How Long Do Coffee Beans & Ground Coffee Last
Around 160 million 60 KG bags of coffee are consumed worldwide annually, making it one of the top beverages on the planet. Lots of people enjoy instant coffee, and drinking out in coffee shops as cafe culture grows in popularity in many countries.
These days though, you don’t have to compromise on the coffee you drink at home choosing between an expensive cup at a cafe, or a weak watery instant cup at home. You don’t even have to buy an expensive coffee machine to get your yummy brew either.
You can enjoy freshly ground, delicious coffee at home by purchasing rich coffee beans and grinding them yourself. They can then be brewed with a french press or an Aeropress for a steaming cup of tasty coffee right in your home kitchen.
“The powers of a man’s mind are directly proportioned to the quantity of coffee he drinks.” – Sir James Mackintosh
Of course, the coffee that you grind needs to be as fresh as possible to taste as delicious as possible. Knowing how long beans and ground coffee last is essential, so you don’t waste your coffee supplies, and so you don’t consume coffee that is past its best.
Read Our Best Manual Coffee Grinders Guide
To help you keep your beans and coffee grounds fresh, here are our top tips:
The Importance Of What You Start With
Starting with incredibly fresh, recently roasted, high-quality beans and a great coffee grinder are really important when it comes to the freshness of your ground coffee. Without these, your coffee is unlikely to last as long. That could be because the beans haven’t been kept well before you buy them, or because the grounds you create are uneven or otherwise inferior, making you less likely to use them in the end.
How Long Do Coffee Beans Stay Fresh?
Coffee beans once roasted, if purchased fresh will only last for a week, perhaps a fortnight tops, if they are not preserved in any way. This is because they continue to lose carbon dioxide (which they do naturally after roasting) and they absorb oxygen, losing their fresh taste.
If they are placed in a clean, dry, airtight container they can last for around a month. The container though, to keep your beans fresh, must be:
- Free from any strong scents or smells, which can be soaked up by the coffee
- Unable to let light in as light exposure can change the way coffee beans taste
- Away from any strong heat, cold or draughts
By storing your beans properly, they will stay fresher for up to a month, although, in general, the sooner you use them the fresher they will be.
Signs Coffee Beans Have Gone Bad
If you buy freshly roasted coffee beans and store them properly, there is no reason for them to go bad prematurely. However, it is good to know the signs so that you don’t end up using nasty beans and getting a horrible surprise when you take that first sip.
Here are some common signs coffee beans have gone bad:
- Mold is growing on the beans
- The beans are sticking together
- A bad smell is coming from the beans
- A lack of strong coffee aroma comes from the beans
If for any reason you do accidentally consume coffee made from beans gone bad, don’t worry. Although your coffee won’t taste great, you are unlikely to become unwell drinking coffee made from stale beans.
Freezing Coffee Beans
Some people choose to freeze their coffee beans in airtight freezer pouches until they are ready to be used. When coffee beans are frozen they stay fresh for months, rather than weeks. The only issue with this kind of storage is that the beans may not taste as fresh as if they weren’t frozen, as this method of storage still affects the bean freshness to some degree. This is the case even when you remove a few beans at a time to use.
Some people do like to freeze their coffee beans though, for organization or prepping. If you’d like to know more, this handy video shows you how to do it properly.
How Long Does Ground Coffee Stay Fresh?
After you grind your coffee beans they will stay fresh for about a week, perhaps two. Ideally, though, you will store your beans in an airtight container (as mentioned above) and only grind the amount you need every day. This will result in the freshest cup of coffee, rather than grinding all your beans in one go and using the grounds daily.
How To Keep Ground Coffee Fresh
The best way to keep ground coffee fresh is the same as with coffee beans, as mentioned above. You can also freeze coffee grounds as you can coffee beans, but again, you can expect to lose some flavor by doing this over time.
Vacuum-Sealed Coffee Beans & Grounds
For long-term storage of coffee beans and grounds, you could consider vacuum-sealed storage in either the freezer or the cupboard. Vacuum-sealed storage can increase the shelf life of the beans or grounds by up to two years when frozen. When it is vacuum-sealed and not frozen, it can still last up to six months longer than in a standard airtight container.
This method works well for coffee you don’t plan to use for a while after purchasing.
The Last Drop
With the information above, hopefully, you now feel a little more ready and able to store your coffee beans and grounds so they stay as fresh as possible. The trick is to ensure that they are as free from oxygen as possible and to use up your beans and grounds as quickly as possible after purchasing. It might feel like extra effort, but the result is a more delicious, fresh-tasting, aromatic coffee that starts your day off right.