When does coffee expire?
On my journey of learning how to make the BEST cup of coffee possible, the first logical step was to find out when does coffee expire? I assumed it would be similar to nuts or other types of beans. They are natural and they have oils which can go rancid over time. This made me think of walnuts. I can never eat them all before the oils in them go rancid. So let’s jump right into it.
When you buy coffee in the grocery store, you will notice that it has a “best before” date and not an “expiration date” on the packaging. This is because coffee beans don’t necessarily go bad unless it gets wet. They are often still good some time after the best before date. They will lose some of their lovable elements and become quite bland, but they won’t go bad for a while. Here’s the run down on timelines for different types of coffee:
Unopened or Sealed
- Ground coffee (past best before/expiry)
- around 3 months, up to 5 months in the pantry
- around 1 year, no more than 2 years in the freezer
- Coffee Beans (past best before date/expiry)
- about 6 months, no more than 9 months in the pantry
- about 2 years, no more than 3 years in the freezer
Opened or Seal Broken
- Ground Coffee
- approximately 3 months, no more than 5 months in the pantry or freezer
- Coffee Beans
- up to 6 months in the pantry
- up to 2 years in the freezer
Since we are on a mission to make the BEST cup of coffee we possibly can, it’s important to note that even though coffee grounds or beans will last a while after the best before date, the longer you wait, the less taste your coffee will have.
When you freeze coffee it will last much longer, but freezing it reduces the natural flavors and aromas.
Storing your coffee
Once you or the manufacturer grind your beans, the grinds immediately begin to lose their freshness. If you are just an average Joe who isn’t concerned about having amazing coffee, then the can it comes in is usually fine, but if you are concerned about making an amazing cup of coffee (and we are), then investing in some good containers is going to be your best bet.
All of the following are the natural enemies of coffee:
- Moisture (think of coffee as Batman, and moisture as the Joker…they don’t play nice)
This means we need to store our coffee in a cool, dry, and dark place in an airtight container. Be careful not to store your coffee somewhere that gets afternoon sun or close to your stove.
Since we’ve learned that coffee loses its freshness immediately after grinding, this indicates to me that we need to learn how to grind our own beans for maximum flavor and freshness.
Can coffee go bad in the freezer?
In my research, I’ve noticed there is some debate as to whether or not freezing coffee is a good idea. The consensus seems to be that the main concern around freezing coffee is that moisture can get into the coffee if the container it is stored in is not properly air tight. Most containers let in a bit of moisture and can ruin your coffee.
It’s best to get a truly airtight container and only take out what you need to use for that day, or the next few days, then replace it back in the freezer quickly.
Some seem to think that freezing coffee zaps the flavor regardless of how well you store it.
Does coffee go bad once it’s brewed?
The information is quite varied in this area. When does coffee expire once it’s brewed? Some say 4-6 hours, some say up to 24 hours before your coffee is no good.
Although they differ in terms of when the coffee is no longer good, they all seem to agree that coffee loses its flavor and is no longer worth drinking after it’s been on the heater for about an hour. The water will begin to evaporate and make the coffee more bitter as the oils become stronger.
You can try to keep your coffee warmer longer with an insulated container for best results.
If you try to reheat your coffee, it will be drinkable, but not as delicious as when you first brewed it. It could taste burned or stale.
Once brewed, you should consume the coffee within 4 to 6 hours.
Can we just all agree right now that we are learning to make a fantastic cup of coffee and that it will be so good that we won’t need to worry about it lasting more than 6 hours because we will have eagerly consumed it long before then?
What we’ve learned
In our quest for the best cup of coffee we’ve gather enough information here to know the following:
- We need to get a grinder and grind our own coffee to get the best results.
- If we plan to freeze our beans, we will need a really good airtight container.
- We may need to do a test to see if freezing the coffee will affect the taste significantly (science experiment time, cue mad scientist laughter, mwahahahah)
- When does coffee go bad? Generally speaking, don’t buy in bulk, and brew it shortly after you grind it. For best results, grind what you need for that day.
Kris is a freelance writer, blogger, and virtual assistant that lives in the Great White North, eh!? She loves kayaking, coffee, and her two poorly behaved little dogs.