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If you’re a pretty newcomer to the coffee club, you might be wondering how long does coffee last before it goes stale.
Of course, not everyone can sniff a cup of java and tell with perfect accuracy exactly how old it is.
Fortunately, the coffee industry has a pretty standard rule of thumb that can help you figure out how long your latest purchase will last until it goes bad.
Does Coffee Go Bad?
Hell yes! Coffee can definitely go bad.
So, if you’re wondering “How long does coffee last before it goes bad?”, let’s start with a look at just what can go wrong.
How Does Coffee Go Bad?
There are many different things that will cause coffee giants to spoil long before their time.
1. Excessive Heat
This is the most common cause of staleness and it’s really no surprise why: When you roast coffee beans, you turn all of those oils and acids inside out.
And, as they age, those oils will slowly evaporate into the air.
Any time your beans are exposed to excess heat, those oils will slowly disappear into thin air (and your taste buds).
2. Exposure to Light
Coffee is a shade-grown crop that’s accustomed to living in the dark. As a result, light can have a serious negative impact on flavor.
That being said, if you’re going to store your coffee in a cabinet or somewhere else where it could be exposed to direct sunlight, try to keep it in an opaque container or bag.
3. Exposure to Air
It’s a good idea to keep your coffee stored in an airtight container or bag.
When coffee is exposed to air for an extended period of time, it can absorb the ambient flavors from the place it’s stored.
4. Damage from Water
Coffee can absorb water from its surrounding environment.
If you notice that your beans have gotten wet somehow, consider changing how you store them.
Keeping them in a pan or crock can help to keep their moisture away from the rest of your cabinets.
Some folks will store their coffee in a room where there’s regularly lots of food being cooked or consumed.
If the flavors of a liquid or a spice get on your coffee, keep it away from your food!
Now let’s find out the best ways to make sure your coffee stays fresh until you’re ready to drink it.
How Long Do Coffee Beans Last
A whole bean coffee will stay fresh for about six weeks after roasting.
While the numbers above are pretty good estimates of how long beans will stay fresh after they’re roasted, there are a couple of important things to keep in mind.
First, the date on your coffee beans does not have to be exactly 6 weeks before you start drinking them.
It just needs to be within 6 weeks of brewing it so that the flavors haven’t started to mix yet.
Second, it’s important to note that some liquids can have a negative impact on how long your beans last.
This includes the liquids found in the flavored coffees that come in your favorite pod style coffee machines.
These flavored coffees can start to mix with your regular beans fairly quickly.
So, if you’re storing whole beans away for a special occasion, try to avoid using pods or flavors so that the flavor of your beans remains separate for as long as possible.
How Long Does Coffee Last – Coffee Grounds
Ground coffee will generally stay fresh for about two weeks after it’s been ground, but this timeline can be greatly affected by how you store it.
For instance, if you grind your beans in a machine that has an open grinding chamber, you run a greater risk of moisture getting in there and speeding up the process of going stale.
If you grind in a closed machine in a room with high air exchange, then your freshness time could be much shorter.
It’s also important to note that when you grind beans for coffee pods or another machine that uses ground coffee packets, they’re made to keep your ground coffee fresh for about 9 months.
How Long Does Coffee Last – In A Coffee Pod
Single-serve packets of coffee go stale typically within the first year.
Although there are a few exceptions, most of these single-serve devices work by placing flavorings inside each individually-packaged cup.
As long as your machine is running, the freshness window for these single-cup pods changes constantly because it’s constantly heating up or cooling down.
If you’re storing your pod coffee packets away for any amount of time, you should consider switching to a coffeemaker that doesn’t utilize this kind of technology.
To get started, check out these popular coffee makers that are safe for storing your coffee.
How Long Does Coffee Last – On The Shelves
When you purchase some of your favorite coffees, you might not have any particular expiration date printed on the tin or bag.
So, how long can your coffee stay on the shelf before it goes stale?
The answer is about 2 years for whole bean coffee and even longer for ground coffee.
Be sure to note the date on your new purchases so that you’ll know when to open them if they’ve been sitting around too long.
How Long Does Coffee Last In the Fridge?
It’s common practice to store your coffee in the fridge after you purchase it.
This is especially true of beans purchased in bulk and ground coffee purchased in packs.
You may think this is a good way to preserve the flavor and freshness of your beans but beware.
If you put them together with food in your fridge, they can start to absorb some of those flavors, especially when they’re left for an extended period of time.
If you’re going to keep your coffee in the fridge, try to limit the number of times you open it.
Once a week or once every two weeks usually won’t cause much of an issue if your coffee is stored in a cool, dry place.
How To Tell If Coffee Is Rancid
So the question here is “Does Coffee Expire”?
Since coffee is such an absorbent food item, it can be difficult to tell when it has gone rancid.
Coffee will last longer than many foods, but if you’re not careful, your whole red can go bad before you ever know what happened.
Fortunately, there are a few ways that you can tell if your coffee has gone bad:
- It Smells Like Cheese
This might sound like a weird one, but many people have noticed this strange scent emanating from their coffee as it goes bad.
This usually happens when moisture or other elements are present to make the coffee smell funky.
- You Notice Mold
If you’ve got a bag of coffee that’s been sitting around for a long time, check its seal.
Molds grow on all food items, even coffee beans.
If there’s any kind of discoloration or dampness inside your package then you should consider throwing it out immediately.
Don’t cut corners on this one.
- It Tastes Weird
If your coffee smells a little off, it could be a sign that your beans have gone stale.
Think about what you last had for dinner and try to think of the same kind of smells coming from your cup.
Then remember that coffee is much stronger than other types of food.
So, you’ll want to keep an eye out for any funky smells.
- It’s Been A Long Time
How long does coffee last?
If your coffee hasn’t been consumed within 6 months, it might be a good idea to toss it out.
You can test its freshness by taking a sniff and paying attention to the color and flavor of your brew.
How to Make Coffee Last Longer
There is an easy way to preserve the freshness of your coffee, no matter how it’s stored.
At least for a few more days or even weeks.
All you need to do is store your coffee in an airtight container or closed bag.
It doesn’t matter if the container is plastic or glass, just be sure that there are no openings in the lid for air to get in.
If your beans come with a storage bag, it’s important that you not only close it but also squeeze all of the air out before closing it completely.
This will ensure that there’s no room for extra oxygen inside the bag and will therefore keep your beans fresh for longer.
In terms of keeping your coffee fresh for longer, the optimal environment is one that is dark, cool, and dry.
The coffeemaker method for preserving coffee is a little different from the airtight storage method.
Instead of keeping your coffee in a closed container, you can also brew it with a paper filter and then pour it into a storage container.
This way, you’ll have a sealed container that will keep moisture out while still allowing the flavor of your beans to stay in there.
If you’re storing whole beans away for any amount of time, consider purchasing an airtight storage container to keep them in when they’re not being used.
So, if you’re still thinking how long are coffee beans good for, I hope I’ve answered that.
Final Thoughts on How Long Does Coffee Last
I think it goes without saying that you might be a little nervous about how long can coffee last after it’s been opened.
Or, if there’s a way to preserve your coffee for longer.
Sometimes the packaging doesn’t have much information on it so you don’t really know what you’re up against.
I’ll admit, I was a little intimidated by the thought of my freshly-opened bag of beans going bad within a week or two.
But you should be able to enjoy your coffee for a few more days or weeks if you follow simple rules.
And if you’re storing your coffee in the fridge, don’t ever open it more than once a week. At that point, it’s probably going bad anyway.
If there was anything left to rot then it would have already done so by that point.
Go ahead and transfer it into a sealed container and keep a lid on top of that to keep moisture out.