What the date of the roasted coffee beans tell about your coffee

crema layer

You read it everywhere, fresh coffee or freshly roasted coffee beans. Almost every micro-roasting company uses this as its USP, and rightly so. Because freshly roasted coffee beans taste very different from coffee beans that have been roasted a few months ago.

But how do you know if your coffee beans are fresh and when they have been roasted? In the supermarket this is sometimes a bit of a search.

Because this is required by law, there is always a best before date on the bags of coffee beans, but often not when they are roasted. Missed opportunity, because now you don't know how fresh your coffee is.

Why this is important? Coffee beans only stay really fresh for a certain period of time and therefore also the tastiest. But how long then?

No worries, I'll explain all this to you below. But I'll start with the roast date and what this says about your coffee.

What is a burn date

The roasting date of coffee beans indicates on which date the coffee beans were roasted. Actually exactly the same as a production date, which you can sometimes find on certain articles.

Now I hear you thinking… “My bag of coffee says I can keep it for up to two years, why do I need to know the roast date”.

Okay, very honest, coffee doesn't spoil if you store it properly, so somehow the brands that claim this are right. But you can compare it with, for example, a loaf of bread that you buy. This is sometimes good for a week, but your bread won't get any tastier at the end of this week.

This is exactly the same with coffee. After roasting the coffee beans, they remain fresh for a limited period of time and are therefore the tastiest.

Next time, think carefully about that kilo banger offer where you immediately buy coffee beans for the whole year. Side note: these offers are ethically totally irresponsible by the way, but we'll talk about that another time ;-).

How long does coffee stay fresh?

Somehow this depends on the type of coffee bean and the degree to which this coffee has been roasted. For example , light roast coffees stay tasty and fresh longer than dark roast coffees.

But for the simplicity of this article, I'm just going to give you an average. We always recommend drinking the coffee beans within six to eight weeks after roasting.

This is the peak period when the coffee is the tastiest. Is the coffee no longer good after that?  Not that, because as I indicated, coffee beans do not spoil and you can store them for a super long time.

Learn more about how to store coffee beans here.

So if you spend a little more time, attention and money on well-considered specialty coffee , I definitely recommend that you also drink the coffee during this period of six to eight weeks.

Then you really get everything out of your coffee, which was probably the reason to start drinking specialty coffee in the first place.

Does fresher always mean better?

This question can be interpreted in two ways. On the one hand yes, fresh is always better. Drink your coffee especially during the peak period to enjoy it to the fullest. But on the other hand, there is such a thing as too fresh coffee.

Due to the roasting process that the coffee beans undergo, a lot of CO2 is built up in the coffee beans. In order to make a good, balanced coffee, this CO2 must be removed from the coffee beans.

This process is also called degassing and is most active in the first 48 hours after burning. After this period, your coffee beans have settled and you can enjoy your coffee. Exactly how long this process takes depends entirely on the type of coffee bean and the type of roasting.

But for the simplicity and comprehensibility of this article, I have again assumed an average here.

How do you know if your coffee beans are old?

When coffee beans start to get really old, you will see more and more oil forming on the coffee beans. This oil becomes rancid and therefore greatly reduces the quality of your coffee.

Moreover, this is not at all good for your coffee machine and your health. So if you see very oily coffee beans, think twice.

In addition, you can see very well from the crema layer of your coffee whether it is still at its peak freshness. A beautiful hazelnut-colored crema layer that is quite thick indicates that the coffee is super fresh.

If your crema lag is very light in color or very thin, this may mean that your coffee is no longer fresh. A small side note, a thin, light crema layer can also be caused by incorrectly brewing your coffee. This is called under extraction.

Read here how to make the perfect espresso , with a nice crema .

So a waste of that old coffee. But don't worry in this nice article you can read everything you can do with old coffee beans.


The roast date of coffee says everything about the freshness of your coffee beans and when they are best. Six to eight weeks after roasting is the sweet spot for most specialty coffees.

So when you start stocking up on coffee beans again, think carefully about how much you can use during this period to enjoy it to the fullest.