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The Shelf Life of the Roasted Coffee Bean sells coffee beans shipped within 24 hours of roasting. Most small batch roasters believe that fresher is better, and coffee is at its best when made from beans roasted no more than two weeks ago.

Ground coffee begins to stale after 30 minutes. For whole beans that are exposed to air, for example sitting in the hopper of your grinder, you will notice a drop off in the fabulous crema after 10 days. Sure, it will still be miles ahead of 99% of the coffee on the market, but none the less expect to notice the decline around the 10 day mark.

Unlike milk, which will go sour within a few weeks, or extra virgin olive oil, which turns rancid in less than a year, coffee beans have a seemingly eternal shelf life. I heard someone comment that “milk goes bad, coffee does not.” True, making coffee from year-old beans won’t have the same catastrophic effect as drinking 60-day-old milk, but there’s a significant difference in taste between beans roasted a few days ago and those roasted last month. Vacuum packing and one-way valves only do so much. Technology can’t improve freshness.

Judge for yourself. Brew two cups of the same blend, one from coffee roasted within a few days, one with beans more than one month old, and take note of the distinctions. In my experience the younger coffee has more body and flavor, and it even brews differently, foaming and expanding more while it steeps.