You’ve just got your hands on a fresh bag of coffee at your favorite local supermarket. Bonus: it was on sale, and it’s from a big brand, it's a deal right?! Well, it might not be, so please bear with me. Coffee as a consumable product has a pretty long shelf life, provided it is kept in ideal conditions, but it is perishable nonetheless.
So how long will my coffee last?
It depends on what type of coffee you have:
If you bought your coffee already grounded, it can be kept in your pantry for up to 6 months unopened. You can even prolong this by sticking it in the freezer and it will last up to 2 years.
If you have roasted whole beans, you can keep it for up to 9 months in your pantry and up to 2 years in your freezer.
Coffee will go bad if it's exposed to light, moisture, heat or oxygen. So remember to keep it in a sealed container, or in the bag you purchased it in if it has a vent. It also has to be kept in a fresh, moisture free environment. You don't necessarily have to keep it in the freezer but it can help to keep it fresh and tasty.
To tell if your coffee went bad, you can look for the roast date on the packaging. You’ll be able to tell if its freshness matches your needs.
You can also look for a flavor seal on the package, also known as vent or valve. That valve on your bag allows for the carbon dioxide to escape without allowing oxygen to enter the sealed bag. This valve increases flexibility for the roasters and allows us to immediately package the coffee without worry of the bag exploding on the shelf or in transit to the customer.
Try to buy whole beans if you can, as ground coffee tends to lose its flavor significantly faster. And small coffee grinders are available at most local stores at a reasonable price. If you’re really into the flavor of fresh coffee like we are, we recommend this for the best flavor results!
Big coffee brands tend to buy lower quality beans in bulk and they also roast them in large batches to cut costs. From harvest to your cup, 3 years could have gone by before you take a sip, resulting in your coffee tasting burnt or stale. If possible avoid such roasters and support smaller operators. Local artisanal companies’ entire business model is to focus on delivering small batches with fresher and more delicious coffee for its customers. Furthermore! Supporting local businesses helps sustain and grow local economies and entrepreneurs that want to give the best of the best to the people around them.
The best way to determine your coffee’s freshness is really to smell it and to taste it. Depending on how it was roasted, it should smell almost caramelized or nutty. A stale coffee will smell, musty or like cardboard. Yuck!
If you find that your coffee tastes lemony or sour, it might be turning bad. But it could also mean that it was not brewed properly. So use a combination of smell and taste to determine if it's still good for your consumption or to serve to your guests. Listen to your senses!
We really hope this will help you determine if you have good coffee in your pantry, or if it’s time to get a taste of New Flower’s freshly roasted artisanal coffee, made with love.