Can Coffee Beans Go Bad?

Coffee is Perishable

Can Coffee Beans Go Bad? The simple answer is that, yes, like any other organic product, coffee beans can go bad. However, the expiration date on coffee beans is a bit flexible compared to say raw chicken or a gallon of milk. Coffee beans contain potent chemical constituents that help it to retain freshness for a longer period of time than other kitchen staples. There are two elements to consider when defining coffee’s shelf-life: freshness and safety.

Freshness

When we say that coffee beans can go bad, we are referring to the beans ability to retain sufficient freshness to make an enjoyable cup of coffee. Coffee beans lose their freshness seven to ten days after first being roasted. Should you choose to brew a cup of coffee beans after this time period, it will likely be weak and lacking flavor.

When coffee beans lose their freshness, it is due to the process of oxidation. As the beans become exposed to oxygen, they lose their potency of flavor. This chemical breakdown degrades the freshness of the bean and, in turn, contributes to a decreased caffeine level. Fresher beans contain more caffeine than old beans.

Safety

Though coffee beans will lose their freshness after a little over a week, they remain safe to brew a cup of coffee with. Unlike milk or meat, this bean will not ever become unsafe to eat merely because it has sat on the shelf too long. Technically, it is safe to brew a cup of coffee from beans of absolutely any shelf life. Whether your beans have sat on the shelf for three days after roasting or five years after roasting, the beans will still be safe to use for brewing a cup of java. However, the beans will not be effective in making a fresh, well-caffeinated, and enjoyable cup of coffee.

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To Drink the Brew or Not to Drink?

In conclusion, when asked can coffee beans go bad, it all depends upon the sipper’s preference. If you prefer a fresh cup of coffee with a thick aroma and strength in caffeine, then by all means, don’t let your coffee beans sit for more than a week after being roasted. If, however, you prefer the flavor of coffee mildly and only require a light caffeine buzz, then you can technically let your coffee beans sit for a lifetime on the shelf. There is no official expiration date to coffee beans after they are roasted. Though you may prefer fresher beans, there is no harm and no foul in brewing with even years old roasted beans.

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