How long are coffee beans REALLY fresh?

Discuss flavors, brew temperatures, blending, and cupping notes.
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#1: Post by jeffg2020 »

I've always assumed beans are fresh for about 2 weeks from roast. So you have about 3 days for them to outgas, then after day 14 or so, flavor starts to fall off.

The other day I visited a local Brooklyn roaster, and saw the beans for sale were all 10 days old or older. So I asked the barista/sales-guy if there was anything fresher, and he said, "Why?" I said, well, 14 day window, etc etc. He looked at me as if I were from Mars and said, "Beans are good for 2-3 months, depending on the lightness or darkness of the roast." He was a bit supercilious about it, but whatever. Anyway, I'd love to be wrong here, as I end up worrying if I'm going to go through a batch before they start to fade. Of course I'm not saying on day 15 flavor falls off a cliff, but anyway I'd love to get people's insights on this.

Thx, Jeff

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#2: Post by happycat »

Tip! The more arrogant someone is, the less they actually know.
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#3: Post by *sigh* »

Those time frames you posted are a good rule of thumb but they definitely aren't a hard and fast rule. Light roasts can take longer to off gas and I've definitely had ones that didn't really start to hit there peak for 1-2 weeks and then were good for a few weeks after. That said to flat out say they are good for 2-3 months seems a bit extreme for across the board.

I'd say save a few cups worth and try it over the next couple of weeks and see for yourself if they were right.

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#4: Post by voozy »

I buy several month old beans from TJ all the time and they're perfectly drinkable. They are less flavorful than very fresh fancy pants beans but they're a lot cheaper and they wake me up as intended. The difference is probably more noticable with espresso, but aeropress (what I usually use) isn't that good at bringing out subtleties.
Everyone drinks Voozy.

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#5: Post by Ferrariandcoffee »

I had a bag of GH Tarrazu Espresso a few months back and it was amazing. It was like a great refined Colombian with awesome creamy cherry notes and sweet caramel.

Now i got ordered an order a week ago and it tastes completely different with mostly chocolate and nut notes.

What are the typical taste notes you guys get from Tarrazu Espresso or regular Tarrazu (lighter roast) ?

Edit: Maybe someone sent me Tarrazu regular the first time... I ordered from Drinktrade the time before.

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#6: Post by Nick Name »

For espresso I much prefer to use beans that are under 15 days old, but I wouldn't jump straight out of the window if they'd be closer to one month. Beans start to lose "fresh taste" after roughly two weeks, slowly becoming duller. It's not so big deal if you're not making espresso. With espresso you're kinda looking for trouble with beans older than one month.

Saying that beans are good for 2-3 months is often heard. Well, they certainly aren't at their best anymore but of course they won't go bad in a sense like meat or dairy products would go.

Since coffee is all about taste, if older or fresher coffee taste the same for someone, then there is not much difference for him/her. It is not the same, but does it really matter if that someone can't tell the difference? Probably not.

If that someone can taste the difference, then the answer is obvious.

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#7: Post by sluflyer06 »

We go through just over a pound a week at home for espresso, I buy kilograms or 2 pounds at a time otherwise with most roasters the cost starts to become pretty high. I buy so that we are done with our last order right when the new order hits 5 days rest, any less and to beans are too gasy for good extractions, but also I find the beans from most any roaster taste bland and stale to me by the the end of the third week, and not worth drinking after that.

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#8: Post by Espresso_Junky replying to sluflyer06 »

That's why home roasting is simply awesome if you have the time/means to do it. I average paying around $7/lb when everything is factored in. The way I roast/rotate my jars each batch is 7-9 days old max by the time I open/use it. I never plan to buy roasted coffee the rest of my espresso life.

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#9: Post by myso »

One of the cafes that I like in Brussels had this washed pacamara from Guatemala. It was one of their special lots since they were charging about 60 - 70% more than their regular pricing (17€/250g instead of 10-11€/250g).
The barista told that he had the last bag of the last roast of the coffee. Roast was slightly over a month old. So I ordered a pour over kalita wave 185. I wasn't expecting much from the cup since it was already a month old and it was stale according to my 'standards'. But to my surprise the cup was very good with crispy acidity and full of blueberry aromas on the nose from start to finish.
Since then I am more open minded if i see a pack older than 2 weeks.
But I still don't expect the coffee to stay good for another week if i open it after a month. In a cafe setting if a bean is preserved good in a pack for a month and opened and consumed the same day, it should hold it's freshness better.
For espresso i hear some baristas rest their beans a month before they use it in competitions.

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#10: Post by Ferrariandcoffee »

Don't you guys think it's all about the density of the beans?

The more dense, the longer it takes for flavors to develop?

The less dense, the faster they off-gas and go stale