
Always purchase freshly-roasted beans.
Be ready with proper storage containers for your coffee.
Keep your stored coffee away from oxygen, heat, and moisture.
Grind only the amount you need for your brew.
Brew only what you can consume for the next hour.
Now that you know the answer to the question ‘does coffee go bad?’ is YES – it’s no longer scary, because you’ve just learnt how to keep it fresher, for longer. You’ll never have to worry about a stale and bitter brew. Keep it fresh and you’ll keep yourself happy.