How long your coffee stays fresh depends on the coffee’s quality and how you handle it.
“Just freshly ground coffee will taste good.”
“Consuming coffee within a few weeks after roasting is advisable.”
“After opening, consuming within a few weeks is recommended.”
And I could go on. You’ve surely encountered these sentences before. Don’t worry, I’ll help you keep that coffee deliciously fresh! I’ll answer these questions:
- What can you do to ensure every cup of coffee tastes equally delicious, even over several weeks?
- How should you store coffee, and when is the point where you shouldn’t expect too much from it anymore?
- In other words, how long is whole bean and ground coffee good for?
The shelf life of coffee
Coffee is a delicate product; it can go bad or stale before reaching the roasting facility.
So, it’s not only the final product that can go bad but also the raw, relatively long-traveled green coffee before it gets roasted.
Like all similar food products, the finished product is a dry item, and it doesn’t have a fixed expiration date. It falls into the category of durable foods, but that doesn’t mean that after 2 years from roasting, we can brew an equally tasty espresso as in the first week. However, proper coffee storage can help you brew a flavorful cup even after this time.
Generally, a classic coffee bag has a shelf life of 1-2 years from the roasting date, while it’s a few months for specialty coffee.
So, there is an approximate answer to the question of how long coffee lasts, but we can take steps to ensure that you can enjoy the rich flavors for as long as possible.
Read my related articles:
How long is ground coffee good for?
Regarding shelf life, ground coffee only spoils faster than its whole bean counterpart but loses its quality much quicker.
The reason is simple: placing a coffee bean on the table is in contact with oxygen on a large surface. However, if we break it into halves, the surface area is exposed to oxygen even more.
The best solution is to always grind the necessary amount just before consumption. But if you don’t have this option, consider buying smaller quantities you can consume within 1-2 weeks.
How long does whole-bean coffee last?
As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, the initial quality of whole-bean coffee can be preserved longer.
Using an airtight metal container or a vacuum-sealed zip-lock bag with a valve that allows you to push out the oxygen can be very useful.
This way, the coffee can maintain its good quality for up to 6 months.
How to recognize if coffee has gone bad?
- There’s something wrong if you can see that the beans/grounds are clumped together!
- Losing its aroma is also a sign that something isn’t right.
- And if you can smell something off, the coffee has gone bad.
There’s one more thing we call “tired” coffee in the industry.
- You can notice this when you prepare everything as usual, but there’s no crema on top of your coffee.
- Or you can see during the pour that the beautiful, vibrant brown color is missing.
- And of course, if you feel that the taste of the coffee is weak and watery.
- These are all signs that the coffee has completely lost its aroma, BUT it won’t harm you if you still drink it.
Loss of aroma and becoming stale
After roasting, if carefully processed coffee beans are not stored properly, unfortunately, two processes can begin.
First, as long as coffee comes into contact with oxygen, it continuously loses its aroma. This doesn’t mean that if you leave the coffee on the counter after your morning coffee, your drink prepared in the afternoon will definitely be bad.
Here, we’re talking about days – the difference can be noticeable after a few days. Just think about it: when you start using a freshly bought car air freshener, how strong its scent is… But after 1-2 weeks, it’s a different story!
The other, more severe consequence of improper storage is coffee becoming stale. This usually happens when something is stored in a humid, wet place and is constantly exposed to oxygen. So, we should avoid such places!
How to store coffee so it lasts longer?
- Use airtight, one-way valve bags to store coffee beans long-term.
- Reseal coffee bags tightly after each use to preserve freshness.
- Use airtight containers for ground coffee and clean them regularly.
- Keep coffee away from light, heat, and moisture to preserve quality.
- Do not store coffee in the fridge.
- Cold brew and cold drip methods are good for storing brewed coffee.
How long do roasted coffee beans last if you freeze them?
- Freezing coffee beans can extend their shelf life by several months (3-6 months).
- Use small, airtight freezer bags to store the beans to prevent exposure to air and light.
- Remove a few beans every few days to avoid moisture forming on them.
- Frozen coffee beans may have reduced freshness and flavor.
- Roasted coffee beans should not be frozen if you want to preserve their flavor.
- If you prioritize extending shelf life over flavor, freezing coffee beans in airtight bags is a good option.