How Long Green Coffee Beans Will Stay Fresh In Proper Storage

Sipping on a morning cup, it can be easy to forget that coffee berries — like other fruit — are seasonal. The cherries are only picked once a year for a duration of two to three months. The exact harvest date depends on a variety of factors, like altitude, local climate, and the hemisphere the beans are grown in. However, once taken off of the plant, it may still take a while for the coffee to make it into a cup.

First, the coffee beans are put through three main processing methods, with each one imparting a unique flavor. Next, there are additional steps like dehulling the outer husk, polishing the beans, and sorting for any deformities. Finally, what's known as green coffee beans are created. This stage of coffee is ready for packaging and to be sent to a roaster — typically far away from the production. So how long will they stay fresh in this intermediate stage?

Green coffee beans are considered fresh for up to a year until roasting. After this duration, the product will start to have undesirable off-putting wood-like flavors. Who wants a tasting note of cardboard in their cup? And in a process as complex as coffee production, many other factors in addition to time, can ruin the quality of green coffee beans, too. Let's dive into them.

Environmental factors and storage affect green coffee bean quality

Foremost, it's necessary that green coffee beans are stored properly. The coffee's moisture content should not exceed 12.5% but not dip below 8%. Such an environment can only be accomplished through precise storing conditions, like a temperature of 68 Fahrenheit and humidity of 60-65%. Sounds incredibly particular, right? As a result, producers have turned to specially built-hermetic bags to ensure that all the factors are just right.

Not only do these containers need to keep external moisture out, but also to allow internal water to escape. And green coffee beans can't be exposed to light since it weakens the flavor. To top it off, oxidation also impacts the taste, especially after the six-month storage mark.

To combat such a dizzying assortment of factors, producers implement a variety of storage techniques. For example, those canvas coffee bags frequently spotted at roasters usually contain a uniquely designed internal bag. Specialty coffee roasters take pride in attention to detail. It's the care necessary to ensure the resultant cup is as flavorful as possible.