Green coffee beans long term storage

Green Coffee Beans Long Term Storage | Shelf Life | How-to Roast

Green coffee beans are best for long term storage (if you do it right). Note that green coffee beans have not been roasted yet (you have to do it yourself at some point). Because they haven’t been roasted, their natural oils are more stable. Therefore, green coffee beans can last for a very long time, and are best for long-term storage with proper packaging.

On the other hand, roasted coffee beans have a limited shelf life, and comparatively won’t retain their fresh flavor for too long (though I have a good tip below). The shelf life of ground coffee is even less – making both roasted coffee beans and ground coffee poor choices for long term storage.

So, what is the best coffee for long term storage? Green coffee beans (however, they will require roasting – more information below).

UPDATE: Since my original post, I realize that the roasting process might not appeal to everyone who seeks to store coffee for long term preparedness. Therefore, another excellent choice is freeze dried coffee (instant coffee). I’ll talk more about this in a minute…

Okay, I’m going to talk about green coffee beans, how-to store them for long term, coffee roasters, how-to roast coffee beans, the coffee grinder, and finally, freeze dried coffee for long term storage.

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. Roasted coffee beans won’t pass the test of time like green coffee beans will (long term storage).

Coffee beans grow on a coffee plant, a small tree-like shrub. 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.

Here’s a picture of coffee plants. You can see some of the red fruit.
Source: Primos Coffee Co.

Here’s a picture of coffee beans in their stage as small red fruit.
Source: Primos Coffee Co.

How-to Store Green Coffee Beans Long Term

So what’s the shelf life and how long do green coffee beans last?

Properly packaged green beans may subjectively retain their “freshness” for 20 years!

Think of it as you would any dried beans, you can do it yourself. Just like you might store other dry food goods in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers – in a 5-gallon bucket (for example). Or maybe instead of all in one big bag, you use smaller Mylar bags, which end up in a bucket (for protection) for long term storage.

I also recommend Gamma Seal Lids for easy access. I use them on all my storage buckets that I do-it-myself.

[ Read: Gamma Seal Lids – What They Are and Why You Want Them ]

For example, among the many sources for green coffee beans,

Unroasted Specialty Grade Nicaragua Arabica
(view on amzn)

1-gallon Mylar bags might be perfect for long term storing of dry goods such as coffee, spices, any dry grains, rice, beans, etc., in a portion that’s not overwhelming (compared to a 5-gallon size). I like the following, given their extra thick Mylar.

Mylar Bags 1 Gallon – Extra Thick 7.4 Mil – 10″x14″

Add a 300cc oxygen absorber, then push as much air out as you can before sealing. Even if the bags have a sealing strip (like the example above), run an iron over the top inch to give it a guaranteed seal.

You would use 300cc oxygen absorbers with a 1-gallon Mylar bag. Such as these, for example:

FreshUs 300cc

A Great Way To Store Ground Coffee or Beans For Extended Freshness

It’s called a Coffeevac, a unique airtight container that’s simple to use. It holds 1-pound of ground coffee or beans. I used to buy ground coffee, and these are perfect to extend freshness (or with beans prior to grinding).

Nowadays I only purchase coffee beans, and grind them myself just prior to brewing. I keep the bulk ‘working’ beans in a larger similar airtight container that holds 5-pounds. I also keep my dog’s ‘kibble’ in one of them too.

Coffeevac 1 lb

Tightvac 5 lb

Peering down into my Tightvac, can’t you almost just smell the delicious aroma of the roasted organic Sumatra coffee beans? Looks like I need to refill it soon!

Green Coffee Bean Roaster

There are several popular coffee bean roasters on the market. Some are very expensive, others in-between.

Being a preparedness site, I will first mention this one… because it’s inexpensive (only roasts a small amount at a time), and doesn’t require electricity. Just set on a stove top, or even over coals from a fire…

NUVO Ceramic Coffee Bean Roaster

The following coffee roaster seems to dominate popularity and reviews among those that are mid-priced.

Fresh Roast SR540

How-to Roast Green Coffee Beans

Coffee Roasters Handbook

Note: The roasting process will create some smoke! Especially if roasting at higher temperatures and/or roasting beyond “second crack” of the beans. So be prepared to ventilate! Use under a range hood that vents outdoors, or consider roasting your beans outside on the porch, etc..

Note: If roasting with other than a specialized coffee bean roaster, a fairly low temperature of approximately 275-F will get the job done. You may roast up to 500-F for shorter times and darker flavors however be aware of smoke…

Coffee Bean Roast To “First Crack”

After a few minutes of roasting, the green beans will turn a lighter green-yellow color.

The beans may start to steam as any moisture that may be inside is released.

Soon after that, you will hear the “first crack.” The cracking sound occurs as the real roasting begins.

The sugars in the beans start to caramelize, more moisture is released, and oils start to release as the structure of the bean breaks down.

After the first crack, you can stop roasting if you like very lightly roasted coffee. The beans are dark brown, but not very oily.

Note: The beans retain most of their caffeine at this stage of roast.

Coffee Bean Roast To “Second Crack”

As you continue to roast, the beans caramelize more, and more oils appear as the bean expands and the roast becomes darker.

Soon after, the “second crack” can be heard. Pieces (chaff) will be blown away from the bean. You may want to stop roasting at the first sign of the second crack unless you are going for a very dark roast.

During the second crack, the sugars will burn and smoke will be more pungent. The dark beans will take on a very oily appearance.

Note from an experienced roaster:

I can say with confidence that the earlier stages of coffee roasting smells more like cut grass than coffee; once it hits first crack it starts to smell a bit like coffee.

If you take it past second crack (the beans swell and pop, first a little, then later more, so second crack is louder than first crack) too far you get to french roast, or a waste of beans. At this point the thick white coffee-smelling smoke begins.

Coffee Bean Grinder

After the roasting process and cool down, and before you brew a delicious cup, you will need a coffee grinder to grind the beans.

Again, being a preparedness-oriented site, you might want to consider a manual grinder too…

Best Manual Coffee Bean Grinder:
JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder
(view on amzn)

I have gone through several cheap electric coffee grinders over the years. Never liked any of them for various reasons. About a year ago I finally purchased one that I’m very happy with! So much so, that I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a decent coffee grinder.

Mueller Ultra-Grind Conical Burr Grinder

Freeze Dried Coffee for Long Term Storage

Also know as Instant Coffee. Let me tell you something… freeze dried coffee can be pretty acceptably good! There’s some good tasting instant coffee.

Although you simply cannot beat roasted coffee beans freshly ground and brewed, Freeze Dried instant coffee is super quick and easy. Can taste pretty good. And will store well for a very long time in its unopened state.

How long will freeze dried instant coffee last? The answer is subjective. However, I will estimate 10+ years unopened and stored properly. Even opened instant coffee will last a long time, just not as long.

I do keep an inventory of some freeze dried coffee. I have experimented with a number of them, and I have settled upon a flavor and quality that I personally like. It’s actually espresso coffee. I semi-regularly have a small cup as a treat…

Medaglia D’Oro Espresso Style Instant Coffee

Anyway, there’s plenty of instant coffee choices out there. And it may be a good choice for you and your long term storage of coffee for preparedness!


  1. Coffee, something I haven’t put much thought into. I’ll reconsider it.
    Thanks Ken

    1. I’ve drank instant coffee That had been stored for 5 years and it was fine.

      1. Yes, instant coffee (freeze dried) is another pretty good way (in addition to green coffee beans) to store coffee long term for preparedness. I’ve got a stash of instant coffee, and dip into it once in awhile – for good rotation practices :=)

  2. Being a coffee person this is something that I have thought about but not done anything about. Something about home roasting makes me think it could turn out bad.

  3. I have packed roasted beans the usual, oxy absorber, vacuum pack style and they keep ok, honestly we go through so much coffee anyway that rotating it isnt a problem, plus my theory is that if TSHTF im not going to be worried if my coffee isnt perfect,,,,,, know what i mean, so if i buy coffee by the 5# bag and store it away and dont use it for a couple years it is still ok.
    For myself part of the balance of prepping is getting enough for most SHTF events to not matter, but not so much that it will never get used, tough balance

  4. Thanks for this article. Because of some comments that I have read in the past, I have been wanting to research green coffee beans. I am excited to get some green coffee beans and practice roasting my own!

    As a coffee drinker, I have been adding FD instant espresso to my storage. This is an item I use regularly in baking (mocha frosting, chocolate espresso creme brulee, etc). It’s also my go to for backpacking and river trips, so it makes sense to have plenty in storage that I can rotate through. My favorite brand is Medaglia d’Oro. It makes an excellent cup of coffee!

      1. Definitely give it a try, and let me know what you think of it. If there is ever a TEOTWAWKI scenario, I think that this will be a great item for trade. Until then, I will just enjoy it. Sometimes when the pot of coffee is finished in the morning and I want just one more cup, I will make a cup with the instant. I think it’s just as good as my regular drip made from freshly ground beans. It also works really well for for iced coffee on those hot summer days, and is the “secret” to my BBQ sauce. 😉

        1. I almost never use recipes when cooking (baking is another story), so I can’t really share one. I’m more of a “add some of this and some of that, taste it, add some more” kind of guy.

          But for BBQ sauce I take ketchup and add a splash of
          soy sauce,
          mustard powder,
          Worcestershire sauce,
          onion puree,
          and coffee.

        2. Ken, I commonly add coffee grounds to my brisket rub. Adds an amazing flavor to a smoked brisket.

    1. Skibum
      Thank you for an alternative to canned ground coffee.

        1. Great cooking tips here!
          My girlfriend thinks I’m crazy for putting coffee in my hot wing sauce.
          (Stumbled upon this forum looking for info on green coffee beans.)

        2. Often your local roaster coffee shop (specialty?) Will let u buy for about half price
          … strike up a conversation with them… maybe find an old (unused?) roaster at a thrift shop that was gifted to someone 20 years ago!

  5. Have been roasting my own coffee for a while now. I do it very simply in a cast iron skillet. Very easy and the taste is unlike any other. I do it in a very hot skillet and stir continually til it is as dark as I like. Then dump into a colander and shake the chaff away. I have also tried a hot air popcorn popper and it also does a good job. It turns out a little more even roast. I like a darker roast and it has less caffeine which is good for me. Grind it and finish it off in a french press and it’s wonderful. I have read that the best way to store green beans is in a burlap sack.

    1. Everything Veggies says is 100% accurate!

      We have been storing and roasting our coffee for over 10 years now and just keep it in the burlap sack it comes in. The one time I did store them in mylar in a bucket, they got mold. Just keep them dry in the back of a closet and they will be fine, basically forever.

      We also roast in a cast iron skillet and it works just fine.

      This is a win-win situation for a prepper. Fresh roasted coffee tastes better and buying green beans in a 50# sack is FAR cheaper than anything you can get at grocery store.

      1. Thanks for this comment. I have this same concern as I have purchased great quantities of green coffee beans to roast myself. I now need to go abroad, possibly for a few years! And there is simply no way I can begin to roast and use all my green beans by then. Most websites say green coffee beans only hade a one year shelf life. Some say after that the coffee you roast with them starts to taste like paper! Is this true? You say coffee beans properly stored will last forever – that’s what I’m hoping. But the question is will coffee made with them still taste good?

  6. also note that I did not treat any headaches with aspirin. I wanted to experience the full withdrawal symptoms

  7. Another Solution: Costco Sells their ground coffee in #10 cans with a 1.5-2 year best by date on it. You can purchase a 1 year supply and rotate it out. every month.

  8. We always brought whole beans and ground our own. Figured it couldn’t be to hard to roast green beans and it wasn’t, except for the smoke and chafe. First tried the cast iron skillet method and had a hard time getting an even roast. Than tried my hot air gun and that worked better. Finally went to the local thrift store and found a used popcorn popper for 5 dollars which works the best of all but look for the 1500 watt models. What a difference in using fresh roasted coffee for that morning cup of joe.

  9. Have put up some freeze dry coffee in original containers put in Food Saver bags with the air sucked out. I’m hoping that works as I’m little cranky in the morning without my coffee and some time in the small reading room. I have had foil packets of instant coffee from WWII when I was younger in the field. Was it wonderful? No. Was it hot and made you not think about the suck you were in? Yes
    When I run out of Black Rifle Coffee during SHTF it’s not going to be pretty.

  10. Coffee which is ground then packaged in a metal can holds the flavor, even coffee packaged with cardboard membrane holds the flavor.
    We will soon know how the plastic held the flavor, found a container of Yuban it was marked 2012, it was misplaced during the rotation.

    Food products contained in plastic breakdown(mho)faster than in a metal container. IF it is salvageable we will place in 1/2 gallon canning jars with oxygen absorbent until we can use it up.
    After we open it up will let MSB know what condition it was in, and if we saved it or tossed it out.

    1. A couple of months ago I found several cans of Kroger coffee(ground) that I had stored and forgot. The coffee was dated 2011. I opened the first can and it still smelled like fresh coffee. I used all of the Kroger coffee and it tasted okay. Not as good as Community Coffee but still good enough to drink. Bottom line, I think canned coffee will store a lot longer than most of us believe.

      1. MS Farmer

        was your stored coffee cans actually “cans”?

        I have found that newish coffee cans are some sort of foil/cardboard mix, and I am thinking they will not keep as well?

        1. Ive had the same results with canned Kirkland brand coffee from Costco,,was over 5 years past the date on the can and was fine, it aint ambrosia,,, its java to crank your morning up

      2. Same for vacuum packed bags, as long as they are still in bricks and hard..will be good…

  11. I have used freeze dried coffee for 20 years, although I love my fresh robust brewed coffee.

  12. Coffee, nor on my list, even for Barter.

    I did have a Brew a couple of times that was a ‘Coffee Beer’ why someone would ruin good Beer with Coffee I have no idea… HAHAHA

    I will admit I do have a Chappuccino from time to time and store that, and have absolutely no problems storing it in the original packaging for years on end.


  13. Mmmmmmmm… Coffee! My #1 favorite adult beverage!
    I’ve been buying green and roasting for seven years.

    People have been roasting coffee for EONS.
    No fear when it comes to roasting.
    You can even roast on a cast iron pan over a camp fire.
    No sugar needed. No cream needed. The freshest of fresh coffee.

    I store mine at room temp.

    I buy from Central and South America.
    50 pounds at a clip.
    The altitudes of said areas makes a difference in the flavor, as well as the type of dirt the little coffee plants live in.

    I can’t afford to import coffee from anywhere but south of the Good Ole USA

    Try a pound or five pounds before you go all out buying in bulk.

    1. In your experience how long do green beans last and preserve good flavor? Most websites say they are only for 6 mos to one year. If you’re buying 50 lb bags I imagine those could take wrote awhile to use up..would probably last me a few years!

  14. @ Eli Wag, we have all been trying to cut back in this house. Have been trying to get away from coffee all together for health reasons. I have been stuck at one cup a day forever it seems. DH and DS have skipped many days with no coffee. So we have been letting our supply dwindle a bit.

    I’m afraid that if I get green coffee beans, our intake will greatly increase which is what we are trying to avoid.

  15. Peter
    We do not store coffee beans. It appears your “air” tight container was not that air tight. Mold should not occur in an oxygen free environment.
    Personally I would toss those FUZZY beans, and consider it a lesson learned for future needs. Someone in the group may have experienced the same thing, and can advise you better than myself

  16. Peter:
    I’m with AC on this. Don’t take a chance on spoilage. As an aside, I’ve always stored my green coffee beans, like everything else, in vacuum sealed bags, no oxygen absorbers, and they last for years, at least.

  17. What about a vacuum sealed container with oxygen absorbing packs?

    Thanks mark

    1. Mark
      That should work on your green coffee beans. Make sure they are in a container that lets no light into the food product. Also stored in an area where it will not freeze or go above 70 degrees in the summer, if possible.

  18. Umm…NO!!!
    Think this through folks. NOT a good idea. Unless you live way away from civilization the smell of roasting coffee beans is going to attract everyone who has not had a coffee fix for say 3 or 4 weeks to your location and will cause violent encounters. A seriously dumb thing to do…

    1. Relax, not all preparedness is about Armageddon or the Zombie Apocalypse. Additionally, here’s a test for ya… Brew some coffee in your house. Then go outside. Tell me if you can smell the coffee out there… I suppose it your windows are open it will make some difference if you’re up close.

  19. – I love the Black Rifle “Just Black” whole beans in the coffee maker. Having said that, I have 20+ year packets of Taster’s Choice that is still quite acceptable. I used to measure coffee drunk by the Pot; nowadays, I try to limit myself to just one, maybe two cups per day. Doc is much happier with that.

    – Papa S.

  20. Thanks for the article Ken! I have always been an instant coffee drinker but I may just give this a try.

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