While most of us drink coffee because we love the way it tastes, there’s another reason we drink it daily. After the alarm drones and wakes us for the day, it’s the only thing that helps our eyes stay open. But did you know that some coffees have more caffeine than other types? It’s true!
Perhaps you’ve been buying the wrong coffee this whole time. Or perhaps you’ve just been taking care of it all wrong. Now that you know about how it can lose caffeine, you’ll need to make better choices and care for your coffee.
So which one should you choose? Do coffee beans lose caffeine over time?
Yes, they do, and while the type of coffee you choose makes a difference, there’s much to learn about what you can do to preserve that precious caffeine content so your morning percolations keep you feeling lively and ready to face the day every day.
What can you do about it? Keep reading and you’ll learn how to maximize your coffee’s potential in every cup!
Do coffee beans lose caffeine over time?
As mentioned, yes, coffee beans lose caffeine over time. While you can’t make your coffee beans last longer than their shelf life, you can most certainly cause them harm and ruin them more rapidly.
For starters, if you’re buying ground coffee, you need to stop. Right now. Because ground coffee has an even more limited lifespan. The instant coffee is ground, it begins to oxidize. For this very reason, it is recommended that you buy your beans whole and only grind up what you need for each brewing session.
As soon as you crush up coffee beans, they oxidize and start going stale. You should immediately brew what you grind. Even waiting just 10 to 20 minutes can ruin them.
Storing your coffee beans properly is another concern. How you keep them when they’re not in use is as important as grinding them fresh. Coffee beans should always be kept in a cool, dry space out of the direct sunlight. They should also be in an airtight container. Once you open that vacuum-sealed bag, they will lose freshness if you don’t take steps to keep the air from getting to your coffee beans.
Some say to keep them in the refrigerator while others argue they should go in the freezer. There is a huge debate about this (read it here) though the best methods should be keeping them in airtight, dry and cool areas away from the sun. A dark kitchen pantry or cabinet will be a great place.
How long do coffee beans last?
If you have dried coffee stored properly, you can expect it to last for months. It may even last years beyond the dates printed on the package. However, the shelf life of coffee is contingent upon multiple other factors. The best before date, how you prepare it, and how you store it all come into play when you take that sip.
Unlike other items with expiration dates, you’re not going to be ill if you drink coffee past its expiration date, but the taste won’t be very fresh. It will still taste better than any gas station or waiting room coffee you’ve ever been tortured with though.
Ideally, you should use your coffee before the date stamped on the package comes and goes. If you don’t, you will live through the experience but your taste buds and anyone else you brew it for might not be so forgiving.
How Long Does Coffee Stay Fresh?
Those roasted beans you have are the absolute best about 15 days after their roasting. They still taste amazing for around a month after that roast. But anything after that and they lose lots of flavor. They’ll taste stale and you might be put off by the roast from then on, opting for a different blend instead.
Coffee takes years to become undrinkable. And again, that just means that the taste will not be palatable at all.
If you love coffee and want to experience it on a whole other level, make sure you get it as close to the roasting date as possible and use it up. Don’t buy big bulk containers of whole beans unless you own a café and can feasibly go through all of them in a short amount of time. Buying smaller batches more frequently assures that you will have the most pristine coffee taste in your favorite mug with Snoopy on it every time.
In fact, if you regularly drink coffee and you wonder why it tastes better at your local roaster’s café, this is the reason. You’re getting coffee made from beans that were just recently roasted and everything else pales in comparison.
Is there a way to preserve coffee beans for a longer time?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a long-term solution. This is why you should never buy those bulk bags of beans no matter how amazing the roast is. It’s easier to keep them fresh in small batches.
But what should you do if you bought a decent-sized bag of whole roasted beans and your boss tells you the next day you’ve got to go to Japan to seal the deal on a new client there and you’ll be gone for 3 weeks to a month? If you didn’t open the vacuum-sealed bag yet, you should be good, though it won’t be as lovely as if you started using that bag immediately. Without the air in there it should keep things fresh.
Even if you did open the bag, you can put it in airtight storage and put it in the freezer to slow down oxidation. Though some people may very well have your head for that. In the end, what you need to do is keep it as free of oxygen as possible to preserve the freshness.
Why Do Coffee beans Need to be Fresh?
When you’re getting an oil change or a new set of tires, or you’re on the road and pop into a gas station to get an emergency coffee to keep you going for the next 200 miles, do you ever wonder why the coffee in those situations tastes horrid? Yes, part of it is that it’s been sitting on a burner forever. The other part is the water. And the final component in making that coffee tastes so gross is that the quality of beans and their freshness is completely lacking. THIS is why coffee beans need to be fresh.
Most things taste better fresh. Think of when you go to your farmer’s market and pick fresh vegetables from the stand that came out of the ground that morning. You make a meal with them and it tastes incredible. If you go to the supermarket, the freshness is lacking because those vegetables likely came from California or Florida and spent time riding on a truck to get to you.
Produce needs to be fresh to taste great. If you bite into fresh-picked strawberries, there is a huge difference from ones that got sent over from a warmer place. Seasonal works best in the produce world, and while coffee has no season per se, it makes no sense to buy it old or even drink old stuff you forgot about in your cabinet.
Even at the bakery, you may score some discounted or even free loaves of bread and pastries at the end of the day, but if you go first thing in the morning, that stuff is just freshly-baked and tastes like something that fell from heaven. Baked items have a freshness limit to them too. The next day, your bread won’t have that soft bounciness to it. It will feel harder and lack that warmth. You can warm it up in the oven and it’s still edible but it lacks that amazingness it once had, fresh from the oven right after it was first made.
It’s all in the freshness and coffee is the same. Fresh coffee tastes so good you don’t need to add cream or sweetener to it. If it’s a roast with raspberry or hazelnut notes, you can taste it with perfection. When you buy older versions of that coffee, you may miss those notes or not even know they’re there at all. You may even say to yourself, “This doesn’t taste like Chocolate Raspberry. It just tastes like regular coffee.”
When you start buying freshly roasted coffee beans, you will have a light come on in your head. You’ll see just what you’ve been missing this whole time. Buy fresh whole beans, grind them as needed, and store them properly and you will get that coffeehouse experience in every single cup.
Can You Drink Coffee Beans Immediately After the Roast?
Absolutely! In fact, this is just about the best time to do it. You should aim for 20 minutes to 3 days when making brewed coffee. For espresso, you should wait a few days, between 3 and 5.
If you roast your own beans, you should allow them to cool, but if you’re buying them from a roaster, they will let the beans rest first before selling them. When beans are roasted, they are heated to about 400F to get a nice, dark roast. This makes carbon dioxide and that needs to escape after the roasting process is complete. Roughly 40% of that CO2 will be gone on the first day after roasting.
Next, you can bloom it. This is when you take a little hot water into your ground coffee and let it just sit for a moment before you brew it. It’s a necessary step you should take to get rid of any remaining carbon dioxide from freshly roasted beans. The sooner you brew your coffee after the roasting process, the larger the bloom you’ll get.
You can also do the bloom to see how fresh your beans are. If it doesn’t bloom, your beans are stale.
But waiting is also encouraged because if you do your brew too soon after the roasting process, you’ll get a huge bloom but nasty flavors along with it. Most roasters will not sell you beans that aren’t ready yet. If they do allow you to buy them before they are ready, they will warn you to let them rest first. Please heed their advice!
Coffee beans will lose caffeine over time. But they will also lose freshness too. It’s so important to take good care of your coffee beans by storing them properly. Never buy ground coffee if you want to keep it fresh either.
You’re better off getting a grinder and choosing freshly-roasted whole coffee beans. Grind up just a little to make your coffee and you’ll truly enjoy it more. Buying your beans as freshly-roasted as possible also makes all the difference in how your coffee will taste. When you don’t store it well though, it doesn’t matter how fresh that roast is. That roast will taste like burnt toast.
Air is the biggest enemy to coffee so keep it airtight and safe. Buy only what you need at the time and commit to buying more frequently. It’s not going to taste as good if you buy a massive bag for the next few months.
This is why your coffee doesn’t taste as good months down the road. It’s been exposed to the air too frequently and along with the taste, you’re losing caffeine that can help you stay awake and lively during work hours. Yes, even during those lame meetings that could have been an email too.
Drink the best coffee you can get as fresh as you can get it. It’s an absolute game-changer!