If you drink coffee every day, you’re bound to stockpile coffee for at least a month or so. But the problem is, how long can your coffee last before it goes bad?
Well, if you get your daily dose of caffeine each morning from Starbucks, Dunkin’, Tim Hortons, or any other coffee chain, you don’t have to worry about your coffee going bad.
Does Coffee Go Bad?
The short answer is yes; coffee can go bad, but not in the way you think. Your coffee won’t grow mold in several days like other perishable food.
However, you’ll notice a change in taste and smell.
|Type of Coffee||Expiration Date|
|Whole Coffee Beans||6–12 Months|
|Ground Coffee||1–2 Weeks|
|Brewed Coffee||3–4 Days|
|Instant Coffee||Up to 20 years|
The longer answer to this question can be broken down into the reasons why coffee goes bad.
Why Does Coffee Go Bad?
Oxygen is necessary for the survival of organisms and plants, but it’s also destructive. Have you seen metal rust? Or an apple turn brown after you cut it?
That’s attributed to oxidation. Exposure to oxygen breaks down the coffee acids, compromises aromatic oils and coffee cell structures. After all this, your coffee will have little to no flavor.
This is why after storing your coffee for a few weeks, you often find that it tastes stale. You’ll notice that your daily shot of caffeine lacks the usual vibrant flavors you’re accustomed to.
It affects both coffee grounds and whole bean coffee. However, the rate of oxidation is faster in coffee grounds.
Why? Because whole beans are larger, and it takes longer for oxygen to penetrate the larger particles than ground coffee.
With this in mind, don’t batch grind your coffee. Grind only what you need, and the rest you can grind when that need arises.
And in case you’re having trouble grinding your coffee beans, these tips will help ease your worries.
Roasted coffee is hygroscopic; thus, it tends to absorb moisture from the air.
Any water absorbed does little to improve the flavor, as your coffee will also absorb flavors and odors present in the water. Also, the water absorbed will displace the essential oils in your roasted coffee, accelerating aging.
It’s no surprise that you’re advised not to store coffee in your freezer. You’re exposing your coffee to moisture, which is why your coffee goes bad after several days in the freezer.
Also, storing your coffee in the freezer means there’s a drastic temperature change every time you remove the coffee for use or return it to the freezer. This causes condensation to form, exposing your roasted beans to moisture again.
After a quick look at the packaging on your coffee, you’ll notice the words, “Store in a cool, dry, and dark place.”
The reason for this is to avoid exposure to light, especially sunlight.
Direct sunlight tends to accelerate the breakdown of compounds such as proteins, fats, and enzymes. These chemical compounds are responsible for creating the rich flavors you enjoy when drinking freshly brewed coffee.
Once exposed to sunlight, expect your coffee grounds to go stale and lose their flavor.
Earlier, we mentioned that coffee should be stored in a cool, dry, and dark place. The “cool” ensures that your coffee is stored away from heat.
However, this isn't an excuse to try freezing coffee.
To ensure that your coffee doesn’t go bad, you need to keep it away from both heat and freezing temperatures.
If you expose your roasted coffee beans to heat, especially before brewing, it can lead to flavor loss.
How Long Will Coffee Last?
It depends on the storage method and the type of coffee. Some you can store with other food in your pantry, while others need proper storage.
Whole Coffee Beans
Whole coffee beans can last anywhere from a few weeks to several years. How long your coffee will last depends on the storage method and whether it’s roasted or unroasted.
Green coffee beans (unroasted) can last 6–12 months before losing flavors. Alternatively, roasted coffee beans can last up to six weeks.
Once the coffee is roasted and broken down into smaller pieces, don’t expect it to last long. On average, ground coffee lasts for about one to two weeks before it goes stale.
Once you’ve brewed the perfect cup of coffee, be sure to drink it within 12 hours. But if you choose to keep your beverage for later, be sure to store it in the refrigerator.
Drink it within three to four days. Any longer, and it has gone bad.
Instant coffee is one of the few foods that doesn’t have an expiration date.
Instant coffee is dehydrated crystals of coffee sealed in a moisture-free package.
As mentioned earlier, moisture is one of the elements that damage coffee. Therefore, if you store your instant coffee in a cool, dry, and dark place, it should retain its flavor for several years.
In fact, it’s estimated that instant coffee can last up to 20 years. However, if you look at the packaging, you’ll still see a best by date as a quality indicator.
How to Store Coffee
When storing coffee, you need to avoid exposure to heat, light, water, and oxygen.
Don’t store it in a clear glass or open container, as it will only result in your coffee going bad.
Instead, adopt these storage alternatives;
Option 1: Don’t Break the Seal
If your coffee comes in an opaque vacuum-sealed bag, leave it as is.
Don’t open it unless you intend to consume the coffee.
Option 2: Store in an Airtight Container
The biggest threats to ground coffee are oxygen, light, and moisture.
You can avoid all these by opting to store ground coffee in an opaque, airtight container.
>> Read the full review of the best airtight coffee storage containers
Option 3: Buy Fresh Coffee
Buy only what you need. If it sounds like a hassle, the upside is that you’ll always consume freshly ground coffee.
However, if you want to avoid the daily trip to the grocery store, there is another option.
Option 4: Choose a Subscription Plan
Understandably, you’re struggling to store coffee and retain the freshness. You have to handle coffee with care by grinding only what you need or storing it in a vacuum.
There’s another option. Instead of struggling with storage options, you can choose a Nomad coffee club subscription plan.
If you choose any of these plans, you’re guaranteed ethically sourced coffee that’s roasted and shipped within 48 hours. Once it’s delivered, you can grind it in small quantities as you wait for your next shipment.
You’re also free to adjust delivery times or switch to a longer subscription plan.
We’re committed to delivering the best quality coffee from a wide range of coffee-growing regions.
Sign up today and join the thousands of coffee aficionados who have their coffee delivered to their doorstep.
"Nomad is one of a kind and truly lives up to the name providing artisanal coffees from all over the world."