If you are someone that enjoys brewing your own coffee at home rather than picking it up from a Starbucks or local coffee shop, you probably have a bag of coffee beans in your kitchen cabinet or refrigerator. If you aren’t a regular coffee drinker that enjoys the occasional cup, you probably see those beans and wonder, can coffee turn bad and how can you keep it fresh for longer? How long does coffee last? These questions do not have a straightforward yes or no answer.
Below we will discuss everything about how can coffee go bad and how to store it properly to avoid such a situation:
How Does Coffee Get Spoiled?
Coffee goes bad through the process of oxidation. Oxidation is the process where oxygen molecules interact with the various compounds like lipids, carbohydrates, and amino acids in coffee, creating a different compound – How to Brew Low Acid Coffee for Upset Stomachs
This process happens when beans or ground coffee is interacting with air. The longer the coffee is exposed to air, the quicker it will oxidize. Other factors that speed up the process of oxidation are light, moisture, and heat.
These factors all play a vital role in speeding up the process where your beans or ground coffee goes bad by acting as a catalyst during the process. To slow down this chemical process, a lot of care needs to be taken to control these factors; this means proper storage of your coffee beans or ground coffee is vital to ensure that it does not go bad – What is Coffee Bloom? – Does it Affect Taste and Aroma?
How Do You Keep Ground Coffee and Beans Fresh?
There is only one way to store coffee and keep it aromatic and that is when it is stored properly. You need to recognize all the factors that affect coffee and its freshness to be able to understand how to keep it fresh.
Coffee is susceptible to heat, light, moisture, and air so you need to be able to control these factors in order to keep your coffee fresher for longer. So, keeping the beans in a dark, cool, and dry place will make your coffee last longer!
Should You Refrigerate Coffee?
Your fridge has a lot more moisture and has a more varying temperature than your freezer. It is not recommended that you store your coffee in the fridge.
The refrigerator in a house is opened and closed often with varying amounts of food which can affect the internal temperature. This fluctuation can create moisture which can lead to mold when you store coffee in the fridge.
Should Coffee be in the Freezer?
If you have a large amount of coffee that you want to store, you can freeze it to keep the coffee usable for a few years. This is a possible way to store coffee but it is not recommended because the coffee will start to lose its flavor.
Beans or ground coffee stored in the freezer might start to create moisture because of varying temperatures as the freezer is opened and closed which can speed up the oxidation process. Of course, freezing coffee is better than leaving it in the kitchen cabinet to store ground coffee or beans. Experts recommend that you shouldn’t buy coffee in bulk in the first place, but rather on a weekly basis to get the most flavor from your favorite whole bean coffee.
Does Ground Coffee Stay Fresh Longer Than Beans?
No, beans definitely stay fresh for longer than ground coffee. While whole beans of coffee can last up to a year in the kitchen cabinet, ground coffee stored in the exact same way will last you less than half that time. It is best to purchase whole bean coffee instead of ground coffee and grind them fresh daily to get the tastiest cup of coffee.
How Long Does Ground Coffee Stay Fresh After Opening?
If you store your ground coffee properly (in an airtight, opaque container away from the heat in your kitchen cabinet), your opened coffee grounds can stay fresh anywhere from 3 to 6 months. The freshness of your coffee will always depend on your storage.
Can You Drink It After It Expired?
Coffee does not really have an expiration date, but rather a best before date. Best before means that the coffee will taste its freshest before the date mentioned on the pack.
So, the short answer is yes, you can drink expired coffee and it is safe to drink as long as there’s no mold. But do not expect to taste an aromatic and flavorful cup of Joe. Your coffee will most likely taste like a watered-down stale cup of something that tastes like wet cardboard or loses its flavor.
How Long is it Good after the Expiration Date?
You can keep drinking your cup of coffee as long as you think it tastes fine. Grind up your beans only in the batches that you will use to be able to store it for longer.
If you store coffee near moisture, then it will grow mold and you should just throw it out. However, if it is stored properly, and you don’t think it tastes stale or tasteless, by all means, continue to drink it until you reach that point.
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Can You Get Sick from Drinking Old Coffee?
If you’re drinking a cup of coffee, and the taste isn’t too off even though it is past the expiration date, don’t worry – you’re not going to get sick. The coffee will just taste a bit stale or flavorless, which isn’t a risk for your health. Coffee can go bad but that usually means that it won’t taste delicious anymore.
Mold and Bacteria in Coffee
However, mold or bacteria on old coffee beans might get you sick! If you don’t store coffee properly, it can grow bacteria and mold. Have a look at the coffee beans and make sure they look ok, and the taste isn’t rancid.
How Long is the Shelf Life for Coffee?
This answer isn’t black and white. The shelf life greatly depends on how you store your coffee and whether it is instant, ground or whole coffee beans.
Instant Coffee – Check the expiration date of your coffee
For instant coffee, you can rely on the expiration date on the bottle, but technically you can drink it way past that also; instant coffee doesn’t really go bad.
Ground Coffee – Extend the Freshness
If you store the ground up coffee in the cabinet, it will stay fresh for 3 to 6 months regardless of it being opened or unopened. If you want to extend the shelf life of ground coffee, store it unopened in the freezer for up to 2 years.
Whole Beans – Stays fresh the longest
Beans of coffee can be stored for a long time. If you keep them in the freezer unopened, they can last you up to 3 years, and 2 years for an opened bag! In the kitchen cabinet, unopened beans and coffee lasts up to 9 months and 6 months for an opened bag.
Other variables will affect the shelf life including how and where you store your grounds or coffee beans. Extend the shelf life of your coffee by keeping them at controlled temperatures away from light in airtight containers. Coffee beans and ground coffee will stay fresh for longer if you store it in the best possible way.
How Can You Store It?
There are a few different factors you need to investigate when you are storing your coffee; atmosphere, light, temperature, and moisture. You want to store your beans or ground coffee in an airtight, dark, cool, and moisture-free place to maintain its freshness.
Storing beans – Coffee Beans will stay fresh for longer
For coffee beans, if you buy them in bulk, keep the unopened bags in the freezer – you should make sure that the freezer isn’t opened and closed too often because the fluctuations in the temperature can cause moisture to be created in the bags and result in stale coffee.
Experts say that the bags that coffee comes in are not the best for storage even in the freezer. Take out the beans and put them into smaller, good quality airtight bags and then put them in the freezer.
What kind of container to use for storing coffee grounds and beans?
If you aren’t buying your beans in bulk (which is recommended for fresher coffee), store them in an opaque and completely airtight container in a kitchen cabinet. Make sure the cabinet is not close to any heat source like the over or stove so the temperature stays cool and around the room temperature.
It is recommended that you do not buy ground coffee in bulk as it tends to lose its freshness quicker than beans and you end up with stale coffee. Coffee grounds should be stored in the same way as coffee beans. Place them in a truly opaque airtight container away from any heat so the coffee will stay fresh for longer.
Can You Store it in a Mason Jar?
Mason jars are made of glass and have a tightly sealed screw-top cap. This means they are able to keep any air out of the jar making them airtight. This is the most important factor when you’re looking for a place to store coffee.
Mason jars work well for storage of both coffee beans and ground coffee. One thing you could do to upgrade your mason jar for better storage is to paint it black; this will make sure that no light reaches the coffee, making it stay fresher for longer.
Final Thoughts on How to keep Coffee fresh
Though coffee doesn’t necessarily go bad, it doesn’t stay fresh with its signature aroma and crisp taste forever. You need to consume it while it’s fresh to be able to enjoy it at its best. To keep it at its best, you need to store and care for the coffee beans and coffee grounds properly or you’ll end up with old coffee that tastes stale. Of course, this only goes for fresh coffee; it is a completely different story with instant coffee and with pre-brewed coffee.
With instant coffee, you will be able to find the expiration date right on the bottle. As for brewed coffee, you will be able to taste the process of oxidization and staleness within about 30 minutes after brewing! Brew your cup of coffee fresh with aromatic coffee grounds and drink it hot.
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