How to Avoid Stale Coffee at Home
Find out how to keep coffee from going stale – just read on!
We love fresh coffee. We’d run a marathon for a mug. No, seriously, we would.
And stale coffee? We’d barely get off the sofa for it.
Stale coffee tastes dull and lifeless. It’s a far cry from those burstingly delicious, brilliantly vibrant flavour fireworks you get from a cup of fresh coffee. But… good news! You can avoid stale coffee with a few super-simple steps! And we’ve collected them all in this handy say-no-to-stale guide!
Phew. Dreary joe avoided.
Does Coffee Go Off?
Despite its name, cOFFee doesn’t really expire. It’s not like those apples going brown in your fruit bowl. Or the furry piece of toast down the side of the sofa…
Rather than thinking about coffee going off, we should think about it ‘losing flavour’ and ‘going stale’. Because coffee beans can last for years – but coffee flavour doesn’t!
Feeling the need for some science? Us too.
Why Does Coffee Go Stale?
There’s nothing better than breathing in a good, big breath of country air, right? All that healthy oxygen entering your lungs…
Your coffee doesn’t agree. Coffee and oxygen? They’re not best friends…
Oxidation is the process that makes coffee go off. In simple terms, oxidation is when oxygen molecules react with molecules in the coffee and cause its acids, aromas, sugars and flavour compounds to break down. This leaves it tasting less flavourful and a little dull.
Oxidation is at work all around us and doesn’t tend to be pretty. Remember those brown apples? Oxidation is to blame.
So, how long does coffee last? The answer depends on whether wholebeans or ground coffee are sitting in your coffee tin.
How Long Do Coffee Beans Last?
The absolutely accurate answer is yonks and yonks and yonks. But the coffee lover’s answer? Not yonks and yonks and yonks.
The optimal time to grind, brew and enjoy coffee beans is a month or two after the roast date. You don’t want to brew them straight from the roaster (they need a few days to degas), but any time within the next few months will be A* AWESOME!
Oxidation takes place much slower in whole coffee beans (we’ll tell you why in a mo), but it’s still a thing. That’s not to say your beans will grow legs and turn purple after two months. They’ll still be perfectly safe and super tasty for months and even years, but just not headturningly super tasty. Not when Mr Oxidation is around…
How Long Does Ground Coffee Last?
The teeny-weeny downside is that ground coffee loses its flavour a tad faster than whole coffee beans. But is this really a downside? Just means you need to drink it a little faster…
Grinding increases the beans’ surface area, which makes oxidation happen faster in ground coffee than in wholebeans. Oxidation gets started almost as soon as the coffee is ground, and this causes a bit of flavour loss. But we really do mean a bit – ground coffee will still have sackfuls of flavour for a few weeks after the roast. Ideally, you want to drink your fresh coffee grounds within three months of the roast date. It’s just a drink-it-sooner-rather-than-later kinda scenario, that’s all.
Fancy a free coffee-making handbook? Make it happen! Just grab a FREE Brew Guide from TC! It’s your go-to guide for making coffee at home. Simply click the link and we’ll pop one in the post!
How do I Avoid Stale Coffee at Home?
Want to know how to keep coffee from going stale? Check out these top tips for coffee freshness!
Don’t Store Coffee in the Fridge
We turn to our trusty fridges when we want to keep things fresh. Because fridge = freshness, right?
Nopety nope. Not when it comes to your joe.
Storing coffee in the fridge (or freezer) rather than at room temperature actually makes it deteriorate more quickly. This is because we open and close the fridge door countless times throughout the day. Each time we whack open the door, we cause a little temperature change to go on inside the fridge. This causes condensation to build up on the coffee. And what is condensation’s other name? MOISTURE. And moisture ain’t great for coffee because it speeds up the ageing process and makes coffee go stale. Dun, dun, duuuun!!!
Store your precious coffee somewhere cool-ish instead. It’s not an Ibiza sun-worshipper, so don’t make it all hot and sweaty by putting it beside the oven. And don’t send it shivering in the fridge or freezer. Make your coffee at home in a cool pantry or larder, and it’ll be very happy indeed.
Store Coffee Correctly in an Airtight Container
Ready for your How to Keep Coffee from Going Stale tip #2. Of course you are.
Another way you can protect your coffee from oxygen is by storing it in an airtight container. Just think about a slice of Viccy sponge. Leave it out on the worktop and it goes stale and crusty. Keep it in an airtight container, and it stays fresh. It’s the same with coffee.
Keep them both in (different!) airtight containers, and you’ve got one helluva coffee-and-cake combo!
It’s also a top idea to choose a container made of opaque glass, ceramic or non-reactive metal. This avoids any reactions taking place between the coffee and its tub, which might impart some container-y flavours into your brew. Most definitely not-yum.
Great news, Two Chimps fans! You can keep your coffee fresh by storing it in its TC pouch! Our recyclable, black-dyed bags feature nifty freshness valves that allow CO2 out but don’t let oxygen in!
Keep Coffee Somewhere Dark…
Coffee is shy, bless it. It prefers somewhere cool and dark and hates – really hates – the spotlight.
Light makes coffee turn stale faster because the rays cause the molecules in your coffee to change structure, which alters its flavour. This process is called photodegradation. Crikey, include that in dinner party convo and you’re sure to impress!
Sunlight is the most harmful, but even lamps and lights at home will speed up coffee deterioration.
The solution? Keep coffee fresh for longer by storing it out of direct sunlight and in a non-transparent storage container. No excuses! You can even DIY-it by painting a mason jar black!
Buy Fresh Coffee Rather than Instant
Because you’re not going to avoid stale coffee by getting something that’s already a bit stale.
That’s right. Most of those big-name commodity roasters who roast the instant stuff do so in bulk. They schedule in giant roast days and then stockpile (we think they’re getting confused with lockdown loo rolls). Their low-graded roasted beans then remain bagged and stored for months before dispatch. There’s a fair chance the coffee spends a few months lingering on supermarket shelves, too…
Switch to a speciality coffee roaster, and you’ll enjoy freshly roasted coffee every time. Switch to Two Chimps, and you’ll get coffee roasted fresh THAT WEEK! Yup! We roast in small, 12kg batches once or twice each week to ensure every bag is fresh, flavourful and mind-bogglingly delicious!
It doesn’t get much better than that!
Buy Little and Often
One final tip to help you avoid stale coffee at home is to buy little and often. Yes, we know mahoosive coffee deliveries sound appealing, but smaller deliveries are the way to go. Trust us.
By ordering small amounts more often, you’ll always be putting the very freshest coffee in your cup. Coffee roasted just a few days ago and practically overflowing with scrummy flavour!
Placing regular orders – that sounds like a faff…
Nope! No when you’ve got a bespoke coffee subscription under your belt! Set up your own coffee plan and look forward to frequent deliveries of freshly roasted, single-origin coffee landing on your doormat. Whether you want coffee ground for a filter or need deliveries once a fortnight, you can create a truly personalized plan in our online subscription maker! Deep breath, I need to calm down. People are looking… 😄
Subscribing sounds good, right? It is. You don’t just avoid stale coffee – you save money! Find out more below!
Join the troop
And we will plant a tree