5 Things That Make Your Coffee Beans Go Bad  – Coffee Gator

5 Things That Make Your Coffee Beans Go Bad 

on January 09, 2021

A nice cup of coffee, first of all, requires good coffee beans. It also needs the perfect coffee to water ratio and the right brew time. People who love coffee, most of them if not all, love making their own coffee cup and love serving it to others. Some coffee lovers use their favorite ground coffee brand, while others love doing their own grinding.  Baristas agree that grinding your own coffee gives a much better taste. Selecting the right coffee beans is just the first step, how you store them will greatly influence their taste. Whether it is ground coffee or coffee beans, proper storage can keep its taste and richness intact. 

Let's look at five things that greatly define the taste of your coffee. 

What Makes Coffee Bad? 

How you store and use your coffee are two of the most important things that influence how it tastes. It also depends on what type of coffee you are storing.  Coarse ground coffee has a longer life than fine ground coffee, while coffee beans survive the longest. Regardless of what type of coffee you are storing, four environmental factors are very important namely, light, temperature, moisture and air. 

1. Exposure to light 

Direct exposure to light from the sun or from a highly luminous artificial light source can ruin your coffee beans. Many people like to store roasted coffee beans in glass jars which are not opaque and allow light to pass through. This turns your coffee beans stale. Stale beans will give your coffee cup a leathery taste which obviously nobody wants. 

2. Extreme Temperatures 

Coffee is a food item, however it has a longer shelf life than many of them. Temperature acts as a catalyst for chemical reactions. Keeping your coffee next to your stove or in a cabinet right next to your oven will increase its temperature and make it react faster, which will change the taste entirely. Freezing coffee is also a bad idea, it will not only change the taste, but may also absorb the aroma of other food items kept inside the freezer.  

3. Moisture 

Moisture in the air affects almost every other food item. A humid environment is extremely unsuitable for storing food items and roasted beans are no exception. Moisture will instantaneously start reacting with the roasted beans and change their taste entirely in a short span of time. 

4. Air 

Coffee beans oxidize when they are exposed to air for long. By oxidizing we mean that the roasted beans react with the oxygen in the air, this reaction results in changing the taste of coffee. Out of all the factors discussed above, oxygen is considered to be the one that affects coffee the most. It allows the growth of microbes on the coffee surface and also hastens the evaporation of aromatic oils from the coffee beans.  The higher the surface area of the coffee, the faster the oxidization. This is one of the reasons why beans last longer than ground coffee.

The above four factors are known as coffee killers due to the extremity of their effects on coffee. However, the above are environmental factors and there is another that affects the taste as well as storage of coffee. This factor is grinding. 

5. Grinding 

Coffee beans do not usually come with an expiry date, but a barista grade cup of coffee usually requires that ground coffee is prepared from beans which have a roasting date not older than three weeks. That being said, you may not come across such freshly roasted beans all of the time. You might want to try a local café that sells freshly roasted coffee beans. Remember that freshly roasted coffee beans also need a few days to one weeks’ time to mature and you should not use them right away. Regardless of how fresh your coffee beans are, if you are into the habit of grinding all of your coffee beans in one go, you are probably not enjoying the taste of coffee to its fullest.  Once grounded, the process of oxidation will start right away. On the other hand, coffee beans will tend to retain their flavor and aroma more than ground coffee. So, grind coffee right before you want to brew it. 

How to Deal With it?

  • First and foremost, do not buy coffee beans more than your consumption needs, for instance, buy enough coffee beans to last for two weeks. If you buy a lot more than your consumption, you will end up with more to store and therefore the chances of your coffee going bad will increase. 
  • Check the roast date before buying.  
  • Grind coffee beans in batches instead of grinding all of them together.  
  • Keep a scale, weigh the amount you require and grind them, while keeping the rest of the coffee beans stored as per the given tips above. 
  • Write the ‘best before’ date on your coffee bean canister.  
  • Try buying coffee that is packed in foil bags which have pinholes and also a one-way valve that allows CO2 to escape, but does not let air inside.  
  • Do not buy coffee that comes packed in ordinary paper bags, they are more vulnerable to environmental influence.

Best Way to Store Your Coffee Beans 

Thinking of how to store your coffee beans?  You can store ground coffee or your coffee beans in an opaque container so that you can enjoy the beautiful view, but at the same time prevent sunlight from affecting the coffee. 

You can also buy high-quality coffee bean canisters which come with an installed valve for letting carbon dioxide escape, but preventing the flow of air inside the container. Some of these even come with a calendar wheel that lets you record the date when the coffee would need replacement. They are available in a large variety of sizes. Buy canisters which have been constructed from stainless steel and have a powerful lid system to keep it airtight. 

Special bags are also available for storing coffee beans, however we would recommend the stainless steel canisters.

Store the container in a place where there is no exposure to extreme light whether from the sun or from artificial light sources. 

The best temperature to store coffee is a temperature slightly lower than room temperature. Store it in a cool dry place, not a cold dry place and protect your coffee from extreme temperatures. Do not store it in a refrigerator and do not freeze it. 

To prevent oxidation of coffee beans, store them in an airtight/vacuum container. This will also protect them from humidity and moisture.  It will also ensure that the aroma and the taste of your coffee beans remain intact.

How Long Can You Store Your Coffee Beans?

When stored properly coffee beans can last for long. It is considered to be a stable product when it comes to shelf life, but this is only possible if it is stored in the right way.  Coffee beans that come packed properly will last for 8 months if not opened or if stored in the right container and in the right environment, as we mentioned above. How long you are able to store coffee beans without affecting their quality also depends on the type of coffee.  Experience will always teach you many things. If you already have a favorite bean brand then you may have an idea as to how long they can survive without changing their taste.

Best Places to Store Coffee 

Are you confused about where to store coffee? To answer that question, we have already mentioned the environmental factors that affect coffee the most. Your pantry witnesses a lot of steam, heat and maybe sunlight as well, so it may not be a good choice for coffee storage. However, if you have a kitchen cabinet away from the steam and heat of your stove/oven then you can keep your coffee bean container/canister inside. Do not store your coffee beans in the refrigerator or freezer. You can even choose to keep your coffee canister in a cabinet inside your other rooms, such as your living room.  

How to Store Coffee Beans Long Term? 

You bought expensive coffee beans and now you have to travel or you bought too many of them and want to keep them as fresh as possible. Well, our first suggestion would be to use a stainless-steel coffee canister equipped with a one-way valve for allowing CO2, but restricting the air inflow. Keep your coffee beans in the container and put the container in a dark, cool place which is free or least affected by environmental factors such as moisture, heat, air and sunlight. There are different opinions about freezing your coffee beans, there are opponents and proponents and both have theories to present. You too can experiment a little, store your coffee canister in your freezer after you have properly packed your coffee beans in it and let’s see how it turns out.

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