Ahhh, topic of endless debate with so many variables! We put this complicated question to the experts that roast our best selling coffee beans.
Craig Margolius, Founder, SYP Coffee
As a general rule of thumb, many palettes may not see any degradation in taste in a ground bag of coffee, as long as its stayed sealed and has a degassing valve, for 30+ days. Once opened, it should be kept in a cool, dry dark place and can render a beautiful cup for at least 2 weeks. Whole bean, as a rule, has a longer shelf life with less surface area of the coffee exposed to oxygen and staling. I once had a roaster tell me I had 7 minutes to pull an espresso shot after grinding before flavors would begin to break down-ha!
Also, there are many nuances around this general timeline—in fact, flavors can actually develop beautifully anywhere from 3 days to 2 weeks off roast as coffee rests and degasses... and some roasters infuse their bags with nitrogen to extend a sealed bag's shelf life although once opened, science takes hold.
Neal Russler, Production Manager, Frothy Monkey
For retail bags of coffee, it really just comes down to the form the coffee is in and how it's stored.
If you're buying our whole bean coffee, and keeping it in a cool, airtight, dark container (or, just the bag it comes in, which features a "one-way valve", that allows off-gas to escape without letting damaging oxygen inside), we'd say that it'll stay "drinkable" for nine months, but it might be a bit flat and winey by then. But, we don't advise drinking anything after nine months.
Pre-ground coffee oxidizes faster, and therefore breaks down faster, even in its original package. So, it doesn't stay as good for as long as whole bean coffee. If you're buying ground coffee, it'll stay good for about a month or two.
While it is true that freezing your coffee will prolong its molecular compounds, and thus stay "fresher", but freezing coffee absolutely zaps all of the flavor out of it, so we really don't recommend that.
Charles Loosier, Manager, Bongo Java
I'll start by saying that there are many nuances and caveats that go into determining how long a coffee is "good" or "fresh". Roast profile, packaging, storage, brew method and more can be major factors.
We do our best to keep it simple when answering this question however. After coffee is roasted it goes through a degassing period and needs to rest for a few days give or take before it's truly ready to brew.
So, a good general rule of thumb is for peak taste you should try to drink your coffee starting around 3 days after it has been roasted and within 3 to 4 weeks. With that said, there are certain coffees, like for instance the Bongo Java developed Batch blend, that was formulated to get smoother as it ages and tastes great for many months after it's roasted date.
Edward C. Stevenson, President and CEO, Kijiji
Kijiji coffee has a six month shelf life. We roast it at just a little to the right of the mid-roast, which gives it a nice, smooth flavor with a little punch. Once we roast our coffee, we immediately put it in a ventilated bag that keeps it from getting stale.
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