Sure, you know to throw out rancid, old coffee, but are the java beans in your kitchen actually fresh coffee? Before you pour your next cup of coffee, keep these details in mind to make sure you’re drinking the freshest, best tasting brew.

Let’s begin by answering these questions: Does coffee go bad? Does coffee expire like some items in your kitchen do?

The answer is no, coffee does not actually go bad, and a “bad” cup of coffee won’t make you sick. But, if coffee grounds or beans get wet, then yes, they can’t be reused and need to be tossed.

Coffee is a dry, packaged food and like most dry goods, there is no firm expiration date to keep in mind. Coffee beans are a shelf-stable dry good when stored in the right conditions.

But, here’s the bad news: Coffee past the expiration date deteriorates, and coffee that has not been stored properly loses its flavor and freshness.

Coffee lovers are finicky about quality, freshness, and taste. Is there anything that will ruin a Monday morning quicker than a sub-par coffee? We think not. So, we’ve compiled a handy guide on how long to keep coffee, how to store it, and more.

How Long Does Coffee Last in All its Forms?

Is the shelf life of coffee beans different from the expiration of pre-ground coffee? Does the storage temperature make a difference? Once brewed, how long does coffee keep? Let’s break it down. Here’s how to maximize the freshness and overall flavor of your brew by knowing how long to keep it in the kitchen.

Whole Beans

Whole bean coffee lasts the longest of all. It’s good practice to keep beans whole until brewing for ultimate freshness. When you grind beans, grind just what you’ll use for brewing. Whole bean coffee should be used within three or four weeks.

Ground Coffee

Grind just the amount of coffee needed daily for best results. If you purchase ground beans, it’s best to use it within two weeks of opening.

Single-Serve Coffee Pods

Coffee Pods are often some of the worst offenders as they’ll sit on the shelves or in a warehouse for months. While they are very rare and hard to find – we recommend buying K-cup pods from companies that roast & deliver the coffee while it’s fresh. Atlas Coffee Club has a Coffee Pods Subscription and you can really taste the difference the freshness makes.

Brewed Coffee

Drink up! Once brewed, your cup of joe should be consumed the same day if you’re keeping it at room temperature, preferably within 12 hours. Brewed coffee can be stored for three to four days in the refrigerator.

Instant Coffee

If you must drink instant coffee (perhaps you’re in a pinch), use it within two weeks of opening.

What Factors Degrade Coffee Beans?How long does coffee last? Coffee beans scattered around mug

Coffee’s best friends are darkness and cool temperatures, so there are a few things to avoid when storing coffee. Improperly stored beans will lose freshness and its high-quality taste quickly. Here are four of coffee’s worst enemies:

1. Oxygen

Oxygen causes stale coffee beans. Coffee beans and oxygen do not mix well, and the beans will degrade in only a matter of days when exposed to open air.

2. Light

Coffee beans look really pretty when stored in glass jars, don’t they? But here’s the thing: Glass jars let in light, and roasted coffee beans go stale when stored in direct light.

3. Moisture

Exposure to humid conditions will make coffee beans go bad. Keep roasted coffee beans in a cool, dry place.

4. Heat

Unless coffee is being brewed, it doesn’t like heat. If it’s is exposed to heat, the beans will lose flavor.

How to Properly Store Coffee Beans

Are you storing coffee the right way? Now that we’ve taken a look at what makes coffee beans deteriorate, let’s dive into how to store coffee the right way.

1. Properly seal your coffee: Always store coffee in an airtight container. An opaque container is recommended so that no light can penetrate. Keep the container in a cool, dark cabinet.

2. Purchase the right amount: Don’t buy more coffee than you can use within a few weeks. Buying too much can lead to waste, because, as we know, freshness does not last more than three to four weeks. Sign up for a subscription service so you can put your coffee purchasing on autopilot and discover a world of coffee fresh at your doorstep.

3. Keep heat and humidity low: Coffee is best stored in a cabinet rather than on a countertop, because cabinets are generally a cooler temperature.

Freezing Coffee Beans: Is it a Good Idea?Mug full of coffee beans

We know that the main enemies of coffee are air, light, moisture, and heat, so freezing it for long-term storage sounds like a decent idea. But are there any downsides to putting beans or grounds in the freezer?

Yes. The reviews for freezing coffee are mixed at best, so freezing your beans is not recommended.

Coffee is porous and soft, so it absorbs other aromas easily. This means that whatever smells are lingering in your freezer can be absorbed by the coffee. So, if you have frozen leftovers in your freezer, that thawed coffee might brew a funky taste.

Imagine freezing a loaf of freshly baked bakery bread. Sounds like a shame, doesn’t it? Fresh bread that is stored in the freezer will never smell or taste the same once it has been frozen and thawed. Sure, it will still be safe to eat, but fresh would be incomparably better.

The same is true for coffee. You could freeze it, but it will never smell or taste the same. We know that freshness is imperative for quality coffee, so don’t freeze it.

Now, what if you happened to come into some bulk coffee beans that you would never consume before they go stale? Well, if you absolutely must freeze beans, then keep them in unopened vacuum-sealed packaging or in a very airtight container. When you are ready to use them, thaw them to room temperature.

Is the refrigerator a better option to store coffee beans? It would seem as though the cold, dark climate of the fridge would be good for grounds and beans, but it isn’t. Refrigerated coffee grounds and beans age faster, which means the freshness and taste decreases. In the fridge, coffee grounds and beans condensate, so the flavorful oils of the coffee are pushed to the surface.

Never Worry About Stale Coffee Beans Ever Again

A Look At Peru Atlas Coffee Club

One of the best ways to ensure the coffee in your kitchen is always the freshest is to buy just enough. Don’t purchase more than you will use within a few weeks. You can make certain that you will be consistently brewing the most flavorful and fresh cups of coffee by establishing a coffee-buying routine.

With an Atlas subscription, you can choose a schedule that works for you. Single origin coffee is delivered fresh, without any effort on your part, and in an amount that works for your routine.

Instead of potentially over-buying your coffee, get just what you need, every month. Surprise your taste buds with a new coffee from a different country. And, because we know how important fresh coffee is, we roast it within 24 hours of being shipped to you, which beats any coffee grounds sitting on a grocery store shelf.

Each month of the subscription features a new coffee country and a new freshly roasted bag of beans, along with tasting notes, a postcard, and brewing tips — the world of coffee delivered fresh to your door.

About The Author

An entrepreneur and musician, Michael quit his full-time job in the corporate world to assemble a band of fellow storytellers, travelers, and coffee-lovers as enthusiastic as himself to share the unique stories and coffee from around the world.