Ground coffee is always good to have at home. You can whip up a cup anytime you are craving a quick drink. But you still need to know when you are too late to the party and it is time to toss it out.
How long does ground coffee last when stored properly?
An unopened bag of ground coffee stored in a dry place will last you 3 to 5 months past the sell-by date. If the unopened pack is frozen, you can push it up to 2 years while retaining a decent flavor profile. An opened pack, if stored well, can be consumed within 1 to 2 weeks. If an opened bag is frozen, you are looking at a few months, it can last between 1 to 5 months, depending on how you store it.
How Long Can You Store Ground Coffee For?
How long your ground coffee lasts depends entirely on how well you store it. If you follow the best storage practices, you can enjoy them for months and years. But at the end of the day, it is an edible item and will spoil sooner or later.
Here’s how long you can consume it in different storage scenarios:
Grinding Coffee At Home
Prefer grinding your whole coffee beans at home? I recommend brewing them within 20 minutes. This is when it is at its most flavorful. The more your coffee encounters oxygen, the sooner it starts breaking down (remember ‘oxidation’ from science class?).
Having said that, your coffee won’t spoil that soon. It will not even be unsafe to brew. In fact, you can store it for years just like your tea bags . But you will be losing a certain amount of flavor as time passes.
How Long Will Unopened Ground Coffee Last?
Unopened ground coffee will not spoil for a year or more. But I suggest drinking it no farther than 3 to 5 months following the sell-by date for a decent flavor. After that, you will know it is coffee as a fact, but the taste won’t be a dead giveaway. If you are freezing unopened ground coffee, you can enjoy it for 1 to 2 years.
It is always a good practice to check the manufacturing date before buying ground coffee. You should always hunt down the freshest pack. The fresher the pack, the longer it will last.
How Long Will Opened Ground Coffee Last?
If you have already cracked open a pack of coffee, you are looking at 2 weeks at most. If frozen, you can extend its shelf life to a month to 5 months at most if stored well. But in general, the quality of your coffee will eventually decrease over time.
Buying a fresh pack can push the shelf life a little more. But, I suggest consuming it within 2 weeks after opening the pack.
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How to Store Ground Coffee?
As I mentioned earlier, how long your coffee lasts depends on a few factors. Apart from buying fresh coffee, you also want to ensure it is stored in the best ways. Below I have listed the best ways to store ground coffee:
1. Store in a Cool, Dry Area
You should always store coffee in a cool and dry area for it to last longer. Do not let it come in contact with moisture. This way, you will extend its shelf life and enjoy it for far longer. Air, heat, and moisture are never good news for ground coffee.
Avoid the window area since it lets in light. We don’t want the light to come in contact with our coffee.
2. Avoid Glass Jars
Sure, coffee in mason jars looks aesthetic, but they are not good for your coffee’s health. Mason jars let in light, which might make your coffee deteriorate rapidly. Try storing coffee in a color-block container instead of a transparent one.
3. Small Portions Are Key
Are you planning to freeze ground beans? Do so in small portions in airtight containers. Avoid repeated opening and closing of a coffee container. It can expose the coffee to air and other detrimental elements. To counter that, storing it in small batches ensures your unused coffee is protected.
4. Choose a Non-Reactive Container
Some prefer keeping coffee in its original packaging. If you are not one of them, choose non-reactive containers. Ceramics, stainless steel, glass, and tin are great options for coffee containers.
The rules are the same for keeping ground coffee in the pantry or the open. The shelf life will be at most 2 weeks for ground coffee stored in the refrigerator or left out on the counter. If frozen, you can extend it by a month or two.
Signs that Ground Coffee Has Gone Bad
Spoiled ground coffee won’t emit a foul odor as potent as rotten meat or produce. So it is crucial to know what you should be looking for. There are 2 ways to understand if it is time to toss your coffee jar into the bin.
1. Mold or Moisture
If water gets inside your coffee jar, mold will grow with time. If not mold, you will feel a general wetness in the coffee. Either way, if you notice moisture in your coffee, it is best avoided.
It is hard to tell whether ground coffee has gone bad simply by looking at it. When stored for long enough, it often changes from its original deep black color to a more mellow shade of brown.
3. Fading Smell
We know coffee by its tender aroma, but the fragrance dissipates when it is past its prime. A small whiff will tell you that your coffee has probably lost its aroma. What is coffee without its flavor and aroma? So when it loses those very attributes, I prefer avoiding it.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q1. Does ground coffee expire?
Ans. Yes, ground coffee does expire, but when it expires depends on how you store it and how fresh your coffee is. Unopened ground coffee will expire after about 5 months. For an opened package, the expiry date is two weeks, whether refrigerated or not.
Q2. Can you drink 2-year-old ground coffee?
Ans. You can drink 2-year-old ground coffee as long as it has been frozen in an unopened condition. If your coffee has been opened, you cannot consume it after 2 years. It is always best to toss it out if it has been 2 years since you purchased the coffee.
Q3. How do you know if ground coffee is bad?
Ans. You will know ground coffee has gone bad solely by its lack of aroma and flavor. Whip up a quick cup and do a taste test. You know what to do if it tastes less flavorful or not flavorful at all. As for physical signs, look for mold or wetness. If there is any, throw it out. Discoloration from black to light brown can also signify bad ground coffee.
Q4. How long does fresh ground coffee last in a bag?
Ans. You can leave an unopened bag on the counter or the refrigerator for about 3 to 5 months past its expiry. Unopened ground coffee can last for a year or two in the fridge. But if you open it, 2 weeks is the limit.
Q5. How long does ground coffee stay fresh after grinding?
Ans. Brew coffee within 20 minutes of grinding. This way, you get its authentic flavor and aroma. The more time passes, the more its quality dips. Having said that, you can still enjoy it for a few months if stored well, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
The Bottom Line
With ground coffee, the aroma is everything. A great deal of it is great, and a lack of it is an abomination. So let your sense of smell guide you toward good coffee. It is always good to be on the side of caution when edible items are concerned.
Always check the label for the dates of manufacture and expiry printed. Make sure you grab the freshest ones on the lot. Store them well, and you should be able to enjoy ground coffee for years to come.