Hi, I’m Jon, a writer, engineer, and coffee lover. I drink at least three coffee drinks daily with whole beans that I grind myself.
Here is what you will learn:
So keep reading to learn if your coffee beans are bad or not.
- Coffee beans will never “go bad” as long as you keep them dry.
- After about 12 months, most sealed coffee beans will lose flavors and aromas.
- Almost all retail coffee has a “best if used by” date on its packaging.
- It is not harmful to use coffee beans that are older than 12 months.
When Do Coffee Beans Go Bad?
If you store your coffee beans in an airtight container and a cool, dry area, they can last up to 12 months. If you open a bag of sealed coffee beans, it will last a week before its flavor and boldness start to diminish.
Check the “best if used by” date on any packaged coffee to ensure fresh coffee beans. You can also extend the lifespan of your coffee beans by storing them in an airtight container in a cool, dry area, like your pantry or cupboard.
Why Coffee Beans Go Bad
Coffee beans go bad because they have natural oils that degrade when exposed to air, light, and humidity.
The higher the temperature, the faster the oils break down. That’s why storing your coffee beans in an airtight container away from direct sunlight is essential.
And since coffee bean containers are not 100% airtight, sealed beans will slowly absorb oxygen and degrade them. This will eventually make your coffee taste stale.
What if the bag is unopened?
If you have a bag of unopened coffee beans, they usually last for around 12 months, assuming you store them in a cool dry area.
If you’re unsure how long ago you bought the bag, check for a “best by” date on its label or packaging.
How to Make Coffee Beans Last Longer
Here are some top tips for making your coffee beans last the longest.
Store in a Cool, Dry Place
Store your coffee beans in a cool, dry area. Keeping them in the cupboard, pantry, or kitchen cabinet, away from the stove and other heat sources, is best.
Store in the Fridge or Freezer
Storing open coffee beans in the fridge can extend the shelf life of the beans. However, you will want to store them in an airtight container. Because otherwise, it will soak up the smell of other foods and water, destroying the taste of the beans.
To extend the coffee beans even longer, you can pour them into an airtight container (like a Ziploc bag) to avoid this.
Alternatively, you can also vacuum seal them before putting them into your freezer. This will preserve their aroma even longer, especially for dark roasted beans. 
From my experience, coffee beans can last about two years in a freezer before a noticeable drop in quality.
But this will depend on the container, freezer, and beans.
Avoid Sunlight and Heat
Don’t store coffee beans in direct sunlight or hot places. Don’t store them in your garage during the hot summer, or forget about them in the trunk of your car on a hot day.
Use the Vent Valve
Using the Vent Valve is an effective way to make your coffee beans last longer. This valve lets you release any built-up air pressure inside the coffee bean bag, which helps keep the beans fresh.
After roasting, coffee beans naturally release carbon dioxide (CO2), which builds up and creates pressure in the bag.
The “smelling hole” (as some people call it) or one-way valve lets you squeeze out this air without letting more air in. This helps with the bean’s shelf life.
Many coffee containers have a one-way vent valve, but some do not.
Reseal the Bag After Opening
When you open a bag of beans, reseal it as soon as possible. This will help keep your coffee beans fresh.
Some bags have an airtight zip-lock feature that helps keep them sealed tightly. If your bag doesn’t have this, close it tightly with an elastic band or a clip.
Use an Airtight Container
Besides sealing the coffee bag tightly after you open it, you can put it in an airtight container instead. This is a better method to keep out fresh air and moisture, which will affect the bean’s quality and taste.
You can also opt for a vacuum seal container to further extend the life of your coffee beans. Vacuum sealing removes excess air and keeps the beans fresher for longer.
Plan to Use The Full Bag
Suppose you’re leaving for vacation or travel in a few days and will be away from home for a week or longer.
Opening a brand new bag of coffee beans wouldn’t make sense in that case as they’ll lose a good portion of their flavor/taste and strength before you return home.
So, think about what you have going on in the next week before you open a large bag of beans.
How to Tell if Coffee Beans Are Bad
Here are the best ways to tell if your coffee beans are stale.
Check the “Best By” Date
The easiest way to tell if your coffee beans are bad is to check the “Best By” date, usually printed on the packaging or a sticker. The beans may have lost their freshness and flavor if the date has passed.
Look for Visible Signs of Mold or Fungus
If you notice any visible signs of mold or fungus on the beans, they are definitely bad, and you should throw them away immediately.
If the beans have a musty or rancid smell, they have likely gone bad. Fresh coffee beans should have a strong, pleasant aroma.
Check the Color of the Beans
Fresh coffee beans should have a deep, rich color. They may have lost their freshness if the beans appear faded or discolored.
If they are dull and no longer shiny, the coffee will likely taste stale/bland when you grind and brew it.
Taste the Coffee
If the coffee tastes too sour or bitter, it may be a sign that the beans have gone bad. Fresh coffee should have a smooth, rich flavor– if you’re an experienced coffee drinker, you’ll know immediately.
Consider the Storage Conditions
You should store coffee beans in a cool, dry place away from light and moisture. If you expose the beans to heat, light, or moisture, they may go bad quickly.
Use Your Intuition
If something about the coffee just doesn’t seem right, trust your instincts. It’s always better to be safe than sorry regarding food and drink.
Coffee beans are usually fine long after the “best by” date, but mold, mildew, or funguses can grow on them if moisture is present. These can be dangerous if you consume them.
What to Do with Old Coffee Beans
If you have old coffee beans on your hands, don’t throw them straight into the trash! First of all, you can still use them to brew coffee (as long as they’re not moldy).
Otherwise, you can use your old beans with these crafty alternatives.
Make Coffee-Infused Oil
You can use coffee-infused oil for cooking or as a base for homemade beauty products, such as body oil or a base for soaps and lip balms.
Simply mix your old coffee beans with olive oil and let them sit for a few days, then strain out the beans and use the oil.
Use as a Natural Deodorizer
Place old coffee beans in a small dish or sachet and place them in areas that need deodorizing, such as the fridge or closet. The coffee beans will absorb any unwanted odors.
Make a Coffee Soap Scrub
Mix old coffee grounds with coconut oil and sugar to make a natural exfoliating scrub for your skin. This will help remove dead skin cells and leave your skin feeling soft and smooth.
Create a Natural Dye
Boil old coffee beans with water to create a natural dye that you can use on fabrics or paper. This will give your projects a unique, vintage look.
Use in Your Garden
You can grind and add old coffee beans to the soil to improve drainage and provide plant nutrients. Just make sure to use them sparingly, as too much can harm some plants.
You can use old coffee beans in various crafts and decorations. You can add them to fill jars, decorate picture frames, or even use them as beans for jewelry making.
Here are some common questions about old coffee beans.
Can old coffee beans make you sick?
As long as there is no mold, fungus, or moisture present in the old coffee beans, they are entirely safe to consume well past the “best by” date and will not make you sick.
Can you use two-year-old coffee beans?
Yes, you can use two-year-old beans to brew coffee. However, they won’t taste as good as fresh beans and may have a stale flavor.
When should you throw out old coffee beans?
If the coffee beans have a musty or rancid smell, appear faded or discolored, taste too sour or bitter, or have been exposed to heat, light, or moisture, it’s best to throw them out.
Additionally, if you find any mold, mildew, or funguses on the beans, you should discard them immediately.
Can you drink a days-old coffee?
While you can technically consume day-old coffee, its flavor will be compromised. Consuming it within 48 hours of brewing is recommended.
If you’ve added dairy to it, you should refrigerate it promptly to prevent bacterial growth.
Coffee beans don’t go bad, but they do get stale after a while. Coffee beans still sealed in their original container typically last a year before losing taste and aroma.
On the other hand, an open bag of coffee beans usually lasts one to two weeks before getting stale.
You can extend how long your coffee beans stay fresh by storing them in a cool, dark area. After you open the packaging, you can seal the beans in an airtight or vacuum seal container for maximum freshness.
Do you have tips or tricks to keep your coffee beans fresh? Let us know in the comments below.