Green coffee beans have a surprisingly long shelf life compared to roasted coffee, but there are no hard rules for how long they last. Unroasted coffee beans are seeds, and like how the seeds of trees and other plants (or even dried beans you might have in your pantry) stay good for months or even years, there are a lot of variables in play. As with any similar food item, moisture and heat are the enemies to long-term shelf life. Unroasted beans that were dried and the parchment kept intact have a longer shelf life than those with the parchment removed and then sorted for sale.
Keeping unroasted beans in a cool, dry place in a neutral container, e.g., sealed glass or plastic, would be better at preserving the taste and freshness of green coffee beans than unroasted beans sitting in burlap bags in a warm, dank warehouse.
Some people report vacuum packaging and freezing for multi-year freshness, but as with anything you put on a shelf or in a freezer, time will catch up to them eventually. Even if several-year-old coffee tastes great, it will likely have more muted flavors than a fresher crop.
What are Green Coffee Beans?
They are coffee beans in their natural state BEFORE they are roasted.
When you buy coffee beans at the grocery store, they’ve already been roasted. While roasted coffee beans will provide a fresher cup of coffee right after they’re ground — they won’t pass the test of time like green coffee beans will.
Coffee comes from a small red fruit that must go through many stages to become the tasty brown bean we all know as coffee. Most coffee is first wet processed to remove the outer skin, the pulp (which is actually fermented away), and the inner parchment skin. This leaves the inner seed, or bean, which is then dried.
This coffee bean is “green” (before it’s roasted) and is ideal for long-term storage.
What do People use Green Coffee Beans For?
It’s unusual in itself to see green coffee beans, as a lot of the flavor is brought out through the roasting process. Nonetheless, people buy green coffee beans for a number of reasons.
The first is that it allows you to roast your beans at home, which gives you much more control over exactly how the final product turns out. Some people simply drink green coffee, so of course, green coffee beans are needed for this, but the flavor is very different to normal coffee and isn’t necessarily to everyone’s liking.
There’s also a suggestion that using green coffee bean extract can be helpful to aid weight loss, so people also use them for that. It’s important to note that the weight management advantages of green coffee beans are not proven, so if you are considering using them for these purposes you should spend further time researching whether it will be helpful with your goals.
How Long do Green Coffee Beans Stay Fresh?
The process of roasting a bean causes changes in its structure so it will cause it to start to deteriorate and lose its flavor within about six weeks. Green coffee beans, on the other hand, remains pretty stable for a long period of time. You can, in fact, store it for up to a year without any noticeable changes in quality of the final drink, so storing green coffee beans long term is a far more feasible prospect.
The Final Verdict
For coffee purists, buying green coffee beans can be one of the best ways to get the flavors you want. It allows you to roast them under the conditions you want and be more aware of the quality of bean you are using.
So, how long do green coffee beans last? It can be tough to know, but if you keep them in the right conditions you will find that they retain their flavor for much longer than roasted beans.