Green Coffee Beans Long Term Storage | Shelf Life | How to Store

Green coffee beans are best for long term storage.

Roasted coffee beans have a limited shelf-life and comparatively won’t retain their fresh flavor for too long. 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.

Here’s more about it (they’ll need to be roasted), what you will need, and how to do it:


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 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.

Green Coffee Bean Roaster

There are several popular coffee bean roasters on the market. Some are very expensive, though popular, like this one on amzn, Behmor Customizable Drum Coffee Roaster.

Another popular roaster (less expensive) is (this one on amzn).

Even less expensive while still quite popular is the NUVO Ceramic Coffee Bean Roaster. Simply put on a stove top.

How To Roast Green Coffee Beans

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 water 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 water 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, you will need a coffee grinder to grind the beans.

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

Top-of-the-line Electric Coffee Bean Grinder:
Breville | The Smart Grinder Pro

Best Value Electric Coffee Grinder:
Bodum Bistro Burr

A Best Way To Store Ground Coffee For Freshness

If you’re grinding your roasted coffee beans and want to make “a batch”, you might consider storing the ground coffee in one of these self-sealing containers.

I have been storing my ground coffee in the following container which holds 1 pound of coffee (they make 5-lb size too),

CoffeeVac | Vacuum Sealed Coffee Container

How To Store Green Coffee Beans Long Term

So what’s the shelf life and how long will they last?

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

I also recommend storing them in a 5-gallon bucket with a Gamma Lid for easy access. I wrote about those lids (here).

Unroasted Green Coffee Beans
(view on amzn)

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  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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. 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.)

  4. I Love COFFEEEE!!! As part of my prepping last week I stopped drinking coffee all together to see what the effects would be on my physical and mental state. I am already nuts according to the wife ;)

    The first day I had no real side effects maybe just slighty sleepy through out the day.

    Day Two I developed a minor headache that went on and off all day. I started to become more irritable.

    Day 3 the headache went to medium and went on and off all day and my irritability was the same although it could be that it is busy season for me at work and I had to deal with my guys doing stupid things all week long :|

    Day 4 & 5 I woke up no headache at all and maybe just a little sleepy through out the day. After Day 5 I cleared myself as having no more withdrawal symptoms.

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

  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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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…

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

  11. 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.


  12. 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.

  13. VERY INTERESTING – Coffee is the #1 drink in America and so few comments. I’m not sure what to take away from this.
    On a side note I’ve put sealed cans in the freezer for 18 months and still had some great tasting coffee.

    1. @ 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.

  14. My green coffee beans have been stored in an airtight container however have developed a yellow fury type mould on them Are they still ok to roast. I have roasted two batches and they appear to be normal. Any thoughts on the yellow mould and has it and are my beans still ok to brew.

    1. 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

    2. 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.

    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.

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