I remember an episode of The Little Rascals where the whole gang was about to have breakfast of Mush and Milk and one by each kid tells the person next to them to “Don’t Drink The Milk, Why? It’s Spoiled” and I still quote that till this day.
So this is what comes to mind anytime I taste something that has lost its freshness and stale coffee is one of them and even if it has nothing to do with milk I’ll still say it. It’s just my humor.
For Freshness whole-bean coffee can last up to 9 months when properly contained at room temperature in the pantry and up to 2 years in the freezer. Ground coffee lasts roughly 4 months when properly contained and at room temperature also in the pantry. Instant coffee has a much longer shelf life but will have an expiration date given by its manufacturer and time will vary dramatically anywhere form 2-20 years due to its packaging.
Let’s dive in a little deeper so you know what to look for and how to better preserve your coffee.
How Long Before Coffee Goes Bad?
The shelf life of your coffee depends on how it was packaged and your storage condition.
Ground coffee comes in an airtight package, sealed and ready for storage. When prepared this way, your coffee can last around 4 months after the sell-by date if you keep it unopened in the pantry and stored at room temperature.
If remained unopened and left in the the freezer it can still keep most of its freshness up to 2 years.
As time goes on your coffee will begin to lose its aroma and its pleasant flavor notes. The fresher the coffee the better it will taste because as coffee ages it starts to degrade.
When it comes to the expiration date, as long as you store it properly it will be safe to consume within that time frame. If you notice multiple dates on your bag of coffee one could be for expiration while the other is the roasting date. The closer to that roasting date you consume the coffee the better, in terms of flavor and safety.
I do want to note that your coffee may last a little longer after expiration and going back to my Little Rascals quote above, coffee is not like milk in that it would spoil or go rancid soon after the best-before-date even when stored properly.
However, when you have freshly roasted and brewed coffee you can smell and taste the difference immediately so don’t wait for it to expire.
Tips On Storing Coffee
You want the keep your coffee tasting its best and you can do so by storing it properly. Here are some helpful coffee storage tips for you to remember:
- Don’t reheat your brewed coffee! Use a thermos to store unused brewed coffee to keep it warm and preserve the flavor for a few hours.
- Store your ground coffee or coffee beans in an airtight, container and in a dry place. I am using Ball Mason jars but if you can find an airtight container that doesn’t let light in, that would be better.
- Buy your coffee in small batches so that that you will always have the freshest roast available.
If you’re worried about how long your ground coffee will last, chances are you might be buying too much at once. For the best flavor and to ease your mind, think about purchasing smaller amounts and investing in quality storage containers.
Stock up when you need to but if you want the freshest coffee then opt for getting a new bag as close to the time when you are about to run out. This is when a coffee subscription would be perfect and there are plenty out there to choose from.
In my house the coffee doesn’t last long so expiration usually doesn’t cross my mind. However if you are ordering yours or buying in bulk then you should know how long you can expect your coffee to still be fresh.