How To Lengthen the Shelf Life of Coffee
20th December 2022
Freshly roasted coffee is good. Really good. So let’s make it last!
What is Coffee Shelf Life?
We can think of this coffee shelf life stuff in two ways. There’s the is-it-still-safe-to-drink way and the is-it-still-jam-packed-with-awesome-flavour way.
You’d think coffee would go off. What with its name and all (it’s called cOFFee, see?). But it doesn’t ‘go off’ in the way of mouldy apples or furry pizza. Instead, fresh coffee turns stale. This means it loses some of that head turningly delicious flavour it had when it arrived at your door freshly roasted. It’s still perfectly safe to drink but won’t make your socks rocket off with any awesome flavour.
So, How Long Does Coffee Last?
The absolutely accurate answer is ages and ages and ages. But the coffee lover’s answer? The flavour fanatic’s answer? Not ages.
Because coffee starts to lose some of its flavour as soon as it is ground. How come? It’s all down to the surface area. Grinding increases surface area, which makes oxidation happen faster. Oxidation is (in a nutshell) when oxygen molecules react with coffee molecules and cause the coffee’s sugars, acids and flavour compounds to start breaking down. This makes some of the scrummy flavour scarper off.
Here at Two Chimps, we grind your freshly roasted coffee on the day of dispatch to make sure it arrives with freshness and flavour aplenty. It’s awesomeness will leave you sockless! Sorry. Your freshly ground coffee will be scrummy for around three months after the roast date on your TC sticker. It won’t start growing legs after this date, but might not taste as bright.
Whole beans stay fresh for longer, especially if you reseal the bag tightly and squeeze the air out. Once you open that trendy Two Chimps bag, we recommend grinding and brewing your beans within four months. But, again, fresher is better!
Five Easy Ways to Lengthen the Shelf Life of Coffee
Fresh coffee is just the bomb. Take a sip and try not to smile. Impossible, right?
Make that fresh flavour last for longer! Here are some easy ways…
- Buy Freshly Roasted Coffee
- Choose whole beans
- Store Coffee Correctly
- Don’t keep Coffee in the Fridge
- Try Light Roast Coffee
Buy Freshly Roasted Coffee
Whether you’re Team Ground Coffee or Team WB, you always want to choose freshly roasted coffee rather than instant.
Because who wants something that’s already stale?
Big-name roasters don’t roast instant coffee in small batches. They roast it in bulk and then leave it stockpiled for months. Add to this the time it spends lingering on supermarket shelves, and you’ve got one bag of instant already old and dreary by the time you brew.
It’s the polar opposite at Two Chimps. We roast high-quality arabica beans multiple times each week to bring you coffee that’s fresh, flavourful and mind-bogglingly delicious! We roast by hand, too, so can tailor every batch. This is coffee AND SOME!
Choose Whole Beans
Whole bean or ground… which gets your vote? Both have their benefits, both are delicious. But, if freshness is your thing, whole beans might be the way to go. Oxidation still occurs with whole coffee beans, but takes place much slower due to their smaller surface area (compared to ground coffee). So, one way you can lengthen the shelf life of your coffee is to buy freshly roasted whole beans and then grind just before you brew. You can’t get much fresher than that!
Store Coffee Correctly
Keep coffee happy by storing it properly. Sorry to break it to you, but this means not…
- Putting it on the mantlepiece in Grandma’s best glass vase
- Making it a mini spotlight because it’s so awesome
- Giving it pride of place on the mantlepiece
To lengthen coffee shelf life, you need to protect your beans/grounds from a few things.
List of Coffee Foes:
- Oh So Angry Air
- Malicious Moisture
- Light the Lame One
- Hated Heat
This fatal four increase the oxidation rate and make coffee go stale faster. Air (oxygen) is coffee’s No. 1 enemy, which is why it’s super important to store your coffee in an airtight container. Go for one that’s opaque and keep it somewhere cool, dark and dry. Don’t be tempted to keep coffee toasty beside the cooker – this will turn it hot and sweaty!
Don’t keep Coffee in the Fridge
Don’t give your joe the chills in the fridge! Or the freezer, while we’re on the subject. Coffee disrupts our whole fridge-means-freshness equation by going stale faster in its chilly depths. It’s not the fridge (or freezer) that’s the real problem, but all that opening and closing of the fridge door. There is a temperature change in the fridge each time the door is opened, which causes moisture to build-up in the form of condensation. And, as you know, moisture is Malicious – it turns coffee stale! ?
Where does coffee want to make itself at home? Somewhere cool and dark like a pantry, and definitely not in direct sunlight.
Try Light Roast Coffee
Did you know that light roast coffees have a slightly longer shelf life than their dark roast pals?
This is because lighter roasts have a touch less carbon dioxide. CO2 is produced during the Maillard reaction in the roast. This is the fancy name for the caramelisation that happens when the coffee’s natural sugars react with amino acids. Darker roasts stay in the roaster for a bit longer, allowing for more caramelisation and the choc-toffee sweetness characteristic of a dark roast.
As well as caramel sweetness, Mr Maillard creates carbon dioxide. A light roast’s roast time is shorter, so there’s less of the reaction and less carbon dioxide created. And this, chums, is what gives them a slightly longer lifespan.
The cell structure also sees more of a change with dark roasts (because they spend longer in the toasty temperatures of the roaster). This makes them more porous. And this also means they age a bit faster. But we do only mean a bit. Your chocolatey dark roast ain’t gonna be old and wrinkly by noon.
Well done! You are a Preserver of Life. Or coffee freshness, at least.
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