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Does Ground Coffee Go Bad – How Long Do Coffee Beans Last?

Let us be real here, who doesn’t actually drink coffee? It’s not only instrumental for waking up to a ridiculous number of people as well as one of the most popular beverages of the civilized world, but it is also quite delicious.

Or at least it should be when the drink is properly prepared and the beans are taken care of correctly. Having said that however, does coffee actually ever go bad? Does it have an expiration date? Could it potentially be dangerous to drink past its written expiration date?

The mere fact that most of us can even ask this question points to the fact that for a drink we would commonly claim to know all about, we aren’t as familiar as we had thought.

does coffee go bad

Does Coffee Go Bad?

Seeing as the basics are from where most people would typically agree to start, let us delve into the coffee bean itself.

Because whilst remaining nothing but the raw material, it is where we must begin to understand what gives coffee its freshness. Now the coffee bean is not an element, obviously, and it’s actually composed of many different biomolecules: Mainly carbohydrates, amino acids and lipids. All of which follow different rules regarding degradation and could pose a more complex prospect when analyzed as a whole.

Safe to say is that as any biological compound these are bound to undergo physical and chemical chases as they age. eventually posing as a dangerous element to the human body if consumed.

All this is through the natural process of oxidation, which as those of you who know your chemistry might remember, refers to the effects seen on a particular compound when this is continuously exposed to oxygen.

Carbohydrates tend to go stale, lipids go rancid and some more volatile molecules just straight up evaporate and vanish. It is hence no surprise that the continued affectation of all the aforementioned biomolecules can drastically affect the quality of your coffee beans over an extended period of time, by extension vastly decreasing the freshness of your coffee and your enjoyment of it.

There’s no evading neither all of this exposition just as one can’t escape the deterioration of biological compounds, so let’s just get the cat out of the bag already: Coffee does go bad with time but given the complexity of the biomolecules that make it up.

It performs vastly different under differing circumstances; you might want to watch out specifically for the humidity and temperature present on the environment. So can coffee expire, well yes it can. Can expired coffee make you sick, yes it can.

How Long Do Coffee Beans Last? – Can Expired Coffee Make You Sick?

Putting any amount of research into the subject will quickly lead you to the realization that the real question is not whether coffee beans go bad or not. but rather how much their quality can be preserved and up to what point do these can actually become hazardous.

Because depending on their smell, some coffee beans can be taken after their respective expiration date with no adverse effects but its important to remember that pretty much any biological compound, theoretically even honey, will become detrimental to one’s health should enough time go by.

So without beating around the bush the conservation of coffee boils down to two fundamental questions: Do you want to preserve its flavor? Or do you want to preserve it for as long as possible? Because sad as it may be for some we can’t have everything in life folks, asking for our coffee to last for the longest of time will inevitably compromise its flavor apparently.

do coffee grounds go bad

How To Store Coffee Beans?

The advise most of us are bound to receive from a true coffee connoisseur is to store the coffee in an airtight container somewhere cool, dry, and dark.

As this is the storage method bound to preserve most of its freshness and flavor for up to nine months in the case of whole coffee beans, a pretty long time if you ask me given the rate at which most of us actually consume coffee and our chosen form for stockpiling.

My grandma did used to say we would first get our electricity cut before we stopped buying coffee beans for those warm Sunday mornings in particular.

How Long Does Ground Coffee Last – How Long Are Coffee Beans Good For

In the case of ground coffee it can be safely stored this way up until a few months past its expiration date but it is with instant coffee that things can start to get genuinely ridiculous, as it has been proven to last upwards of twenty years this way without any adverse effects. Twenty full years, I sincerely doubt any of us are going to need to store our coffee for any longer than that.

Putting all of those coffee experts aside for a moment and pretending we don’t care that much about the actual flavor of the coffee, for long is it possible to preserve it without any adverse effects?

If you were to go into a bunker and needed to stockpile as much coffee as humanly possible for those cold mornings in the post apocalyptic world, just for how long would your wakeup routine be facilitated by caffeine?

Well, potentially a very long time. Freezing is the storage method that ensures the longest preservation time, as you have probably already deduced. The issue is that it completely destroys the coffee bean’s flavor and sucks any potential freshness out of them, putting that behind us however the cold can keep both your whole and ground coffee relatively untouched for anywhere between one and three years.

A pretty long time even at the lowest, the time frame is in place given that some other factors play a part as well as the slightly different effect refrigeration has on the two.

Does Coffee Expire?

Keeping up the trend as the latest and seemingly longer lasting form of coffee, the instant version gets even more insane under refrigeration and can last for a pretty much undetermined amount of time given you don’t mind how tasteless it could turn out by the end. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if refrigerated instant coffee ended up becoming like the honey found in some ancient pharaohs’ tombs, eternal and never spoiling.

One additional fact that is sure to come in handy pertains to the fact that there’s no difference between regular and decaffeinated coffee when it comes to spoilage time, so that’s one thing less for you to worry about.

Whoever said that balance is always best was truly a wise individual but I’m certain not even he or she could have predicted those words would also describe one of the best ways to store/brew coffee should you be looking for a middle ground in between flavor and longevity; it is difficult to imagine someone who truly doesn’t care in the slightest about the flavor of a beverage he or she is about to consume after all. 

This dandy little method consists of storing coffee as whole beans in an airtight dry container which would then be stored in your freezer respectively, it would then be advised for you to take only the amount of beans you plan on using for any one occasion at a time and grind them in the spot.

This method is actually great as it allows you to extend the coffee’s life to its maximum while also allowing for the oils that give it its flavor to remain mostly untouched, so whilst the degradation due to the freezing process is inevitable it is bound to remain rather tasteful until the brewing time actually arrives.

The quality of the coffee produced through this method will be at the very least comparable to fresh coffee, though the possibility of it actually surpassing it is slim at best. Nothing beats freshly toasted ground coffee.

does coffee beans go bad

Can Expired Coffee Make You Sick? – Do Coffee Grounds Expire?

That’s great and all I can almost hear you lot say. but how exactly do we know until what point it is safe to consume our coffee?

Beans tend to maintain their elegant appearance regardless of their age and I’m not about to try it just to figure it out. Well, it’s all in the smell actually. Coffee that has gone bad will be close to odorless as the oils that give it its unique flavor will all have already washed away into the air.

The continued absence of these will also start to change the color of the beans given after a certain time; going from its steep dark tint to a much lighter brown.

Should the coffee have lost only it’s aroma it will remain fairly safe to consume even if its flavor will be very lacking, once its color starts to significantly change however it is strongly advised not to consume it As discussed earlier the spoilage of coffee depends on many different factors that anyone is bound to not be aware of at any given time, so whilst not an absolute rule the recommendations are above should be taken as a warning.

There are many dangers stemming from the consumption of spoiled food and at the end of the day one can always acquire more coffee, so be sure not to jeopardize your health. So can you drink expired coffee, probally not. What happens if you drink expired coffee, well you will get sick.

spoiled coffee

Do Coffee Grounds Go Bad – How To Find The Perfect Time To Drink Coffee

Now that we know all coffee does spoil and does so at different rates, our attention should naturally be put in trying to maximize the flavor; hence ensuring the best experience possible within reason.

So when is it exactly that coffee is at its best? And how we can be sure to get the timing right with different storage methods as well as the three main states coffee can be stored in? Well, it definitely isn’t as hard as one might think should we not delve into the rabid hole that are different coffee variants and brewing methods.

In actuality, even the more discussed and glossed over ideas regarding the subject can be summed up in a few key points any coffee lover would be encouraged to remember.

First, there’s no simple secret formula in order to ensure the best possible moment at any given time; the peak flavor will vary wildly depending on the type of beans used the roast, and the brewing method utilized. So unless you dedicate a lot of time to identify the particular specifics that make a phenomenal coffee so great you aren’t going to ensure the possible beverage regardless of the age and storage method chosen for your coffee.

Second, it might initially sound a bit contradictory to the previous statement but while no simple secret formula exists it is a commonly known fact that fresh coffee is the best.

Recently grounded coffee is pretty good but if you have a grinder and can actually pulverize it up right before brewing you are fated to produce the best possible result with the beans you are utilizing. So can coffee spoil, yes it can. If you’re wondering how long is coffee goof for or how long does whole bean coffee last, well a while. How long does coffee last and do coffee beans go bad, well they do but they last for a while.

does coffee expire

The oils contained within these will start to evaporate the second you start to grind them so it’s a safe bet regardless of brewing methods and coffee variants, hence why those of us that really care about attaining that peak flavor get the whole beans.

Third and possibly most importantly, seeing as the quality of coffee decreases over time regardless of the storage method you will want to stick as close to the roasting date and remain as far from the expiration date as possible to ensure the best possible flavor.

The exploration dates are generally set roughly a year after the beans were initially roasted so while it might sound obvious it is still important to remember, the sooner you consume a product the better.

There is however some more depth to this concept seeing as most industrialized packaging is filled with hydrogen instead of oxygen as means of creating a manageable vacuum, meaning that so long as your coffee remains sealed and out of oxygen’s reach it won’t actually spoil at an accelerated rate.

It is hence strongly advised for you to not unseal any coffee you don’t plan on consuming in the foreseeable future, just do bear in mind though that even hydrogen can’t completely halt its spoilage either.

Linking back with the last point discussed even, the best possible way of storing coffee regarding flavor is in a glass container at room temperature which is away from humidity and sealed in a vacuum. The lack of oxygen within the recipient will give space for the essence of coffee to not be carried away by the wind, all its smell and freshness will not only be given space to be exhumed but also remain out of oxygen’s reach.

How Long Does Coffee Stay Good – How To Make Your Coffee Last

One useful trick that might not initially come to mind when learning about this is that since coffee spoilage is directly proportional to its contact with oxygen storing it with the less possible exposed surface area will actually reduce its spoilage rate, this is the reasoning behind whole beans actually lasting longer than ground coffee when under identical circumstances.

But can also be applied in a broader scale when it comes to the recipient one chooses to store his or her coffee onto, a long thin tube is ideal in this regard as it limits the exposure to oxygen to just one of its two geometrical faces. Anyone who is even moderately familiar with spices will already know this much as these operate under the same exact principle but for the rest of us. it’s quite the handy detail to keep in mind. How to tell if coffee is bad, well the smell. Coffee expiration date can vary from coffee to coffee.

Tips To Make Your Coffee Last Longer

Storing ground coffee in the freezer yields a much better result of what you might actually think, given everything that has been said above. The cold won’t actually freeze the coffee so it will retain most of its freshness whilst making available for usage without the need for defrosting.

Some advise regarding the steps following after the actual brewing pertain to the consumption of coffee, as this should ideally be drank in between four to six hours after brewing. Any longer than that will cause the freshness to vanish away as the oils are evaporated, specially when it starts to cool down and re-heating is not recommended because it further breaks down the product. Utilizing a thermo in order to contain the lukewarm temperature for as long as possible is a much better option as even when it starts to cool down its aroma and flavor won’t be able to escape, smelling coffee is just as important to the actual experience of its enjoyment as drinking it.

In spite of all this careful advise and allegories however, we all know how life tends to be. Do we not? People screw up and our coffee can sometimes either turn bad or go cold far from our attention. You will be glad to know then than even when this happens the situation mustn’t necessarily be a disaster, coffee can be salvaged and life can in fact go on.

One useful but admittedly unconventional use for coffee pertains gravy, so pour it into some good old ice cube trays and utilize it as a brewing agent once it has completely frozen. You simply need to throw them into the gravy by that point.

Or in case you’re feeling lazy you can always pour the cooled coffee into a blender along with some vanilla ice cream milk and some vanilla extract; whip out a spoon after that and just call it a day. if you want more guides, check out best Italian coffee guide, and best coffee scales guide!

About David Dewitt

Hi, my name is David and I come from Columbus, Ohio. I am a amateur photographer, and a coffee lover. I love to write, and don't mind me a cup of joe!