How Long Does Coffee Last? Tips To Keep Them Fresh Longer

Coffee is the most loved beverage in the world.  It’s consumed by over 1 million people per day.  Some people buy coffee drinks that are ready-made, while others prefer to buy coffee and make it at home themselves.  If you’re one of those who buy coffee to make at home, you’re probably wondering how long they can be kept for best taste.

How long does coffee last? It depends on different factors such as the quality of the coffee beans, how it’s stored, and where it’s stored.  Instant coffee is best to use within 18 months after opening the package. Coffee beans remain at best quality within 6 months of opening the package. Ground coffee’s quality remains best for 3 months after opening the package.

While coffee will last forever, the taste is what doesn’t last forever.  Over time, it will simply lose its quality and therefore taste, over time.

Coffee Shelf Life

 PantryRefrigeratorFreezer
Ground Coffee3 Months Once Open
12 Months Unopened
Not Recommended1 Month
Instant Coffee3 Months Once Open
18 Months Unopened
1 Month1 Year
Whole Coffee Beans6 Months Once Open
12 Months Unopened
Not Recommended1 Month

How Long Does Coffee Last?

Most coffee can last for a long time and be safe to drink.  As long as air doesn’t get into the package, it’s still good coffee.  However, over time as the coffee sits whether it’s in a canister or a package, the quality of the beans will decrease.  This decrease in quality can make the coffee taste stale and flavorless.

Below are the three kinds of coffee that are found in most stores and popular to prepare coffee at home.

Instant Coffee

Instant coffee is the easiest coffee to make. Just add hot water and you got yourself a cup of coffee. Since this kind of coffee has already been brewed and crystallized, air doesn’t affect it much. For that reason, it usually lasts for a very long time.

Instant coffee can last for years if nothing gets inside of the package or the container.  It will be safe to brew, but the quality might not be so great.

For instant coffee, once the package is opened, it’s best to use it in about 18 months. This is for the best-tasting quality. After 18 months, if the package hasn’t still been opened, the quality will start to decrease. Therefore, you shouldn’t expect it to take as good as newly bought instant coffee.

Whole Bean Coffee

Coffee beans will remain at the best quality for up to 1 year.  Once the package is opened, it’s recommended to use them within 6 months.

If you want the coffee beans to last a long time and still taste good, it’s best to buy from a local coffee shop or a place that can roast the beans and package it right away.  Another option is to buy a coffee roaster and roast the coffee beans at home.

Most coffee beans bought in grocery stores and supermarkets will usually not be of high quality.  This is due to the processing by the manufacturer.   To save costs, the manufacturer will most likely mass-produce them.  During the process, the time between when it is roasted and packaged can be a couple of minutes to even an hour.  The longer the time to get them packaged, the more the coffee beans will get exposed to the air.  Therefore, this will result in a lower quality of coffee beans.

Coffee beans that are over a year are still safe to brew coffee, but the quality will not be good.

Ground Coffee

When it comes to ground coffee, these kinds have the shortest shelf life. This is due to the coffee beans being grounded and exposed to the air. Exposure to the air, even for a couple of minutes can shorten their shelf life.

Once the package of the ground coffee has been opened, it should be used within 3 months. However, depending on how much time the package is opened, it may remain at the best quality for up to 6 months.

For an unopened package of ground coffee, it should be good for up to a year. After that time, the coffee won’t spoil or go bad, but the quality will be lower. It will probably taste bland, but you should brew a cup to see if it still tastes good.

How To Store Coffee?

Most people who brew their own coffee at home will likely buy coffee in bulk and keep a good week or even a month supplies of coffee.

No matter if it’s coffee beans, grounded coffee or even instant coffee, how you store the coffee is very important to keep them at their best quality.

Depending on how long you want to keep coffee fresh, you will need to transfer it to a cool and dry place.  This could be the pantry, cupboard or even the freezer.

Below are the two different places to store coffee:

Storing Coffee In The Pantry

The best way to keep all types of coffee fresh is to store them in the pantry.  Storing them in the pantry is the most commonplace for most people.  The pantry offers a cool and dark place for the coffee to be stored.  If you’re looking

Also, they should be kept in an opaque airtight container to avoid moisture from entering.  If you have a large amount of coffee that you bought, it’s best to divide them into smaller portions and put them in a couple of different containers.   Every time you open the container, moisture will get into the coffee.  By opening and closing it every day, the quality of the coffee will decrease slowly each day.

Storing Coffee In A Freezer

It’s never a good idea to freeze coffee that you use every day.  The fluctuating temperature creates moisture in the packet when it’s constantly opened and closed. The result will leave your morning cup of coffee tasting stale.

However, freezing coffee is fine if you’re planning to store coffee there for a long time.

It’s fine to freeze whole beans for up to a month or so, provided you’re not taking them out during that period. If you have a large number of coffee beans, it’s best to divide them into smaller portions and freeze them in an airtight bag.

When the coffee beans are ready to be used, remove them from the freezer and leave them on the countertop to thaw. Once thawed, you can grind and brew them right away or keep it for later. If it’s used within two weeks, the coffee will be good to the last drop.

Why Not To Store Coffee In The Refrigerator

For coffee, storing them in the refrigerator is a bad idea, except for instant coffee.  Instant coffee has been extracted and crystallized already so it can’t absorb moisture.

Coffee beans, whether it’s whole beans or grounded beans are usually roasted before you purchase them. When it’s roasted, the coffee beans tend to lose some moisture and start to create sugar through caramelization.  Therefore, they are ready and willing to absorb and available water since they are low on moisture after being roasted.

In the refrigerator, there is a lot of moisture and when both whole beans and ground coffee are put in there, they will readily absorb the moisture.  Also, coffee tends to absorb odors from other foods as well.   When it’s in the fridge, it acts much like a box of baking soda that most people keep in the fridge to help absorb odors.

When you’re ready to brew coffee, the process of making coffee has already started in the refrigerator when it’s in there. Therefore, coffee from the refrigerator will be stale since it’s been partially brewed already.

How To Tell If Coffee Is Bad?

The coffee doesn’t really go bad, only the quality of the coffee drops.  If you love to drink coffee, quality means a lot. Depending on the kind of coffee you stored and how long it’s been stored, the general rules are all the same.

To check if the coffee is bad, you’ll need to look at the coffee content in the container. Things to look for are discolorations, mold, and moisture.

Most importantly of all is to sniff the coffee content. If it has off smell to it, it’s best to throw it out. If the smell is fine, you can proceed to brew them.

Once you brew a cup of coffee, take a sip to see if the taste is bland.  If so, toss it away.

When Does Coffee Start Getting Stale?

Like every other food, coffee beans don’t stay in perfect condition forever. Due to oxidation, they will lose the freshness over time. This is the same process that causes rust on metals.

When coffee is exposed to the air, the compounds within the coffee beans interact with oxygen molecules in the air, which results in flavor loss.  Depending on how much the coffee is exposed to the air, it will either lose it’s flavor slowly or quickly over time.

For most people, the ‘stale’ taste will become noticeable at about 30 days.  For more experienced coffee drinkers, the stale taste will be around 10-15 days.  All of this will depend on the coffee beans and what process it when through.

How Can I Keep Coffee Fresh Longer?

Who doesn’t love fresh tasting coffee?  The biggest enemy that can spoil any coffee freshness is air!

To keep them fresh longer,  you should avoid the coffee beans and air from interacting with each other.  You may notice that all coffee once packaged is vacuum-sealed.  This sucks out any air from the package.

If you’re looking to keep your coffee fresh for a long time, it’s best to buy whole coffee beans that have just been roasted.  Coffee beans that have been crushed or grounded are already exposed to air.  The air will already make them stale during the process.  Once it’s packaged and bought, it has already lost some of its freshness.

You also need to keep the coffee beans cool, dry and away from exposure to any sunlight. This can be done by putting the coffee in a mason jar or a vacuum locked bag.

Once you’re ready to drink coffee, crush or grind them and start the brewing process. Also, never leave the ground coffee exposed to the air for no more than 10-20 minutes. If you do, the coffee will start to become stale due to oxidation.

As long as you keep coffee beans and air away from each other, you can keep coffee fresh for a longer period of time.

Conclusion

When it comes to the shelf life of the coffee, it can last for a very long time.  The only thing that doesn’t last long is the quality of the coffee.  Not preparing them correctly for storage or storing them the wrong way could shorten the quality quickly.  By reading this short guide, you should have some insight into what causes coffee to not last long and what you can do to prevent it from happening.

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