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How long should suitably stored beans stay palatable after roasting?

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  • How long should suitably stored beans stay palatable after roasting?

    Everyone talks about the dreaded stale coffee bean. But how long should suitably stored beans stay palatable after roasting?

    By "suitable stored", I'm thinking airtight canisters, etc. I've got some "airscape" canisters I'm using for the purpose.

    I've read some people saying that 2-3 months after roasting, beans will still be fine. Other writers seem to think this is far too long.

    Opinions?

  • #2
    Depends on what you define as 'palatable' - supermarket beans might be considered palatable but not enjoyable up to a year after roasting!

    What I can say from experience is that after a month beans will start to loose flavour considerably and by two-three months they aren't much good (compared to fresh roasted). Some beans do store a bit better longer but not sure why.

    However I would avoid the airtight canisters as I found they still retain too much air unless beans are packed to the top. I prefer the resealable bags with a one way valve you can squeeze the excess air out. Typically i will reuse my bags a number of times and ditch them once the seal degrades or they start looking pretty tatty.
    will admit I have never personally tried the airscape canisters so maybe they are better than others.

    What you will also likely find at the 2 month stage is you will have to grind considerably finer otherwise the shot will be too long.

    Comment


    • LatteLarry
      LatteLarry commented
      Editing a comment
      If they are not enjoyable, they are not palatable, nothing too complicated here. (It follows from the simple fact that only purpose of coffee is enjoyment!)
      Last edited by LatteLarry; 1 week ago.

  • #3
    WhatEverBeansNecessary Airscape containers have an inner 'lid' that slides down too the top of the contents and then seals air tight.

    LatteLarry Have you had a look through the Roasted Bean Storage forum? You'll find most of your questions answered in there.


    Java "No excess air" phile
    Toys! I must have new toys!!!

    Comment


    • LatteLarry
      LatteLarry commented
      Editing a comment
      Yes, I have been through the "Roasted Bean Storage" forum. Mostly found discussion on the "how to" store, rather than discussion of "how long". Also, I expect a variance of opinion, rather than one "correct" answer, as there is always a certain subjectivity to when to declare beans are "past it". I (reasonably?) suspect some of the more advanced snobs would turn their noses up at the Aldi coffee at any stage, for example!

    • saeco_user
      saeco_user commented
      Editing a comment
      "more advanced snobs would turn their noses up at the Aldi coffee at any stage, for example! "

      Correct!! ..............and don't have to be a more advanced user, I'm certainly not.

    • LatteLarry
      LatteLarry commented
      Editing a comment
      saeco_user Don't be modest! You don't have to be an advanced user to be an advanced snob... ;-)

  • #4
    Yes, with the Airscape containers, they are always effectively "packed to the top".

    Comment


    • #5
      But to make my reason for asking the question more concrete, I'll relate the following:

      About two weeks ago, I bought a 1kg bag of coffee from Aldi that had a roast date of about 4 weeks before I purchased it.

      Initially, I thought "uh, oh, might be stale, or close to it" after reading all the threads about the evils of old 'supermarket' beans. But it was the best I could do on Friday evening as my Eureka grinder had arrived unexpectedly early on my doorstep that afternoon.

      I was relieved to find they were still OK.

      And two weeks later, I am almost through them and they are still fine. Indeed, they are tasting better than two weeks ago (but I would put that down mainly to my complete lack of understanding and expertise using my new equipment two weeks ago!)

      So: six weeks past roasting, and beans are still just fine (at least to this poor uneducated palate). They've been stored in the Airscape jars I bought just for this purpose, but nothing worth offering up beyond that -- no nitrogen displacement techniques or advanced cryogenics I've neglected to mention!

      So just was interested in a reality check on other people's experiences with respect how long it actually takes beans to noticeably stale after roasting...

      Comment


      • #6
        Originally posted by Javaphile View Post
        WhatEverBeansNecessary Airscape containers have an inner 'lid' that slides down too the top of the contents and then seals air tight.

        Java "No excess air" phile
        Oh that's super cool! Never seen them before!

        Comment


        • #7
          The answer is 30,000 minutes for most beans and my taste but the answer varies depending on the bean, the roast depth and of course the person.

          "palatable" is a fluff word that means nothing to the next person.

          Roasted coffee continues to change in the first week after roasting as the CO2 releases and the O oxidises.
          It will then (as a general rule) stabilise for 2 weeks and this is often the "peak" window for the coffee.
          (3 weeks is 30,000 minutes so that's my initial answer)
          It's rare for coffee to be at it's best in 4 weeks but that's not always true.

          For the next 12-18 months the coffee deteriorates slowly, the point you determine it's no longer palatable is really up to you and typically the use-by dates are more about when the packaging starts to leach into the product.

          Comment


          • LatteLarry
            LatteLarry commented
            Editing a comment
            If "palatable" is too fluffy, try simply "enjoyable" instead. So you think coffee generally stops becoming enjoyable at 3 weeks post roasting? Or is 1-3 weeks the "peak" enjoyment period, with a slow decline after that? If so, when do you generally stop finding the coffee enjoyable, period? (Which is really what I'm getting at here.)

          • Andy
            Andy commented
            Editing a comment
            Why do you care when I (or others) find it enjoyable?

            "What I'm getting at here" is when do you not enjoy it as much is the only important thing.

          • LatteLarry
            LatteLarry commented
            Editing a comment
            Basically, a range of answers would give me a sense of how long I could reasonably expect to store roasted coffee once I got it home. Particularly if I, say, wanted to have more than one bag of beans on the go at one time. I'm not forcing anyone to share if they don't want to offer an opinion. So far, I have one data point. Thanks @WhatEverBeans!

        • #8
          Larry, I drink the bulk of my coffee between 1 week and 4 weeks, with the aim to be between 1 and 3 weeks. There is a bit drunk a few days after roast and a very small amount over four weeks. The coffee doesn't fall off after 4 weeks, but isn't the same coffee if drunk at one week. The point isn't that your coffee is terrible, but how much better it would be at its best. Your Aldi I am sure would better at say one week post roast versus six, even though you are comfortable at six. As I roast my own with beans from here, the cost is modest to waste some beans if I miscalculated my usage.

          I would suggest, for how I like coffee, to purchase enough coffee to consume most of it in the 1-3 week.

          Comment


          • #9
            Generally best until 3ish weeks and palatable until 4 or so weeks. I am yet to find a coffee at 6 weeks that I don't wish was half its age. As 338 said, "The point isn't that your coffee is terrible, but how much better it would be at its best."

            Comment


            • #10
              Yeah honestly I'm finding over time that I'm valuing resting my beans more. I think there are no hard and fast rules, but what everyone has said is good advice in general. I'm trying to rest my beans for a minimum of 7 days (more towards 9 or 10 days), and some have been the best they've ever tasted at 4 or even 5 weeks, which is bizarre. For some beans though there is definitely a drop off around this stage or a bit earlier. I think it may be very dependent on the particular bean, roaster and roasting method, depth of roast, storage method of course and so on. And yes if your beans are tasting great, awesome! I guess the aim is always to find ways of getting them tasting better, and getting the most out of them

              Comment


              • #11
                Originally posted by LatteLarry View Post
                Everyone talks about the dreaded stale coffee bean. But how long should suitably stored beans stay palatable after roasting?

                By "suitable stored", I'm thinking airtight canisters, etc. I've got some "airscape" canisters I'm using for the purpose.

                I've read some people saying that 2-3 months after roasting, beans will still be fine. Other writers seem to think this is far too long.

                Opinions?
                Palatable! it really is an open ended word, what's palatable to me may well be unacceptable to many people.

                To me palatable means it can be safely consumed, not necessarily enjoyed.

                Many food stuffs and drinks are palatable while being far from excellent.

                My father in law once remarked, when asked if he liked the sweet potato (he had never tried it before) "you can eat it" far from high praise, the same remark could be applied to most supermarket coffee, you can drink it, won't kill you, on the other hand, you probably wont ask for a second cup.🙂

                Comment


                • #12
                  I have friends that operate fully automatic machines using a variety of bean from local Cafes (not Roasters). My humble opinion of the coffee that they produce is that it is borderline undrinkable. They say my coffee is "really good" but do not fall off their chairs in rapture which tells me that they are probably not all that discriminating.
                  So - "palatable/enjoyable/etc" is probably not that meaningful to the 'average Joe', HOWEVER I would expect much more congruence on this Forum.
                  I would suggest that "how long" you can store your bean for before it deteriorates significantly is dependent upon "how" you store your bean.
                  Like you I live in a climate that is warm to hot for most of the year and I keep my bean in the 'fridge and detect little deterioration in flavour up to a couple of months.
                  I keep the bean in their original clip-seal packets, exclude the air and roll the top of the packet to keep it that way and then tightly roll the packet in a cotton bag and then a small handtowel before storing in the Crisper of the 'fridge.
                  Most on here would say I must have a 'crap' palate as the bean would have to be stale. I have been wine tasting most of my adult life and I can assure you there is nothing wrong with my palate. So don't worry too much about the opinion of others (including me) just approach your coffee with an open and enquiring mind and if it tastes fine to you at 2, 4, or 8 weeks then it's all good.

                  Comment


                  • #13
                    It can also be a moving target.

                    Your/our palate undoubtedly changes as you become more "snobbish". Once you have experienced another level of excellence, either due to a new blend, single origin, roast level, extraction method or equipment, it can be hard to return to where you were before and get the same amount of satisfaction from something less excellent.

                    What I happily imbibed and enjoyed 10 years ago, I would now certainly ditch down the sink.

                    So be prepared to change. Maybe order a few bags of roasted from Andy on BeanBay as a comparison to your current purchase?

                    GrahamK

                    Comment


                    • #14
                      OK, I'm getting that up to 8 weeks after roasting is still quite acceptable in many cases, for different peoples tastes, so that's a number I can use as a rule of thumb for planning, at least initially. I go through about 1/2 kilo of coffee/week (ran out of my first 1kg bag this evening, right on 2 weeks.) I've bought a half kilo yesterday evening from a friend who gets his beans from a roaster on the Gold Coast. It's labelled "Brazil, Fazenda, Santa Cristian Espresso Roast", so will be something different to the Honduran which I've enjoyed. Will be interesting to compare.

                      Thanks all for your input.

                      Comment


                      • #15
                        IMHO, the beans are a massive variable that is under discussed.

                        Something like a lighter roasted fruity Ethiopian heavy blend could last aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaages. For example, ONA use to recommend you don’t start drinking their Raspberry Candy blend till 35 days. Now they recommend a more moderate 21 days, but still, especially if you store it well, it’s super fruity well over 40 days.

                        Whereas I find things like darker Allpress roasts peak at about 10 days and go rapidly downhill not too long afterwards.

                        tl;dr the beans and taste will dictate terms.

                        Comment


                        • LatteLarry
                          LatteLarry commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Very useful observation, thanks!
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