- Updated Mar 27, 2020
- Writen by Robert Smith
How Long Does Coffee Last? How to Store Correctly?
- Updated Jul 26, 2019
- Writen by Robert Smith
If you are a coffee aficionado, chances are that there is that one particular coffee type or brand whether it is whole beans, ground coffee or instant coffee that you just love. And to make sure you always have it, you would probably not mind buying as much of it as possible.
But, before you rush into buying dozens of cartons or hundreds of pounds of coffee, it is important to know that coffee does not last forever. After all, it is still food, and so after some time it will spoil or go bad.
However, this should not stop you from buying coffee in bulk as you only need to know how long coffee lasts to be able to plan your purchase volume and time well. And in this piece, we make this clear by explaining the lifespans of different coffee types.
How Long Different Kinds of Coffee Last
Although all kinds of coffee will go bad at some time, the amount of time it takes for the coffee to change the taste or become unfit for human consumption depends on the type. Here is a breakdown of how long different coffees will last.
1. Whole Coffee Beans
If you love your coffee as fresh as possible, it is always a great idea to buy it in the form of roasted beans and then grind it freshly every time you want to make coffee.
Whole roasted coffee beans will generally last longer than most other forms of coffee, and this is mostly because there is less surface area of the coffee that will be exposed to elements like oxygen, light, moisture, and heat.
If whole beans are properly packaged in a pack that includes a degassing valve and multiple layers, and properly stored without being open, it can last for up to 9 months on the shelf and up to 3 years in the freezer.
On the other hand, an opened bag of roasted whole beans will last for about 6 months on the shelf and 2 years in the freezer.
2. Ground Coffee
Coffee grounds will give you an easy time and save you some time as you will not need to grind beans before you can make coffee. All you need to do is measure the grinds and use them to make your favorite coffee.
However, this convenience comes at a cost as it makes coffee grounds relatively less durable, and this is more so when compared to roasted whole beans.
With coffee grounds, there is more surface area of the coffee that will be exposed to heat, moisture, light, and oxygen which reduces the shelf life significantly.
When stored properly, a pack of unopened coffee grounds should last for up to 5 months on a pantry shelf and up to 2 years in the freezer. An opened pack, on the other hand, has a pantry shelf life of 5 months and 5 months in the freezer.
3. Instant Coffee
Instant coffee can be correctly described as brewed coffee that all the moisture has been removed. Coffee on this form has one of the longest lifespans, and it is perhaps the best for those looking to buy their coffee in bulk.
Whether opened or unopened, this coffee will last for a long time, and it should not surprise you to find instant coffee that is up to 20 years old and still safe to drink.
And if the instant coffee is properly packaged and sealed, it can last indefinitely in a freezer which means it will never go bad.
4. Brewed Coffee
While instant coffee has the longest lifespan of all forms of coffee, brewed coffee has the shortest as it will only be good for a few hours.
In many instances when people ask how long coffee lasts, brewed coffee is what is on their mind. And like the other forms of coffee above, the actual lifespan depends on factors like where and how it is stored.
When left on the countertop, brewed coffee should be drunk in 12 hours but you can keep it for up to 4 days in the fridge or even longer when you freeze it. But, if it is a cold brew, the coffee can last up to 2 weeks if you seal it properly and store it in the fridge.
How to Tell Coffee is Spoiled/Rotten/Bad
Now that you know how long your coffee will last in different forms, it is only fair also to know how to tell when the coffee is spoiled, rotten or goes bad to ensure you do not consume it.
Because coffee will look the same no matter its age and condition, the most reliable way to tell whether it is spoilt or not is by smelling it. Coffee that has gone bad will not have that distinctive and pleasant coffee aroma.
Also, coffee might lose its deep dark shade when brewed and look lighter than usual which is a good indication it is spoilt.
If you can smell or see signs of mold and mildew, this is also a reliable indication that your coffee has gone bad and you should hence not consume it.
How to Store Coffee Correctly
If you do not want to have to worry about your expensive and precious coffee going bad, you need to know how to store it properly which should be quite easy as it is quite similar to how you would store most other foods.
The two greatest enemies of coffee whether it is in the form of whole beans, grinds or instant coffee are water and moisture. If you can keep them away from your coffee, it should last long enough.
The ideal storage for your coffee will be an airtight container or pack which you should then place in a shelf or fridge far away from elements like light, heat and more importantly moisture. There are specialty coffee storage containers in the market which will be very helpful with this and do not cost much.
Storing your coffee in the freezer is a great idea provided you never allow it to thaw. But, the good news is that most forms of coffee like coffee grounds will not freeze in the freezer and will hence always be ready to use without requiring any defrosting.
Coffee is that one beverage that many people cannot do without, and so it is important to know how long it lasts to ensure you never run out of it and can easily plan your purchase.
But, the lifespan of coffee will depend on different factors such as the form because whole beans will not have the same lifespan as ground or instant coffee. Also, other things like where and how you store your coffee will affect how long it lasts.
And from the information in this piece, it is clear that regardless of the kind of coffee you have, the only way to ensure it lasts is to store it properly away from moisture, heat, light, and water as they can ruin and reduce its shelf life greatly.