Coffee Storage Lifespan and Preserving Coffee for Later Use.

  • Basics
  • The Complete Bean
  • Ground
  • Hot
  • Cold
  • Poor warehousing
  • Final Thoughts

In the United States, as well as many other countries around the world, coffee is the drink of choice (1).

Numerous coffee and coffee-based drink varieties exist, each with its own distinct flavor profile and level of caffeine intensity. Coffee, in addition to its well-known energizing effects, also contains antioxidants, which may have health benefits (2).

People who consume or prepare coffee may be curious about how long it stays fresh after purchase. There is a dearth of information on how to safely store coffee from a scientific and regulatory perspective. The storage and safety of coffee requires further study.

Using scientific data, advice from coffee company websites, and personal experience, this article explains how to properly store various coffee varieties.

A person drops coffee beans into a large roaster. Don't forget to pin it! Team Dima Sikorski/Stocksy United

Both whole coffee beans and ground coffee can be kept for a long time if they are stored properly. The home brewing varieties of coffee are unlikely to go bad due to mold or other spoilage caused by moisture because coffee is naturally dry.

However, the coffee's freshness depends on how it was made.

Brew-free coffee typically has a longer shelf life than brewed coffee. It also matters where you keep your coffee (counter, pantry, fridge, or freezer).

The quality and freshness of coffee suffers if it is not stored in an airtight container. While storing coffee in the fridge or freezer can diminish its flavor, it can also keep it fresh for months.

Summary

Assuming it has been stored correctly, dry coffee can keep for years. A variety of factors, including the coffee's origin and how it was stored, affect its flavor.

Whole, roasted coffee beans can be kept for a few weeks to several months, and in some cases even years, after roasting.

After being roasted, coffee beans should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and light, until the best-by date.

This can range from a few weeks to months or more, depending on the coffee's manufacturer, packaging, and when it was purchased.

Roasted coffee beans have a shelf life of 1 to 3 weeks after opening the package. When you're done using your coffee, store the beans in an airtight, dark container. The container should be stored at room temperature, far from any sources of heat.

Coffee beans can be stored in the freezer for up to four months if properly packaged and sealed. Before freezing, check to make sure the container is dry. However, freezing isn't the recommended method for maintaining flavor and texture.

Coffee beans stored for longer than these times may lose their flavor or freshness. In most cases, they will simply lose quality without becoming dangerous to eat.

Check for a degassing valve or a relatively recent "roasted on" date to ensure you're getting the freshest beans possible.

Carbon dioxide that forms in roasted coffee is released through degassing valves, which look like small circular vents, in coffee packaging. This can make the food taste better and keep it fresh for longer (3).

Summary

If you buy roasted coffee beans and don't open the bag until the expiration date, the coffee will be fine. Beans can be kept fresh for 1-3 weeks after being opened if stored in an airtight container at room temperature, away from heat and light.

Ground coffee, much like coffee beans, is best consumed before its best-by date.

Keep freshly ground coffee at room temperature in an airtight container once the package has been opened. Ground coffee should be stored in a cool, dark, and dry place. The typical shelf life of ground coffee stored in this manner is between two and three weeks.

Avoid exposing your ground coffee to moisture in a humid environment by storing it in the refrigerator or freezer in airtight containers. It can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks and in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Unlike traditional ground coffee, the shelf life of instant coffee is significantly increased. When kept in a cool, dry, dark place, instant coffee can supposedly keep for two to twenty years.

It's believed that instant coffee, even if opened, can keep for a long time. For the manufacturer's suggestions, peruse the product packaging.

The coffee used in single-cup coffee makers is ground coffee, but it is packaged in a different form called a coffee pod. They won't go bad before their sell-by date.

Keep coffee pods in a dark, cool place, out of direct sunlight. They don't need to be stored in a refrigerator or freezer because of the individual packaging.

Keep in mind that the best-by date for ground coffee is typically after the date on which the beans themselves would still be safe to consume. A more robust and fresh flavor is unlikely.

Summary

Grounded coffee that has not been opened will remain fresh until its expiration date. Coffee that has been opened or freshly ground needs to be stored in an airtight container at room temperature, away from light, heat, and moisture. Consume within two to four weeks for best flavor.

There's a common misconception that coffee only stays fresh for 20-30 minutes in an open cup, and an hour in a sealed container after being brewed.

Coffee, however, can be consumed even if it's been sitting for a while after brewing. Black coffee, or coffee that hasn't had any milk or creamer added to it, can safely sit out on the stovetop for up to four hours after it has been brewed. Within a few hours is optimal for drinking coffee with milk.

Predicting how long brewed coffee will keep is an area where science has yet to fully excel. Personal stories and testimonies are the most common sources for advice to throw out brewed coffee.

Refrigerating brewed coffee in an airtight container can extend its shelf life. A shelf life of 3–4 days is likely to be maintained when stored in this manner. But I doubt it will have a particularly good flavor.

Coffee with milk or cream should be consumed within two hours after it has been brewed and left at room temperature. Keeping it in a sealed container for two days in the fridge is fine. Since milk can spoil, it's important to check the expiration date and smell it before drinking.

Espresso, like coffee, tastes best when consumed shortly after brewing. Alternatively, you can store it in a sealed container at room temperature for a few hours or in the refrigerator for a few days, though the flavor will suffer in both cases.

Summary

As with any brewed beverage, coffee and espresso are at their peak flavor when consumed soon after brewing. In just a few hours, the flavor will begin to fade. Coffee that has been brewed and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator will keep for a few days, but the flavor will diminish.

Unlike freshly brewed hot coffee, cold brew can be stored in the fridge for weeks.

Cold brew concentrate can keep for 7-10 days if stored in the fridge. Cold brew coffee from a coffee shop or one made with a concentrate that has been diluted with water should be consumed within three to four days.

Milk or creamer added to cold brew coffee should be consumed within 2 hours, but the beverage can be refrigerated for up to 4 days in an airtight container. However, it only needs to be refrigerated for a day or two before it goes bad. Before eating, look for mold or a bad odor to indicate spoilage.

Cold brew and brewed coffee can both be frozen, but not in the way you might think.

Put some cooled coffee (cold brew or brewed coffee that has been refrigerated) into an ice cube tray. After the cubes have frozen for a few hours, place them in a freezer-safe bag or container. Consume within two weeks, ideally with some freshly brewed cold brew or melted down.

Summary

Refrigerated cold brew concentrate can be used for a week to ten days. Unless it has milk or creamer added, cold brew that has already been mixed with water can be stored in the same manner and consumed within three to four days.

Even coffee that has gone past its prime can usually be consumed safely if it has been stored properly. Although coffee made with stale beans or grounds won't have the same flavor as freshly roasted coffee, it shouldn't harm your health.

However, before consuming, it is still prudent to check coffee for signs of spoilage. Coffee that has developed mold, changed color, or smells bad should be thrown away.

Further, milk or cream added to coffee should be consumed with caution. Milk should not be left out for more than two hours at room temperature because bacteria can grow in it. There is a higher chance of getting sick from consuming spoiled milk (4).

For this reason, coffee with milk or milk-based products should be consumed no later than 2 hours After that time, unless it has been refrigerated, throw it away.

Summary

Even after the expiration date on a bag of coffee has passed, it may still be safe to consume. However, over time, both its flavor and quality will deteriorate. Coffee should be inspected for signs of spoilage before being consumed, and brewed coffee with milk should be consumed within 2 hours.

Coffee's storage life varies from variety to variety.

Coffee beans and ground coffee both benefit from being stored in airtight containers or in their original packaging away from the elements. In most cases, it's safe to drink coffee that has been stored for a long time; however, the flavor may not compare to that of freshly brewed coffee.

Coffee that has been brewed doesn't keep as long as dry coffee. If you want to enjoy the full flavor, drink it right after brewing. But it keeps in the fridge for a while at different temperatures.

If you're not sure how to store a specific kind of coffee, consult this handy guide. Keep an eye out for spoiled milk or cream in your coffee before you drink it.

As of the most recent checkup, on October 8, 2021

In order to provide you with the most up-to-date information, our team of experts monitors the health and wellness industry constantly and updates articles as new data becomes available.

Oct 8, 2021

Reviewed by a Medical Expert

Dr. Adrienne Seitz S , R D , LDN

Original Copy Edited By

Writer: Anne Arntson

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