When grocery shopping, coffee is usually found in the long-life milk and biscuits section. You won't be finding any beans in the fresh foods section of mainstream grocery stores, but should coffee be considered a long-life product?
Like most fresh produce, coffee products are highly susceptible to perishing. Coffee is best when kept as whole beans and then brewed between 1 and 4 weeks from the roasting date. After the four week period, the complexity in the tasting notes will then start to diminish and the coffee will become 'flat'. The sweetness and intentional balance of acidity and intensity won't be as intended by the roaster.
When it comes to coffee, fresh is best and there's nothing better than going down to your local farmer's markets to grab some fresh coffee beans along with your fresh vegetables for the week.
How to tell if coffee is out of date.
Coffee never spoils or becomes unsafe, it just loses its complex flavours over time. How can we tell if coffee is past its best before date? You should be able to find a roasting date on the packet, and from here it will depend on how the beans are stored. Oxygen and direct sunlight cause the coffee to go stale faster. So storing in a cool dark place in an airtight container is important.
Another sign of freshness is apparent when you make yourself a cup of coffee. Notice how much crema forms on top, if it's completely black this is a telltale sign that your coffee is stale.
*Further Reading: Check out this Espresso French Toast Recipe