Updated: October 4, 2021 by Owen Richardson
Green coffee beans are all the rage right now. If you are new to the world of coffee, you might be surprised to learn that this did not happen overnight. From the long shelf life to brewing customization, it’s easy to see why more people are choosing to ‘go green’ with their coffee. But just how long do green coffee beans last?
If you are interested in trying out green coffee beans, this is a question you will want a complete and satisfactory answer to. Do you have other questions about the topic?
If yes, you will be glad to know that this page is a treasure trove of information on green coffee beans. Not only will you find out how long they last but you will learn all you need to better navigate the interesting world of green coffee.
Grab your brew and let’s dive right in.
What Are Green Coffee Beans?
Before you can get into the nitty-gritty of green coffee beans, it’s a good idea to first understand what they are. Now, you are probably used to roasted coffee beans, but what are green coffee beans and where do they come from?
The roasting process is what produces the usual coffee beans you see in stores. Green coffee beans are those that have been fully processed except that they have not been roasted. Since they are close to their natural state, green coffee beans are much more stable than roasted coffee.
There are myriad flavors in coffee beans. For example, beans from African countries like Kenya and Ethiopia have an acidic or citrus taste. On the other hand, South American coffee beans are mild in nature. All these differences are more apparent when the beans are still in their green state.
If you are particular about how your coffee tastes, sampling green coffee beans from all over the world will help you find what you are looking for.
How Is Green Coffee Processed?
After harvesting, the coffee cherries are prepared for processing. In dry method processing, the coffee is dried outdoors in the sun. The wet method of processing, on the other hand, involves the use of a machine in removing the pulp from the cherry. The beans are then sorted, dried, and packaged for sale.
Now, let’s get to the question of the day, which is how long do green coffee beans last?
What Is the Shelf Life of Green Coffee Beans?
Green coffee beans can stay fresh for up to 12 months. I know what you are thinking: That is a lot of time compared to the average shelf life of roasted coffee, which is six weeks.
However, long shelf life isn’t a guarantee of lasting freshness. Unless you take proper care of your green coffee beans, the elements will speed up the aging process. For example, exposure to excess moisture is not good for green coffee beans. Damp seeds provide the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, dangerous mold, and fungi.
What’s more, soft and moist seeds will quickly lose flavor. Coffee experts agree that maintaining humidity levels of 60% will increase green coffee’s shelf life.
Guess what, though: You also have to keep an eye out for temperature levels. Remember, it is important that your coffee beans remain dry if they are to retain their flavor for a longer period of time. Keep in mind that high temperatures are not good for your coffee beans. Dried-out beans produce bitter coffee with a weak aroma.
A temperature of 60 degrees is recommended. This keeps your coffee beans stable without the risk of drying out.
Last but not least, you have to be careful with how you store your coffee. Now, opinion is divided on whether it is a good idea to store green coffee beans in the freezer. That aside, just how long can you keep green coffee beans in a freezer?
Well, some experts feel that the risk of freeze burn and exposure to excess moisture as the beans defrost is not worth it.
My advice? Store your green coffee beans in an airtight, opaque container to keep them fresh for longer. Most of them are made of either plastic or glass.
One more thing: keep your green coffee beans away from sunlight. Otherwise, your beans will age faster, causing the rapid loss of aroma and flavor. For the best results, store your green coffee beans in a dark and dry place away from direct sunlight.
Back to our original question: How long do green coffee beans keep? Well, the simple answer is up to a year if you take good care of them.
How to Choose Green Coffee Beans That Will Last
Ideally, you want the green coffee beans you purchase to last for a long time. But, unless you take certain precautions, you will end up with subpar beans on your hands. While you can control the storage of your coffee beans, certain factors are beyond your reach.
For example, you have no way of finding out how long the coffee beans were in storage before you purchased them. The only way of finding out if your beans are in good condition is through observation.
Here is what you should keep an eye out for:
Mold forming on your green coffee beans is a serious issue. Drinking coffee from such beans will negatively affect your health in the long run. Start by checking the inside of your container’s lid and the surface of your coffee beans.
Be on the lookout for white or gray spots. If your search proves positive, then you are better off disposing of the beans.
Carefully observing the color of your coffee beans will help you figure out if they are still fresh. High-quality products are greenish. Beans will only start to change color as they age.
My advice is, do not make coffee from old beans. Your brew will come out with a bitter taste and a weak aroma.
Fresh coffee beans have a strong and bold smell. Smelling your coffee beans is an effective way of figuring out the state they are in.
As your coffee beans age, they gradually lose their bold smell. If you notice your beans smell stale or rancid, then it’s time for you to dispose of them.
Most of the time, smell translates to taste when it comes to coffee.
How Do You Store Green Coffee Beans Long-Term?
The trick to making your green coffee beans last longer lies in knowing the factors that affect their longevity. Once you fully understand them, it will be easier to preserve your coffee beans for longer. They include:
- Moisture – During harvest, green coffee beans carry around 50% moisture. But by the time they are packaged, the percentage goes down to 11%. This is the recommended level that you will want to maintain, and that is only achieved by keeping the humidity level stable, preferably at around 60%.
- Temperature – Temperature dictates the moisture content in the air. Green coffee beans should be kept at room temperature (60-70 degrees Fahrenheit) to preserve their freshness.
- Light – Any extra exposure to sunlight after getting the moisture content to 11% will dry the beans further, thus taking away their authentic aroma and flavor.
- Pests – Green coffee beans are an attraction to pests because they need such moisture content to survive. But as you are probably aware, insects could infiltrate the beans, not to mention reduce their weight.
Your choice of container will also decide how long your green coffee beans will last (more about that below). Mylar bags, for instance, can store your green coffee beans for over 20 years (unopened).
What Type of Container Is Best for Green Coffee Beans?
Recent developments in food packaging have made it possible to preserve the freshness of organic products longer than before. Green coffee storage hasn’t been left out. You have a variety of innovative food containers to choose from today, many of which are pretty easy to find and do an amazing job. Besides airtight containers, which we looked at earlier, other options include:
- Valved bags – These containers have a tight seal that effectively keeps away air and also maintains the moisture content in your green coffee beans at the recommended level (11-12%). Also, they are opaque enough to prevent your products from being exposed to sunlight.
- Airscape containers – Most coffee experts agree that Airscape containers do a perfect job when it comes to preserving the integrity of green coffee beans. Not only are they opaque but also super effective in preventing air from getting into the container. However, they are the most expensive on this list.
- Vacuum-sealed containers – Remember what I said earlier about airtight containers? That they are made of either plastic or glass and can prevent air and retain the moisture content in your beans? Well, vacuum-sealed containers do that too, but what sets them apart is that you have the option to get rid of excess air, thanks to their in-built piston system.
- Mylar Bags – Mylar is a metallic-like container you can count on to keep gases out. It is recommended that you use it alongside oxygen absorbers when storing green coffee beans. This way, your beans will be protected not just from oxygen but also humidity. It also has a seal to keep light away.
Wrap Up Coffee Beans’ Shelf Life
So, do green coffee beans go bad? Absolutely yes. Nonetheless, green coffee beans have a longer shelf life when compared to roasted coffee beans. All you have to do is store your beans properly. Keep them away from moisture, direct sunlight, and high temperatures.
Hopefully, you have learned all you need to know about how long green coffee bans last. With the tips we have discussed, you should be able to properly store your beans and even create tasty green coffee.