With coffee, freshness is crucial.
I enjoyed a bowl of fresh strawberries last night – cut up just before I ate them …yummy. The left over strawberries that were cut up three days were thrown away. They were still strawberries, still had nutrition, but they were simply lacking in the “wow” factor.
Same goes for coffee beans. Freshness is all important. Coffee is an agricultural crop; coffee will lose some of its specialness over time.
How long before coffee goes bad? It all depends on what stage the coffee is in. The following are some broad guidelines so you can understand how coffee deteriorates over time (we’ll save the linear vs. non-linear deterioration curves for another day). Green beans are good for about a season; once beans are roasted they are good for around two weeks; once they are ground up they are best is used immediately – in fifteen to twenty minutes they will have lost noticeable flavor. And for espresso, it can begin to deteriorate in a matter of seconds, so drink it up or mix it with something to stabilize it with 15 seconds.
Or, just don’t care too much and let it go stale. It’s a taste thing. Our notion is that if you pay for good beans, you ought to prepare them in a way to maximize their flavor!