Do Coffee Beans Lose Caffeine Over Time?

can of coffee beans

QUESTION: – Do coffee beans lose caffeine over time? I have this kind of old can of coffee and I sure don’t want to bother drinking it if it doesn’t even have caffeine anymore. – Garrett P. 

ANSWER: – Yes, coffee beans lose caffeine over time, and they can deteriorate very quickly if not stored properly as well. Freshness is synonymous with greatness. Fresh baked bread, freshly picked fruit, and freshly roasted coffee beans are all excellent examples of how the freshness of a product also affects its taste. 

Baked goods are far superior when they are just out of the oven and still just a little bit warm. As they sit around, they lose their puffiness, texture, and over time, lots of flavor goes away too. If you leave them out too long, they will go bad and will eventually mold and decompose. 

Fruit is typically at it’s best when it has ripened on the vine, and is harvested at peak ripeness. There is nothing like the taste of freshly picked fruit. Produce that you buy at the grocery store can never be as fresh as it is when you get it out of your garden, as it has to travel from where it was grown to the store where you live. A lot of time passes before the produce you buy actually arrives at your local grocer. 

Coffee beans also have an expiration date, and they are at their peak freshness just after the roasting process. That’s why many high quality coffee roasters don’t roast their beans until you place an order, so that they can guarantee you are receiving the freshest possible product. Once you receive your coffee, it should have a decent shelf life, but once you open the bag, the beans immediately begin to oxidize. So after you grind up what you need, you should store your beans in an airtight container, or a vacuum sealed bag if you have a sealer, and keep it in a cool, dry, dark location until you need to use it again. 

The freshness of your coffee beans is of major importance. If you have been drinking Folgers or Maxwell House ground coffee for the entirety of your life, the first taste of freshly roasted and freshly ground coffee beans will blow your mind. The immensity of the difference in flavor and aroma cannot be described in words that could possibly hold up their end of the bargain. Imagine going from only watching black and white silent films for your entire life and then, all of a sudden, being thrust into the modern cinematic universe, complete with CGI, flying cameras, and surround sound. Fresh coffee beans that were just roasted and then ground just before brewing is a game changer. Coffee will never be the same. 

The key to the best possible cup of coffee is to get the freshest possible coffee beans that you can find. If you get your coffee beans just after they are roasted and grind the beans yourself in a burr grinder (just enough for what you are about to brew), you can experience coffee at its peak flavor and aroma, and there is nothing quite like it. 

First and foremost, you need to invest in a grinder. If you get a burr grinder, you may have to pay a little bit more, but it is essential for great tasting coffee. Burr grinders don’t chop the coffee beans apart like a bladed grinder does, which causes too much heat and friction, effectively roasting your coffee a second time, and scorching the grinds in the process. Burr grinders crush the beans instead of slicing them, which causes less friction, and keeps the integrity of the roast. 

Having a grinder is essential, as pre-ground coffee is never fresh enough. Even if it’s ground freshly after roasting and packaged correctly, pre-ground coffee never tastes fresh. To cut out the middle man, get your own grinder and purchase freshly roasted whole beans. 

To get to experience a good variety of the best coffee beans in the world, try out different small batch, single origin, organic coffees from around the world. When looking around for good roasting companies, look out for those who wait to roast their beans until you place an order, so you can count on optimal freshness. 

Once you crack open a bag of coffee beans, the countdown of deterioration begins. Most coffee beans are sealed in a vacuum sealed package to preserve freshness. Once the seal is broken, oxidation begins. So after you grind up what you need for your pot of coffee, you need to store the beans in an airtight container to preserve their freshness. Still, the clock is ticking on these coffee beans, and you should use up what you have in the shortest time possible to get the freshest coffee out of the beans you have. 

Typically, whole beans should be used within two weeks of opening the package. Ground coffee deteriorates at an even quicker pace. Once you have ground your beans, they should be used in three to five days before they will begin to lose flavor. 

As coffee beans begin to deteriorate, they lose some of their caffeine content as well. Does that mean that really old coffee beans are basically decaffeinated? No, the coffee beans that you forgot to store in an airtight container will still have some caffeine in them, but trust us, you should just toss those out the second you find them. Old coffee beans that were not stored properly will still contain some caffeine, but not enough to justify the taste of trying to drink stale old beans. As stated above, the key to good coffee is freshness, and once you’ve had fresh coffee, it’s very hard to compromise. 

Learn More About Coffee and Caffeine

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