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Partly driven by the third wave coffee movement, green coffee beans have become increasingly popular in recent years. These soft greenish beans allow for complete control over the roast all the way through to coffee brewing customization.
But, it’s not just coffee enthusiasts wanting to get their hands on green coffee beans, they’ve been making the headlines due to their health benefits too.
If you’re looking for some more information about green coffee or you have some unanswered questions, you’ve landed on the right page. We’ll cover topics on how long they stay fresh, shelf life, proper storage, plus some other details about these coffee beans you might not know.
What Are Green Coffee Beans?
All the coffee you drink comes from a fruit. Green beans are the raw seed from inside the coffee cherries, which have been extracted using different coffee processing methods depending on the coffee’s origin.
Some of the common approaches to processing are: washed, semi-washed, and naturally-processed. Each method of processing coffee ultimately contributes to the final brewed coffee taste.
Green coffee beans are at the natural stage prior to being roasted; they have had all of the surrounding flesh removed and have hardly any taste or aroma.
You might be able to pick out some grassy acidic notes but nothing that’s going to make you go back for more. If you try drinking green coffee in a blind taste test, you wouldn’t even realize that it’s coffee.
It’s during the roasting process that all of the hidden flavors locked inside of the beans are released and transforms this raw seed into the tasty coffee you all know and love.
During the roasting process, a chemical reaction occurs called the “Maillard reaction,” it’s this reaction that causes the natural sugars to caramelize and brings out the aroma, body, flavor, and acidity from each bean.
How Long Do Green Coffee Beans Stay Fresh
Green coffee is marketed by companies to last for years, but in reality, you should be roasting and then drinking those beans between 6 to 12 months. Keep them any longer than that, and they will start to expire and lose their overall quality, distinct flavors, and aromas.
When compared to roasted coffee beans, which have around six weeks of optimum freshness, and pre-ground coffee only a two-week window, raw green coffee beans last longer, under the right conditions.
Because green coffee is in a raw state, there are a lot of unseen variables that can affect the freshness before they reach you.
For example, information on how long they have been stored before being shipped and the coffee storage conditions are not always readily available. It’s these unknowns that can make a big difference in their shelf life.
This is why it’s essential to check your green coffee beans for signs of dryness, as this will give you a quick indicator as to how long they have been on the shelf.
Ideally, the green coffee should have a greenish hue, and it should be slightly glossy and a little soft.
How To Store Green Coffee Beans
Just like other perishable food items, raw green coffee beans will go bad if not stored correctly.
Green coffee beans can be stored in a similar fashion to regular roasted coffee.
One of the essential factors to storing green coffee for ultimate freshness is to keep them away from moisture, direct sunlight, high temperatures and always sealed in an airtight coffee canister, like one of these.
A note on coffee bean storage temperatures.
Ideally, it would be best to store the raw beans at temperatures around 60F at 60% humidity. Anything too far from these recommendations, and you potentially risk mold growing on your coffee, or it can start to lose its flavor and begin to dry out.
If you don’t plan on using your raw green coffee beans within a few months, it is possible to freeze them for long-term storage.
Just make sure you freeze the beans in small batches inside a sealed container and only take them out of the freezer as needed. Once removed and they thaw out, don’t refreeze them, as the cell structure will begin to break down.
Where To Buy Green Coffee Beans
With their rising popularity, green coffee beans can be found relatively easily at specialized organic grocery stores, online, and directly through your local coffee roaster.
Also, depending on where you live, you might score some good quality raw coffee beans from weekend farmers’ markets.
If you plan on roasting the coffee beans at home, we find that some of the most flavorful coffees come from Indonesia and Brazil; if you can manage to get green coffee beans from these regions, you’re in for a treat.
If you want to buy green coffee beans online and save yourself the hassle of finding some locally, this premium sampler pack is one of our personal favorites.
The pack contains four bags of 100% raw arabica coffee beans from popular growing regions such as Africa, Central America, South America, and more.
If you’ve gotten this far, you have learned that green coffee lasts longer than traditional roasted coffee and also has many other advantages.
For any coffee enthusiast buying a bag of green coffee beans at least once is a must. And armed with a cast-iron skillet, you can easily roast some great-tasting coffee at home and be the envy of your friends.
On the other hand, If you’re just looking to store coffee for a more extended period, raw green coffee beans are one of the best options, and as we’ve pointed out, if stored correctly, you can keep your coffee in a brewable fresh state for up to 12 months.
We think that once you give green coffee a try, you’ll be hooked!