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How long do coffee beans stay fresh?

How long do coffee beans stay fresh? blog image

read time: 3 minutes

date published: May 31, 2024

last updated: Jun 07, 2024


Talking roast dates and freshness in coffee is an absolute minefield - and one that we’ve had to tread carefully as both an online coffee retailer and a bricks and mortar coffee shop.

As with anything coffee, there doesn’t seem to be a right answer (or even a common consensus) so we’ve created this guide to help clear up some common questions and set out our policy on coffee freshness.


Is freshest always best?

When coffee is roasted, it releases moisture and CO2 becomes trapped in the bean. As a result, fresh roasted coffee needs time to rest and degas before brewing, to avoid extracting sour tasting CO2.

Sometimes, freshest isn’t best. Coffee roasted specifically for espresso should generally be ‘rested’ for at least 2 days. As darker roasting = less moisture, darker roasted coffees should generally be rested for at least 2 days, with lighter roasted coffees dialling in better after 7-10 days. 

Coffee roasted for filter brewing are less fussy, and filter methods more forgiving. Fruity and complex coffees benefit from 7-10 days resting time to really open up those unique flavours.

Use by dates

How many times can we get away with saying ‘It’s complicated’? But it is!

Roasting brings out the oils in the beans which provide the flavours and aromas in our cups. After 3-4 weeks, these oils break down, flavours become dull and your brew less aromatic.

Our roasters all have their own very different guidelines - some as short as 6 weeks some as long as 3 months. We’ve had great tasting coffee that’s several months old.

For espresso roasted coffees we aim to ship coffees with a max of 6 weeks on their roast date, but recommend holding off on using any super fresh beans for a couple of days.

For coffees designed for filter brewing, we’re a little more forgiving, and keep a max of 8 weeks on their roast dates.

How to store

There are plenty of ways that you can prolong the shelf life of your coffee beans.

Oxygen, moisture, light and heat are coffee’s enemies. So we always recommend storing in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight and ideally in an airtight container like the Fellow Atmos Canister.

We also recommend grinding fresh only what you need as and when, and having a handy home grinder or bean to cup machine is ideal for this.

Ground coffee is a different story entirely. Whole coffee beans stay fresh longer because once coffee beans are ground, they have a larger surface area exposed to oxygen, which speeds up oxidation and degradation of flavour.

We recognise that this isn’t always possible or practical, which is why we can grind fresh for your chosen brewing method. If you’re buying ground coffee, best practice is to decant your grounds into an airtight container asap or make sure to seal your bag well.

If properly stored, coffee can absolutely offer a good cup even after several months, however the quality and intensity of flavour may start to decline after that first 6-8 weeks.

Recipe Adjustments

So you’ve got some beans, they cost you a pretty penny but it’s 6 weeks since you’ve bought them and they’re not as fresh as they once were. Maybe you’ve been away, or just been enjoying the craic at your friendly local coffee shop too much to make your own. How can you still get the best from these beans?

While nothing can restore lost flavours, some recipe changes you can try include:

- grinding your coffee coarser

- longer brew time

- using a stronger ratio of coffee or upping the dosage

- trying a more forgiving brew method like cold brew

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