The taste of coffee begins to decline around two weeks after roasting, according to Ryan Hall, Director of Operations at Due South Coffee Roasters in Greenville, South Carolina, and Adam Kelley, Owner of Leopard Forest Coffee Company in Travelers Rest, South Carolina. They both agree, however, that coffee can be consumed and even enjoyed after the expiration date. According to Hall, “When it comes to coffee’s freshness, there are a lot of elements to consider, but how the coffee is packaged and stored makes a major difference. Coffee packaged in nitrogen-flushed, vacuum-sealed bags with a degassing valve to enable carbon dioxide to escape can last roughly six months, according to many coffee trade associations, whereas coffee packaged without nitrogen flushing and with a degassing valve can last about three months.”
It’s vital to keep in mind, though, that once you open your coffee, it will become stale much faster. As a result, infrequent coffee users will likely benefit from purchasing coffee in smaller quantities. “Buying too much in bulk and accessing the same bag daily exposes the coffee to oxygen and moisture in the air, which leads to degradation,” Kelley says.
The type of coffee, whether it’s ground or whole bean, can also determine how long it lasts. According to Hall, “Whole beans will always extend the freshness window. The aromatics contained inside those small beans after they’ve been roasted are a big part of what makes coffee alive and thrilling. When you grind coffee, you break apart the cell walls of the coffee beans, which causes the gases to evacuate the material at a much faster pace than if it were whole (whole bean).”