I recently read an article on chemistry of grinding coffee beans and it suggests stale coffee might be less healthy than freshly-roasted coffee, in terms of micronutrient and antioxidant loss over time after roasting.

The argument makes sense but I don't think there's been research specifically on the loss of antioxidants as coffee goes bad. I'm curious what you think... maybe we can use the "Wisdom of Crowds" to find the right answer.

  • 2
    I wouldn't think so. If it was, coffee purveyors would use it as an excuse to throw it out and buy fresh coffee more frequently. I worked as a coffee plant manager. There was no mention of the issue although it's been decades since I held the job.
    – Curt
    Dec 16, 2015 at 19:53
  • I really liked the article you linked... neat content on chemistry of roasting and the process in general. Hooray for science! Hope you don't mind my small edit for context. Welcome to Coffee.
    – hoc_age
    Dec 16, 2015 at 20:00
  • Thanks @hoc_age! I appreciate the edit. I'd love to see more research on the subject.
    – Ben Putano
    Dec 17, 2015 at 0:13
  • @Curt I am not sure I agree with the logic. If it was going to hurt their bottom line, I am fairly certain that businesses would gloss over the less healthy attribute. Similar to how large chains currently gloss over the prime range of freshness for roasted coffee. Dec 17, 2015 at 19:57
  • @Chris_in_AK, you may well be right. It's probably not goog to say bad things about your product
    – Curt
    Dec 18, 2015 at 4:02

1 Answer 1


Disclaimer: Lately, I was checking some unanswered questions. This one stands for a while. So, I decided to use the advantages of sitting in an academic office and sought the academic databases I can think of. Some of them are only accessible by abstract. However, I will try to copy the essence of them here without disturbing copyright rules of the publishers.

First things first, I tried to understand the effect of going stale to the amount of antioxidants in coffee. It seems not.

My first reference is "Antioxidant capacity, phenolic acids and caffeine contents of some commercial coffees available on the Romanian market." by Trandafir I., Nour V, and Ionica M.E. which you can read its abstract here. According to this article, total amount of antioxidants in a regular coffee sold in the market is changing in between 19.8 to 41.9 mg per gram coffee.

My second reference is "Recovery of Natural Antioxidants from Spent Coffee Grounds" by Alessia Panusa, Antonio Zuorro, Roberto Lavecchia, Giancarlo Marrosu, and Rita Petrucci which you can read its abstract here. According to this article, total amount of antioxidants in the remains of the spent espresso waste is changing in between 17.07 to 35.52 mg per gram coffee.

I conclude that, even after brewing (chemically speaking; extraction or leaching) the antioxidant amount is not changing much.

Then, I tried to understand what changes the antioxidant level in coffee, if there exist something. Yes, there is one; here comes the third reference by Ayelign and Sabally, "Determination of Chlorogenic Acids (CGA) in Coffee Beans using HPLC" which you can download a copy of it from here. In this study, it is shown that the level of CGAs (an antioxidant) is dropped from 46.144 mg to 0.981 mg per gram coffee, more the coffee is roasted.

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