Doing This Could Reveal Whether Or Not Your Coffee Is Stale

It's never been a better time to be a coffee lover as there is a seemingly endless array of choices at our fingertips. What's your preference? Espresso shots? Maybe a frozen caramel-flavored Starbucks Frappuccino? Or do you get a little weak in the knees for a cold brew on ice, or perhaps a classic latte, cappuccino, or Americano (hot or cold)? Take your pick, it's never been easier to get your "coffee fix," especially when on the run.

It's only when it comes time to start making coffee at home that things can get tricky. This requires planning, skill, and a bit of acquired knowledge to be able to brew the perfect cup of coffee. Suffice to say, it is often easier said than done when it comes to knowing how to get it right every time. It's more than just knowing what beans to buy, or whether to purchase them pre-ground or whole. A major component of a killer cup of coffee is fresh beans and the secret is knowing how to tell if your beans are stale or not.

How to tell if coffee beans are fresh

Globally, there are four main types of coffee beans on the market, and they are Arabica, Excelsa, Liberica, and Robusta (via Cafe Direct). But it does not matter what beans you buy as the process for telling if they are fresh is the same. According to Healthline, brewed coffee has a longer shelf-life than coffee that has been brewed, and it is best to adhere to the manufacturer's expiration date to enjoy it at its best. Whole beans on the other hand can last up to 3 weeks after they've been opened if kept in an airtight container, and up to a four months if properly stored in the freezer. It is always best to grind only what you plan to drink and do it as close to the time of brewing as possible with experts suggesting to use coffee within 30 minutes of grinding for best results (via Home Grounds).

One trick for telling if your beans are fresh is the plastic bag test. Get a handful of beans and place them in a ziplock then seal it and make sure all the air is pressed out. Let it sit overnight and check in the morning. If the bag is still flat, the beans are stale. Alternatively, if it is puffed up with air then you are good to go (via WonderHowTo). This is a quick and easy hack that is inexpensive and user-friendly.

Blooming your coffee

One of the best kept secrets for discerning the freshness of coffee is a process called "blooming." This trick works no matter what type of coffee bean you use or which brand you prefer. It's all about looking for the foamy bubbles that form when brewing. It has everything to do with the interaction between the hot water (H2O) and the release of carbon dioxide (CO2). As soon as the foamy bubbles or "bloom" appear, it's an indication of fresh coffee. No bloom and it's a surefire indication that the coffee is old or stale. This process works best with coffee that has been brewed with a French press or with the pour-over method (via Atlas Coffee Club).

Besides allowing one to determine the freshness of coffee, blooming is also associated with coffee actually tasting better. Serious Eats published an article where they claimed that participants in a blind test could tell the difference between coffee that was bloomed and coffee that was not. Participants asserted that bloomed coffee was richer and more flavorful while un-bloomed coffee was described as more acidic.