How Long Does Coffee Last?
February 07, 2022 | Kurt Parker
In today’s blog, we’re going to look at the shelf life of coffee.
Our team of Coffee lovers joins forces to research on how long you can expect coffee in bags or when you drink it last.
We looked at shelf life of:
And we’re also going to look at hints and tips for storing coffee when you get it home.
We also researched the scientific bacterial breeding ground of coffee beans.
Let’s start learning now!
How Long Does Coffee Last for Brewed coffee, Instant coffee, and Whole bean coffee?
There are two processes at play when we talk about the shelf life of coffee.
The first is the loss of volatile aroma compounds.
As soon as we roast the coffee, and as soon as it drops out of the roaster, we are losing volatile aromas.
Over the course of days, weeks, or months, the number of volatile aromas in the coffee diminishes.
We want you to enjoy the coffee with the most volatile aromas in it possible.
These aromas contribute to the character, flavor, and excitement of the coffee.
They’re what makes roasting, brewing, and drinking coffee so enjoyable.
There’s a second process that’s worth mentioning. And that’s the stealing of coffee or the development of off-flavors. This doesn’t happen for much longer.
In a bag of coffee, it won’t happen for around about three months.
And if we pack the coffee in an inert atmosphere, we can extend that shelf life for as long as 12 months.
But we have to understand that throughout those months, we are still losing volatile aromas.
That’s one thing we can’t stop happening the bag, the coffee doesn’t sit dormant in the bag.
It is shedding volatile aromas all the time.
Buy as close to the roasting date as possible and drink your coffee as close as possible.
What do we mean by as close as we can?
It’s about a month, anything up to about a month, and you’re going to maximize your enjoyment of a bag of coffee? If you’re an espresso drinker, and if you have an espresso machine at home, and you enjoy drinking,
then there’s a little bit of extra information that needs to be bear in mind.
When we roast coffee, we develop or build up carbon dioxide gas within the bean.
And over the course of seven to 10 days after roasting.
The grain releases this carbon dioxide, we call it degassing or gassing D.
It’s better if you’re brewing espresso to allow all of this gas to leave the coffee.
So around about seven to 10 days after the roast date, is a really good time to start enjoying coffee through an espresso machine.
If you don’t have an espresso machine, this is still applicable to regular coffee makers.
Here are some of our questions about brewed coffee.
Can we reheat brewed coffee that’s gone cold, and arguably more important than the mere shelf life?
After which the coffee shall perish? How long does brewed coffee stay palatable so that we can actually enjoy what we’re drinking?
A common misconception when it comes to the absolute shelf life of brewed coffee is that coffee is almost nearly all water and water doesn’t expire, right?
Well, coffee just like any other foodstuff goes bad because though it’s mostly water, we’re extracting the organic compounds to the acids and oils that make coffee taste like coffee.
We should take note that this warm human environment full of organic compounds is a great breeding ground for bacteria.
Especially if you’re coffees left uncovered on the counter for those rascals to parachute down and land on your coffee. While caffeine and coffee are generally known to be antibacterial. Some studies even find that caffeine kills E-coli.
A recent study in a scientific report by researchers found thriving colonies of caffeine-resistant bacteria, Pseudomonas, and coffee machine drip trays.
Now that’s not to say your coffee is as conducive to bacteria growth and say, a glass of milk.
That’s also why black coffee that lacks sugary compounds like lactose and milk lasts so much longer than coffee with added cream and sugar. While we couldn’t find any conclusive research on microbial growth within brewed coffee, people seem to agree that anything within 45 hours after brewing is completely safe.
Now even after your coffee has cooled down to room temperature within a reasonable time, the taste of your coffee doesn’t go anywhere, if not get accentuated by the lack of smell.
At this point, the molecules are not oscillating and vibrating as rapidly as before, and the coffee has given away most of its aroma.
But instead, the lack of aroma pulls the sweetness, acidity, and overall taste of coffee.
And the saying good to the last drop really rings true here.
This is why cooling it down to room temperature is sometimes my favorite way to make coffee.
As long as your black coffee sits for a few several hours in a relatively cool environment.
We find no problem drinking it and so should you anyways.
Whole Bean Coffee
As for the whole bean coffee, it is going to be are going to have a lot more of a shelf life than if it’s ground.
Oxygen accelerates the loss of volatile aromas.
It takes a while for caulk for oxygen to penetrate into a coffee bean.
Whereas if we grind the coffee bead, we expose much more of it to oxygen, and therefore we speed up the loss of those volatile aromas.
Buy beans, and only grind as much coffee as you intend to use at a time.
This is the best approach and will maximize your enjoyment with this coffee bag.
If you don’t have your own coffee grinder, choose from what we have on these list.
So, you get the coffee home and we open it and immediately we expose the whole bag to oxygen in the air. The next question is how long can we expect this bag of coffee to last? Once we’ve opened it.
If you follow my first bit of advice and you’ve bought the coffee as close to the real estate as possible, we think you can honestly get a good week a good week’s worth of use out of this coffee.
Once you’ve taken your portion out for the day all you need to do is reseal it.
And at the same time, try and expel as much of the air out of the bag as you possibly can. And then store the coffee in a cool, dry place.
Avoiding the fridge, the moisture in the fridge is going to do harm to your coffee.
So as far as possible, find somebody dry in a cupboard out of the way, it’s as simple as that. You don’t need to worry about things like the fridge.
And we don’t really think we need to worry about plastic containers, use the bag it comes in, squeeze as much out as you possibly can reseal it.
And there we go. It’s going to be good for about a week for you if it’s kept in bean form.
For this type, we just need to check the expiration date in the packaging. Usually it is around 3 months.
After a cup of coffee or cold brew coffee, we need to unlock it using a lock pack or container to zeal. To avoid moisture inside the pack of coffee.
We have a list of the best instant coffee beans here if you are into the on-the-go lifestyle.
Freezing coffee beans
Finally, a little note on freezing. Many of us successfully freeze coffee. And there’s not a huge amount of research out there that suggests it’s a good or a bad thing. From what we have read.
There have been some positive results.
If freezing something you’d like to try, have a go. If it works for you, then why not?
If it extends the shelf life, and you’re happy with the results, then why not freeze the coffee. So, there we go. Some ideas on how to store coffee.
To recap, buy the coffee as close to the low status possible by beans and only grind what you intend to use each time.
How long does coffee last?
- Brewed Coffee Shelf life – Few hours
- Whole Bean Coffee Shelf life – 1 week
- Instant Coffee Shelf life – 3 months
Reseal a bag, squeeze out all the air, and store in a cool dry place.
And by all means, try freezing it if it works for you.
If you’re interested in getting to know more about the science of coffee, you can browse through our topics here.
We also have a review about the grind and brew coffee maker.