Does coffee get old, or does it have to meet the shelf life / ‘best before’ date at the back of the pack?

It is always the big question you ask yourself when you pull your old stiff coffee out of the cupboard which has been in the same place for 1 year and been dusted.

But worry no more! You get the answer below!…

bad coffee

Can coffee get too old?

Coffee does not necessarily get worse. A few weeks after opening, the taste starts to disappear, and it is no longer fresh.

Many factors help determine this, such as the roasting, how it is packed and where the coffee is stored.

If you have found a coffee that has been stored in the closet for a few months, you have probably wondered; “Can coffee get bad?”.

Like tea, coffee does not get bad unless it is stored in a humid environment.

But the fact that the coffee has not been ruined, however, does not guarantee that the cup of coffee you brew will actually taste good – and that’s a whole other story.

How long can I use the coffee after opening the packaging?

The coffee can last for about 14 days after the packaging is broken if stored in a dark and cool place.

After that, it will begin to lose flavour and quality.

However, it must be said that you can safely drink it if no mould is present.

The mould occurs if the coffee is stored in places where it gets moisture.

How long can coffee last?

Coffee shelf life depends on several factors such as shelf life, method of manufacture and how the coffee was stored.

So, how long can coffee stick to its ‘best before’ date?

When properly stored, you can see in the overview below how long coffee can immediately stick to its ‘best before’ date… (Remember, however, to always evaluate yourself before sipping a litre of coffee)

Coffee expiration date

Unopened (after ‘best before’ date)Store dry / coolFreezer
Ground coffee3-5 months1-2 years
coffee beans6-9 months2-3 years
Instant coffee2-20 yearsunlimited
OpenedStore dry / coolFreezer
Ground coffee3-5 months3-5 months
coffee beans6 months2 years
Instant coffee2-20 yearsunlimited

How do I know if the coffee is bad?

If coffee is stored in a humid environment, it will absorb some of the water and go bad in days.

If this has happened, you will probably see mould in the container, and the only thing to do in that situation is to throw the coffee in the trash.

How to store coffee?

how to store your coffee beans

As a rule of thumb, coffee should be stored in a cool, dry place.

A “pantry” will probably be the best place to store coffee for a long period of time.

If you have used the coffee, you will probably choose to keep it in a cupboard in the kitchen, and that’s fine too.

Unless you are a coffee roaster who always wants the best possible taste and aroma, but if you were one, you probably wouldn’t read this.

… but how do I store the coffee?

If you would like to keep coffee beans fresh longer, you may want to consider freezing it but be aware that it will lose some of its flavours due to the freezing process.

But let’s face it – after all, most people don’t bother to get their coffee beans in the freezer.

When it comes to ground coffee and instant coffee, it is a good idea to store it in an airtight container.

This way, you want to make sure it doesn’t get moisture. If you buy it in a can or glass, leave it in there as in most cases these containers are good enough, especially if you do not plan to store the opened coffee for a really long time.

I do need to mention that without a doubt, by far the best option is only to buy small bags of coffee at a time, and grind when you’re making coffee.

This way, you do not have any issues regarding storage of your beans, and also you will always get the best possible taste, simply because the oils in the beans are fresh and have not been broken down, from contact with the air.

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