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How Long Does Coffee Last?

How Long Does Coffee Last?

How Long Does Coffee Last?

Picture this: you're reaching for your favorite bag of coffee beans when something gives you pause. How long does coffee last, anyway, and how long have these beans been part of your morning rotation? A quick check of the packaging shows they've been on your shelf for months, with a best-by date that's right on the horizon.

If this sounds familiar, don't fret! Whether you love grinding your own beans each day or you prefer prepackaged ground coffee, this morning staple may last longer than you think. Before you pitch that bag in the garbage, here's what you need to know about coffee's longevity and how it affects the flavor of your daily cuppa.

How Long Do Whole Coffee Beans Last?

Here's the good news: whole coffee beans can last for a while. With proper packaging, these dry beans are safe to store for months on end. Some varieties can even last for two years!

Unopened Package

For details on your unopened coffee beans, check the packaging for details.

Most bags will come with a "best by" or "best sold by" date rather than a coffee expiration date. These are the manufacturer's suggestions on how long the typical bag will stay fresh.

However, these dates are often suggestions to help you drink the coffee while its quality remains high. The beans won't have gone bad if you open the bag after the date on the packaging, but the coffee's taste may not be the same. Often, your morning cup will lack the rich and robust flavors it would have had early on.

In some cases, you may also find a "roasted on" date to help you understand how old the beans are.

If there's no "best by" date on your unopened bag, experts suggest using the coffee within two years of purchasing it. If you want to extend that timeline, stick your package of coffee beans in the freezer and pull them out to defrost when you're ready to open them.

Opened Package

After you've opened a package of whole coffee beans, the timer starts ticking down. Your cups of coffee will taste freshest within one to three weeks of opening the bag. After that, the coffee's quality may decrease little by little.

If you want to enjoy your coffee beans for longer, make sure to store them well. Keep them in an airtight container away from moisture, light, and heat. You can even stick them in the freezer to keep them for an extra three to four months, though this won't preserve their taste by much.

How Long Does Ground Coffee Last?

If you've purchased ground coffee or you ground your own beans, expect them to lose their freshness faster than stored whole beans. After the coffee grinding process, the carbon dioxide from roasting begins to escape right away, changing the taste. This happens no matter how ground coffee is packaged or stored.

Unopened Package

Vacuum-sealed, pre-ground coffee will stay good for around a year. Again, look for the manufacturer's "best by" or expiration date.

Opened Package or Fresh Ground Coffee

If you've opened prepackaged ground coffee or you've ground your own beans, you'll enjoy them more if you drink a cup of joe as soon as possible. The taste will be best within a few hours of grinding, though it will remain fresh for another one to three days.

Sealing ground coffee in an airtight container will help preserve its freshness, but it won't make a huge difference. No matter how you store your ground coffee, aim to go through it fast!

How Long Does Coffee Last Once Prepared?

After you've brewed your coffee, its fresh taste will start to fade right away. However, the details will vary based on how you make and store it:

Hot vs. Cold Coffee

If you've made hot coffee, aim to drink it within a half-hour for maximum freshness. Storing it in a sealed thermos or drinking container can extend that timeline to an hour. However, there's nothing wrong with enjoying your cup a little while later: the flavor may decline, but you can still drink it after a few hours.

With a cold brew, you can enjoy your drink at peak freshness for three to seven days if you keep it cold.

Keep in mind that if you've added milk or creamer to either of these types of coffee, you'll need to enjoy your drink within two or three hours to keep it from spoiling.

Storing Brewed Coffee

Let's say you brewed a cup of coffee, but something came up and prevented you from drinking it.

Sticking your drink in the fridge can extend its lifespan and preserve your favorite flavors a bit, but not by much. In a sealed container in the fridge, hot coffee will last for an extra three days.

If you've forgotten your coffee on the counter, however, you may be out of luck. There isn't much research on the shelf life of brewed coffee that's been on the counter for a while, but experts recommend tossing it once it has sat at room temperature for more than four hours. This is especially true if you've added milk or creamer, which should never stay at room temperature for longer than two hours.

Spoiled coffee isn't a huge source of food-borne illness, but it can still develop mold. Never drink coffee that smells bad or looks discolored.

Enjoy High-Quality Coffee

Here's the bottom line: the best way to enjoy rich and flavorful coffee is to drink it early on! Choosing whole beans and grinding just enough to drink each morning is the best way to get a robust, delicious cuppa every time. With proper storage, this method allows you to enjoy your favorite blends for months to come - if the bag lasts that long!

That's where Time for Caffe comes in. We roast our highest-quality beans the day they ship, allowing them to reach your doorstep at peak freshness. To fuel your day with a gourmet brew every time, shop our collections.


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