What makes a perfect morning? Start it off by grabbing a bunch of coffee beans, roasting them, and finally brewing them for that fragrant coffee goodness.
Green coffee beans are believed to last longer than roasted beans. That’s why some people choose to buy and store these instead of the roasted beans. Green coffee has also become very popular as a tea-like beverage that’s believed to be more nutritious than roasted coffee.
The quality of green coffee starts with storing them right, which begs one to ask, "how long do green coffee beans last?"
How they are handled from leaving the farm up to the time of brewing matters. So if you want to know the answer to this question, please read on…
What Is Green Coffee?
The name "green coffee" refers to the coffee beans before they are actually roasted and ground. It is the natural state of coffee, and they vary in color from yellow-green to greyish green depending on where they are from.
Green coffee beans are raw seeds that have been harvested and processed after being separated.
These beans have grown in popularity in the last few years, thanks to their many scientifically proven health benefits. The green coffee extract has become a famous weight loss supplement, thanks to media attention. And that is because it can block fat buildup and lower blood sugar.
Green coffee beans can also lower the blood pressure of individuals with mild high blood pressure.
Choosing the Right Green Beans
A number of things can affect the shelf life of your green coffee beans, and some are within your control while others are not.
First off, you probably won’t know how long they’ve been sitting before they were shipped to retail stores. You also may not know how they were stored and transported. These factors are beyond our control, but they do play a vital role in the shelf life of these beans.
Therefore, when buying green coffee beans, you may want to look for beans that are not too dry. Coffee beans that have been left sitting for too long after the extraction process are also too dry. When they are too dry, it could be because they were transported in burlap sacks. However, most supplies these days use efficient plastic liners.
When they are too soft, it means that they were exposed to the high humidity level. Even though molds are not a problem, soft coffee beans lack the boldness and flavor that coffee lovers want in their beverage.
Generally, distributors are not forced by law to indicate the shipping and harvesting dates on the package. That’s why most distributors make sure their old stock is sold before selling the newly harvested coffee beans.
As a rule of thumb, avoid buying beans that are too dry or too soft.
How Long Do Green Coffee Beans Last?
Lots of coffee distributors claim that their products can last for a few years when stored correctly. Others say that they will be good for about eight months after harvest.
Some distributors advise that they should be roasted immediately for better flavor and taste. However, experts agree that green coffee beans can be stored for one year without losing their aromas, flavors, and quality. But you have to make sure that you store them in a dark, cool, and dry place like the pantry or kitchen cabinet.
On the other hand, storing them for too long can result in the deterioration of the beans. So depending on where they were planted, you have to use them within 12 months after harvest to prevent loss of flavor and quality.
Needless to say, the better you store them, the longer they will remain fresh.
Factors to Consider When Storing Green Coffee Beans
Generally, coffee beans are hygroscopic and porous, which means they can absorb and retain flavor, aroma, and moisture. You don’t want to be storing them near onions, then, because they would take the flavor and aroma of the onion.
Remember, the conditions of where you keep them really matter to preserve their taste and shelf life.
So here are a few factors to consider when storing coffee beans:
1. Moisture Level
The moisture content of these beans changes as they are get processed from the farm until when roasted.
Before processing, the moisture content of green coffee beans is about 50%. But by the time they are shipped, the moisture content is down to 11%, which is the recommended moisture level. To maintain this moisture level, store them in a dry place.
The amount of moisture in the beans can make a huge difference in their shelf life. Exposing them to too much humidity can make them too soft and even lose their flavor.
Storing them in places of high humidity can result in mold, bacteria, and fungus formation that spoil the coffee beans. So even if you keep them in the right place, you should inspect them for mold before roasting them.
If we ask the java experts, they’d say that the right humidity level for storing green coffee beans is 60%.
When the temperature rises, the air retains more water. This means that when it's warmer, the moisture level in the air is relatively high; therefore, cool air is the best option for storing green coffee beans. In fact, most experts recommend that you keep them at room temperature.
Depending on where you live, the best temperature for storing coffee beans should be between 60 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
At 60 degrees Fahrenheit, the coffee beans won't dry out or lose their flavor. The storage pantry is ideal for storing them, but make sure it's not too cold or dry. Drying the coffee beans will cause them to become bitter.
Some experts usually advise people to refrigerate or freeze the green coffee beans, which is not ideal. That’s because they are hygroscopic and can absorb the flavors and aromas of the food in the refrigerator. Even if the flavor and aroma are not an issue, the temperatures in the fridge are too low for the coffee beans.
3. Light Levels
Most coffee farmers dry the harvested beans under the sun, which is the most efficient drying method. The sun can help lower their moisture content from 50% to 11%. After the moisture level has dropped, you should store them away from direct sunlight.
Exposing them to direct sunlight can dry them out. This is exactly why they are typically stored in opaque containers.
In the past, green coffee beans were shipped in jute or burlap bags, so, the chances of them getting dry or humid was high.
Over the last few decades, however, distributors have started packing them in airtight containers. You can pour them in zip lock bags or airtight containers and store them in the pantry, but don't store them in the freezer. The drying effect of the cold and the freezer burns will damage the coffee beans. Plus, defrosting them will result in condensation that could make them moldy.
So, when thinking about the right storage containers for coffee beans, you should consider the factors above. Luckily, there are companies making containers with lots of layers of barrier plastics. These containers can help keep the storage environment stable.
The best method for storing them is in sealed 4-layer bags that can help retain the flavor and texture of the green coffee beans. These bags have valves that allow them to breathe and protect the beans from over-oxidizing.
Whichever container you pick, make sure you store it in a cool, dark, and dry place.
Green Coffee Beans Vs. Roasted Coffee Beans: Shelf Life
Roasting your green coffee beans can lessen their shelf life from eight months to about six weeks or less. This is because roasted beans lose their bold and rich flavors with time. If left unused for a very long time, they can acquire a bitter taste and become insipid and dull. So remember to use roasted coffee beans immediately after roasting them.
Depending on how they were roasted, the roasted coffee beans can last for between 10 days and six weeks. Usually, the dark roasted beans last longer than the medium and light roasted beans.
The dark roasted beans can retain their flavor for six weeks, while the light roasted ones last for about 10 days. If you grind them, the shelf life of coffee beans gets even shorter.
Find out more about the differences between green vs black coffee.
Other than lasting longer than the roasted beans, green coffee has many nutritional benefits that make them quite popular. Green coffee extract is an excellent supplement believed to be effective for losing weight and lowering high blood pressure.
So make sure you store them properly in a dark, cool, and dry place. That way, you can always enjoy a high-quality cup of green coffee every morning.