How Long Does Coffee Last: Interesting Facts! (Winter 2023)

We dived deep into various sources to make this article as resourceful as possible, to this end, it will give you remarkable insights on how to make your coffee last long in terms of shelf life and how to store it properly to maintain its freshness.
By
Samanta Fryer
Samanta Fryer
Writer
Samanta Fryer is our senior editor and content writer, at CoffeeVibe. Apart from writing and reading, she’s fond of the coffee brewing process and enjoys tasting new coffe read more
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Ryan Hendricks
Ryan Hendricks
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Ryan Hendricks is our tester, who puts products through their paces. He used to be a barista and is now a full-time coffee enthusiast. He’s always testing out new gadgets, read more
Last updated: January 02, 2023
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So, you just bought a brand-new bag of coffee beans and didn’t know how long it would last? Lucky for you, we’ve got an easy guide to help you preserve its freshness! First things first: You should know that most foodstuffs have an expiration date, and coffee is no exception. As with most other perishable goods, several factors determine how long your coffee will continue to be safe to drink. Once you know how long your coffee lasts, in theory, you can tailor your storage practices to maximize freshness and prevent waste. This write-up will tell you how long coffee lasts and what you can do to ensure that your coffee stays fresh for as long as possible.

How long does coffee stay fresh?

The answer: Long enough to get it from the roaster to the customer. But let’s back up a little bit. Coffee is served in various forms and flavors, from the simple black brew to iced coffees with exotic flavors. Whether you drink it black or with cream and sugar at home or at your favorite café, each cup begins its journey toward you in the same way: as a single seed of roasted coffee. Its freshness is affected by how you store it and its form.

What’s the coffee shelf life?

It depends. To begin answering this question, you need to know that there are different kinds of coffee, and each one has a different shelf life. You can have ground coffee, beans, or even dried coffee. You also have to consider the packaging you have used to store it. The size of the container can also influence shelf life.

Whole beans

How Long Does Coffee Last: Interesting Facts! (Winter 2023)Let’s talk about whole beans first. Whole beans can last for up to two weeks at room temperature, so you’ll often see them used in grocery stores and cafes. There’s a more significant risk of the coffee losing flavor or aroma before its time. The longer it sits around, the staler it will get, but you can still drink it.

Ground coffee

How Long Does Coffee Last: Interesting Facts! (Winter 2023)Ground coffee is a very perishable product, and the shelf life of ground coffee is only two weeks once opened up. However, when enclosed, it will stay fresh until its best before date. If stored in the pantry, it should retain its taste beyond three months after the expiration date. Those put in a freezer could go up to two years past the best before date.

Brewed coffee

How Long Does Coffee Last: Interesting Facts! (Winter 2023)For the uninitiated, “brewed coffee” refers to freshly made coffee in a coffee maker. It doesn’t have milk or sugar added to it, and it typically isn’t available from coffee shops like Starbucks. The shelf life of brewed coffee is only 4 hours. If it has milk in it, you should consume it within hours. The coffee itself is likely to be okay for 4 hours after being brewed, but the milk may not be good after those four hours.

Instant coffee

How Long Does Coffee Last: Interesting Facts! (Winter 2023)If you’ve ever been in the mood for a quick cup of joe, you’ve probably reached for the instant packets. It’s easy to do—add hot water, stir, and enjoy. And that’s it! Once you have opened the seal, consume it within two weeks.

What makes coffee go bad?

So, you’ve found yourself with a carton of coffee that tastes a little, well, off. You’re probably wondering: “What the heck is going on here? Why does my coffee taste like musty feet?” Well, that’s the downside of this popular drink in the world. Coffee can quickly break down and lose its flavor. And while there are lots of things that can make your coffee go bad (including the presence of mold or bacteria), here are the most common ones.

Oxygen

Oxygen molecules are tiny, and they can seep into parts of coffee beans exposed to air. Oxygen starts breaking apart the other compounds there. This process is called oxidation, and it leads to a whole host of bad things: rancid flavors, staleness, and even mold growth. Once those compounds start breaking down, there’s no way to get them back.

Light

Light itself isn’t bad for coffee; it’s the ultraviolet rays from sunlight that cause degradation in coffee quality. Certain chemicals are produced when the coffee is exposed to UV rays. Once the coffee has been roasted, those same UV rays cause it to develop a stale flavor and lose its aroma.

Moisture

As the beans absorb moisture from the air, the oils that give coffee its flavor are released. They begin to oxidize, turning rancid and foul-smelling over time. That’s why it’s best to keep your beans in an airtight container like the Coffee Gator Coffee Canister. This 6-inch container holds your beans from any moisture that will destroy their flavor.

Heat

That’s right—the hotter your coffee is, the faster it goes stale. Coffee beans are sensitive to heat. If you expose them to little hot temperatures, their composition will change.

How to store coffee beans properly?

How Long Does Coffee Last: Interesting Facts! (Winter 2023)Do you know that fresh, delicious flavor you get from really great coffee? That’s just the tip of the iceberg. The real magic happens when you store your coffee correctly. Let’s take a look at different ways to store coffee beans.

Seal the bag

When you get coffee beans in bulk, they’re usually stored in large bags. If you’re like most people and aren’t using all the beans right away, leaving them sitting around in the pack is tempting. But this is a bad idea because it exposes the beans to air, which causes them to start losing their flavor. So, if you have a bag of coffee that’s been sitting around, seal it before it’s too late. This tip will help keep the air out and your coffee fresh for long.

Don’t buy too much

You probably don’t want to spend more money on coffee you’re going to toss in the trash. So here’s a quick tip: don’t buy too much coffee. When you buy too much coffee at a time, it goes stale faster because it’s exposed to more air. If the package is opened and the beans are exposed to air, they go stale even faster.

Keep humidity and heat low

How Long Does Coffee Last: Interesting Facts! (Winter 2023)Coffee beans are sensitive products. Too much humidity will make them moldy, while too much heat will cause them to dry out and die. We recommend storing them away from any sources of heat. We also recommend getting an airtight container to keep the moisture away. According to most user reviews, the OXO Good Grips POP Container must be the best airtight storage for your coffee beans.

Does freezing help?

When coffee sits for too long in a hot environment, the heat might cause them to break down. This breakdown makes your coffee taste stale. Cooler temperatures prevent this from happening and even extend the life of your beans by up to years. Even though refrigerating your coffee can help extend its lifespan, there are some cons to doing so. For example, the moisture created by refrigeration can cause the beans to become damp, which will speed up oxidation (staling). We recommend storing your beans in an airtight container instead of the refrigerator and using it within one month after opening. After that month is up, keep any extra coffee in an airtight container in a cool and dry place like a pantry.

Final Thoughts

Coffee lasts a long time if it is stored properly. To ensure your coffee lasts as long as possible, store it in an airtight container in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and heat sources. Also, avoid stocking up on coffee in large quantities. Purchase what you can use in a week or so. If you keep your coffee away from moisture and in a dark cabinet at room temperature, it will be okay for months. For added lifespan, you could even dip it in a freezer. Once your coffee flavor becomes stale, it’s done for and should be thrown away.

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