Green coffee beans have become more and more popular in the last several years due to their health benefits, brewing customization, and most importantly their longer shelf life. Unlike their roasted counterparts, green coffee beans remain stable for extended periods under the right circumstances.
If you are curious about this new caffeinated craze or you have some unanswered questions about the green side of beans, keep reading below. We will not only share their shelf life, but also the best way to keep them fresh longer, why they are becoming so popular, plus a few other details you might not know.
So, pull up a seat, grab a fresh brew, and read along below.
What Are Green Coffee Beans?
In case you are new to the world of green coffee, we wanted to take a brief moment to get you up to speed. Green coffee, as we mentioned earlier, has become increasingly popular due to the many benefits of the fruit.
The standard brown (or roasted) coffee bean comes from small evergreen trees that bare red fruit called coffee cherries. It is the seed of this fruit that is the coffee bean. Typically, when you buy coffee beans, they have been roasted and are ready for brewing. Green coffee beans, however, have not been roasted and are in their natural, straight from the cherry, state.
Coffee beans come from all over the world. As the non-roasted variety has been more and more in demand, you can find them at most grocery stores and other convenient locations. Green coffee, similar to roasted beans, comes in different flavors and boldness.
Green coffee beans that are mild likely come from South America while the more citrus and acidic flavors are shipped from African countries like Kenya and Ethiopia. If you are a fan of a strong, bold flavor, Indonesian and Brazilian beans are what you are after.
Why Are Green Coffee Beans So Popular?
For starters, they are a versatile coffee bean with several uses and benefits. Let’s take a look at the most important below.
- Health Benefits: One of the best things about this type of coffee is the health benefits associated with it. It has been linked to weight loss, increased blood circulation, and can help detoxify your body. High in antioxidants (which are severely decreased during roasting), you can find green coffee bean extract (GCE) in many multivitamins, supplements, and other products. They also contain chlorogenic acid which can help with high cholesterol, glucose levels, and boost the immune system. There are anti-aging properties at work, as well.
- Customization: Another popular benefit of the green bean is it can be roasted to your particular tastes. For those who love coffee and have developed a specific palette, roasting your beans can be a great advantage. You can customize the roasting time, flavor, boldness, acidity, brewing, etc.
- Other Beverages: Green coffee beans also don’t have to be brewed. They can be consumed as a cold beverage without any roasting whatsoever. It is important to note that “going green” with your coffee has a very different taste. Instead of a bold, rich flavor, green coffee has a similar taste to green tea with distinctly herbal notes.
- Shelf Life: The shelf life is another area where the green coffee bean beats out their roasted cousins. They remain stable for a considerably longer period, and some believe that they will remain fresh even longer if you freeze them; although there is some debate about that. Regardless, they last longer which moves us into the heart (or bean in this case) of the matter.
How Long Do Green Coffee Beans Last?
Green coffee beans can last between 6 and 12 months depending on how they are stored and the conditions in which they are held. When you compare that to the six weeks roasted beans remain stable, or the one to two weeks for ground coffee, it is no wonder more and more people are switching to the raw form.
That being said, the better you take care of your green coffee beans the longer they will last.
Take a look below for the most important aging factors.
- Moisture: The amount of moisture your beans are subject to can make a big difference in how long they will stay stable. Too much moisture can cause the beans to become too soft where they can lose a lot of flavor. Even worse, a humid area is prime real estate for mold. Bacteria and other fungus and molds can ruin your stash of raw coffee beans. It is important that you check your beans carefully for signs of mold as it can cause serious health risks if ingested. The optimal humidity level is 60% according to java experts.
- Temperature: Like humidity, the optimal temperature to store your green coffee beans is 60-degrees. This will keep your coffee rich and flavorful without drying it out. A storage pantry is usually the best place as they are dry and cool. Be careful, though. If the location is too dry or cold, it can also ruin your beans. Drying them out will cause the flavor to become very bitter. It will also affect the aroma.
- Containers: Coffee beans used to be shipped in burlap or jute bags, but the possibility of them becoming too humid or dry was very real. Storing your beans in an airtight jar or container is typically best, however, zip lock bags and other similar containers can work, also. There are those that recommend the freezer, but as we mentioned, some experts indicate that freezer burn will cause damage along with the drying effects of the coldness. There is also the possibility of condensation as they defrost which can cause mold. While the jury is out on whether freezing them is a good idea or not, we suggest if you are going to do so only freeze them for short periods, and separate them into portion-sized containers.
Finding the Right Green Beans
Keep in mind, there are a lot of variables at work regarding your aging beans. Some you can control (like the steps we went over above) and some you cannot.
For example, information on how long the beans were sitting before being shipped to their retail location is not always available. You may also not know how the beans were transported and stored which can make a difference in their shelf life, not to mention, the flavor and aroma.
- Too Dry: When looking at green beans, you want to find ones that are not too dry. Too dry indicates they may have sat for a time after being extracted from the coffee cherries. It may also show that they were shipped in burlap sacks, though the majority of coffee bean suppliers use the more efficient plastic liners nowadays.
- Too Soft: Beans that are too soft may have been exposed to high humidity levels. Even if mold is not an issue, green coffee beans that are too soft can lack a lot of flavor and boldness many people are looking for in their brew.
Also, be wary of green coffee bean sales. In the world of coffee distribution, the time in which coffee beans arrive makes a difference in how they are sold. For example, “new crop” is considered the freshest beans as they arrived the most recently. As soon as a new shipment is in, the “new crop” automatically becomes the “past crop”. Many distributors will place their “past crop” on sale.
You will typically not be able to tell how far apart the arrival dates are between the new and past crops. This is why it’s important to check your green coffee beans for signs of dryness that will clue you in to how long they have already been on the shelf.
Green coffee beans not only last longer than roasted coffee, but they also have advantages that the old-school brew does not have. As long as you keep them in a cool dry location, you will be able to enjoy this new java drink for quite some time. We hope this article has given you some handy info about green coffee, and how it could be beneficial to you.
Featured Image: Karaidel, Shutterstock