Like everything in life, coffee unfortunately also has an expiry date.
But when coffee goes bad, it’s not about that it’s spoiled – coffee technically ‘lasts’ you for as long as it’s fresh for.
So how long does coffee last?
The freshest coffee is always the best-tasting, so it’s important to know how long it’ll stay fresh for and what you can do to keep it fresh longer.
If you haven’t been acquainted before with signs that your coffee went bad or isn’t fresh anymore, we’ll tell you all about what to look out for!
Let’s find out…
How Long Does Coffee Last?
There are a lot of factors that fall on your coffee’s shelf life.
Do you buy your coffee ground or do you buy whole coffee beans?
As we’ve said, your coffee won’t exactly go ‘bad’ or spoil, but once a specific timeframe passes, depending on its form and how its stored, it will lose its flavor and freshness.
Let’s break down how long coffee lasts in all its forms.
In general, pre-ground, whole bean coffee retains its freshness for the longest.
If your coffee beans are still sealed, they can actually last you 6-9 months in the pantry! And if you freeze them, they can even last you up to 2-3 years.
If you buy your coffee ground and still haven’t opened its packaging yet, you can keep it fresh for 3-5 months in a room temperature pantry.
And similar to freezing coffee beans, you can also store your ground coffee to get it to last you for longer. In the freezer, your ground coffee beans can last you up to a year or two.
And when it comes to instant coffee, it’s the elixir!
Technically, instant coffee can last you indefinitely, especially if you keep it in the freezer.
But that ‘indefinitely’ could just mean 2-20 years – we like to think that’s long enough! Besides, how much longer would you have wanted to keep it, anyway?
Unopened instant coffee will last you that long because the aluminium layer that keeps it sealed blocks out any moisture or heat.
This means that there’s very minimal risk of mold developing or for your coffee to lose its flavor faster.
Whether you buy your coffee pre-ground or ground, once you’ve opened it, you’ll start running out of freshness faster than when it was sealed.
A good way to get your coffee to last you longer in general is to buy beans and grind just enough of what you need every day.
But if you prefer buying it ground, it’s best to use 3-4 weeks from opening.
Whole coffee beans that have been opened are also good to go with you for up to 3 months in the pantry for best freshness.
Once you’ve brewed your coffee, it’s best to drink it as soon as you can – within an hour or two – because that’s when it’ll be the freshest.
After that, it begins to lose freshness and flavor. But if you couldn’t drink it for whatever reason, it’s good to go for 12 hours, but best kept in the fridge.
How Does Coffee Go Bad?
It’s good to keep coffee in tightly sealed bags or packaging because oxygen is one of the factors that make coffee go stale.
When your coffee is exposed to air, this speeds up the process of oxidation.
Oxidation is when oxygen from the air combines with the chemical compounds of coffee and caused the lipids to go stale and organic compounds to evaporate.
The result of that is coffee going stale, or in other words, going ‘bad’.
In addition, exposure to moisture, heat, and light will also get your coffee to go stale.
How to Best Store Coffee
The best kind of packaging for storage of coffee is one that is airtight and opaque, and from there, you’re better off keeping your coffee somewhere cool and dry.
This eliminates the risk of any oxygen, light, heat, or moisture making any changes to your coffee’s flavor profile.
Besides knowing how to properly store your coffee, one of the good tips to keep your coffee fresh for long is to buy just as much as you need.
Coffee is best brewed and consumed when it’s fresh, so as soon as you buy it, it’s best to use it up as fast as you can.
Buying more coffee than you need will result in having to store it for longer, which, while you might store it properly to keep it fresh for longer, there’s more risk of it going stale than if you finish it right away.
In all cases, fresh coffee is always the best.
So now that you know how long coffee lasts and how you should be storing it, you’ll hopefully get to keep your coffee fresh for longer – or even use it up within its timeframe of peak freshness!