Understanding Decaf Coffee Freshness - The Ultimate Guide and How long does it last?

by Brendon Bonacci

Understanding Decaf Coffee Freshness and How long it lasts - The Ultimate Guide

We all know the struggle: rubbing sleep from our eyes, fumbling in the early morning gloom to get the coffee machine going. Coffee has bean a magical elixir that helps us face the day, especially if you're like me and need a little extra nudge in the mornings. And for some of us, that old magical coffee routine has been substituted for our favorite Decaf Coffee Beans.

But wait, that cup of decaf doesn't taste quite as lively as it did a month ago. What's happening? Is our beloved decaf betraying us? The culprit, dear friends, is none other than our arch-nemesis: Oxidization.

Decaf coffee, similar to its caffeinated counterpart, has a freshness window. But, due to the unique decaffeination process, this window is slightly smaller. Let's put on our detective hats and explore the mysterious case of decaf’s freshness and how long decaf lasts.


Decaf's Secret Ingredient: Carbon Dioxide

Like a high school biology class flashback, CO2 reappears in our lives, not just in respiration but in our decaf coffee beans too! Roasting coffee creates a sizeable amount of CO2, half of which remains in the beans post-roasting, accounting for about 1% of their weight.

This CO2 escapes over time in a process called degassing, which begins the moment we take our beans out of the roaster and continues throughout their journey to your home. But what does this have to do with our morning cuppa?

Well, CO2 has a starring role in creating the wonderful flavors and the delightful aroma of coffee. When it interacts with the coffee's oils during brewing, it produces the crema - that heavenly layer of golden foam on a perfect espresso shot. Sadly, with each passing day, our beans lose some CO2, and with it, some of its gusto. So we need to do everything in our power to keep our precious decaf coffee beans away from Oxygen as much as possible, because CO2 is naturally trying to escape our beans and migrate towards Oxygen at any opportunity we give it. So it's our job to slow down that process to extend the life of our tasty decafs.


The Decaf Difference

You might be wondering, "why does decaf have a smaller freshness window?" The answer lies in its additional step: the decaffeination process. This extra stage stresses the beans' cell structure, making them more susceptible to CO2 escape.

As the beans are soaked at the decaffeination plants, they will expand, in this expansion the cell walls of the coffee are stretched and weakened. You might wonder why decaf is visible darker and sometimes oily, because of this damage to the cell walls, it make it considerably easier for the oil to escape the beans.

So, unlike regular coffee beans that can stay fresh up to 6 weeks, decaf beans experience a 20-25% reduction in their freshness timeline. But hey, we decaf lovers understand that good things often come with a little sacrifice!


Keeping Decaf at its Best

Okay, so our decaf beans can't stay fresh forever. How do we make the most of them while they're still full of flavor? Storage is key.

We made a conscious decision to pay extra for the packaging we use and all our bags have resealable zips and one way valves. No questions asked.

Remember, the enemies of coffee freshness are heat, light, and air. So keep your beans in a cool, dark place, sealed away from the prying hands (or molecules) of oxygen. Try not to expose your coffee to temperatures above 20℃, as this will cause the beans to swell and speed up the CO2 escape process.

Buying fresh and in small quantities can also help keep your coffee at its peak. Buying in bulk might save a few pennies, but those savings pale in comparison to the pleasure of a fresh, flavorful cup of decaf.

But we also see alot of our customer may buy a couple extra bags of decaf to save on shipping and we totally get it, shipping is a pain in the butt! It's the biggest cost in our business and Australia being such a large and vast country, our freight network is expensive and sometimes slow.

An awesome little trick is to freeze your spare decaf coffee beans until your ready to use them. Don't make the mistake of taking the beans in and out of the freezer as the condensation will build up, making the beans swell again, speed up CO2 migration and stale the beans even faster. So our advice of best practice is to portion out your decaf into weekly amounts.

For example if you bought a 1kg bag but only use 250g per week. Portion out 4 x 250g lots and freeze, take out the decaf for that week and consume. By the time you get to the last 250g batch you'll have a significantly better freshness when compared to just leaving the bag on the shelf!



Decaf coffee may have a shorter freshness window, but with a little bit of coffee science knowledge and some careful storage, we can keep our morning cups tasting great. And remember, even though it's decaf, it's still coffee – and every coffee deserves to be enjoyed at its freshest and finest.

And that's the scoop on decaf freshness! Now, go forth, brew, and enjoy your decaf knowing you're getting the best out of every bean.