It is natural for coffee lovers using ground coffee beans to ask themselves, “How Long Do Coffee Grounds Last.”? If you are getting store ground coffee, you should know the expiration date, so you don’t let your coffee go bad before using it up. And if you use your own freshly ground coffee, you should also know how long you can store coffee in an airtight container before getting stale.
Whether you are storing whole coffee beans or coffee grounds, you should know that your coffee will go stale in the long run. And provided below is a table of types or states of coffee and their shelf-life duration, depending on storage methods;
|Types of coffee||State||Pantry Shelf-Life||Freezer Shelf-life|
|Coffee beans||Sealed |
|8 months to one year from the expiry date|
6 months from day opened
|2-3 years from the expiry date|
2 years from day opened
|Coffee grounds||Sealed |
|3-5 months from the expiry date|
3-5 months once opened
|1-2 years from the expiry date|
3-5 months once opened
|Instant coffee||Sealed |
|2-20 years from the expiry date|
2-20 years once opened
Why does ground coffee go bad?
Coffee is generally made from degradable compounds that inevitably start to degrade over time. Coffee grounds go bad faster than coffee beans because grinding further expands their surface area and exposes them to fast oxidization. But there are also several reasons coffee grounds go stale especially, at a faster rate than they naturally would.
Factors that can cause your coffee grounds to expire or go stale faster than they naturally would include;
As you will see from the table above, your storage method will also determine how long your coffee grounds stay good, depending on whether the pack has already been opened or not. If you want to improve the shelf life of your coffee grounds, then you should keep them in proper storage.
You can store your coffee grounds in tight containers in cool and dry places, where they are less likely to come in contact with moisture, heat, and other elements that will quicken their degradation.
Storing coffee grounds is not enough to guarantee they will last longer; you should also handle your coffee grounds properly when you bring them out for brewing. Ensure you do not expose the pack or container to moisture when scooping the coffee grounds, you need and do not leave the coffee pack opened after you must have taken the quantity you need for your brew.
Exposing your grounds to direct sunlight, oxygen, and heat will only quicken the oxidation process. If you choose to store your coffee in airtight containers, you should make sure these containers are opaque, not clear. And you should ensure that coffee containers are kept in cool, dark places when you are not brewing your coffee.
Your coffee grounds deteriorate faster than whole coffee beans just because they are grounded. Oils in coffee evaporate faster after it has been ground. And the grinding process further exposes the surface area to elements like heat, oxygen, and moisture, which can compromise its taste and quality.
How do I know when my coffee ground is stale?
It might be hard to know when your coffee grounds go bad because, depending on the circumstances, there may not be any physical changes in the coffee grounds.
Where water gets into your ground coffee, molds may develop over time, and when this happens, it is an obvious indication that your coffee is stale, and you should get rid of it. But naturally, the worst that happens to stale coffee is a change in color from the usual dark to a lighter shade of brown. And when this happens, you may not even avert your mind to the physical change in the color of the coffee grounds.
The best way to determine whether your coffee grounds have gone stale or not is to smell the coffee grounds with your nose. Fresh coffee will usually have a powerful and pleasant smell that will no longer be present when your coffee goes stale. And if your coffee grounds smell dull or dusty and do not have a sweet, caramel-like fragrance, you should consider getting rid of it.
In the alternative, if you think your coffee has gone stale. But you cannot determine this through smell; you may brew some to drink to feel the taste. If the taste is not as good as it used to be, you should consider getting rid of it.
Preservation methods to extend the shelf life of coffee grounds
Even though your coffee grounds will end up losing their great smell and taste after a while, it is possible to extend the shelf-life of your coffee grounds with the following preservation methods;
Storing in airtight containers
Moisture is one of the harsh elements you need to keep your coffee grounds away from if you want them to last longer, and the other is direct sunlight. Clear containers do not guarantee an extension of a shelf life because of the risk of exposure to sunlight. Therefore, getting an opaque, airtight container is an effective way to extend the shelf life of your coffee grounds.
When you store your ground coffee in airtight containers, you should ensure you keep them in a cool and dry place. And if you buy your coffee grounds in a vacuum bag, you may store them in containers without taking them out of the vacuum bag. You may also choose to store coffee in the vacuum bags alone as long as you get rid of air in the bags and make sure there are no leaking parts before stashing it away.
Top-quality, airtight containers are readily available for sale on Amazon, and some good options you can get include;
- Coffee Gator Stainless Steel Coffee Grounds and Beans Container Canister with Date-Tracker
- Veken Coffee Canister, Airtight Stainless Steel Kitchen Food Storage Container with Date Tracker and Scoop for Beans, Grounds
Ground coffee stored in the freezer will last longer than one in a pantry or anywhere else in the house, for that matter. But before storing your coffee in the freezer, you should ensure it has been carefully packed so that the grounds themselves are protected from direct contact with ice or water in the freezer. It is best to store your ground coffee first in airtight containers or vacuum-sealed bags before storing them in the freezer.
Buying coffee beans
Another way to ensure you get coffee grounds that last longer is to buy your own coffee beans and grind them yourself. Not only do coffee beans last longer than coffee grounds. But you can also just grind the quantity you need to brew when you need to, and you will not have to deal with storing the coffee as grounds at all.
Do k-cups expire or go bad?
K-cups generally last longer than regular ground coffee because they have been flushed with nitrogen and carefully packaged to eliminate contact with harsh elements like moisture and oxygen. In fact, you will most likely find a “best used by” date on K-cups rather than an expiration date. But this is not to say that k-cups do not expire or go stale.
Partly opened k-cup, for instance, will go stale quicker than the properly sealed ones since they’re exposed to harsh elements upon opening. And generally, the quality of your k-cups also disintegrates over time. The “best used by” date indicates how long your k-cups may maintain their freshness, after which you may start to notice a decline in smell and taste.
You may consume your k-cups even up to a year past the “best used by” date, but one should generally be wary of consuming foods after the indicated dates to minimize the risks of food poisoning.
Why does instant coffee last so long?
You’ve probably noticed by now that like k-cups, instant coffees often have “best used by” dates in place of expiration dates. And this is not unconnected to the fact that they last even longer than K-cups. If properly stored, your instant coffee can last indefinitely, and here is the reason;
Instant coffee basically has no moisture content in it because it consists of dehydrated or freeze-dried coffee crystals. And while they do not taste as great as your ground coffee, they remain safe for consumption beyond the date indicated on their labels. The worst that can happen to properly stored instant coffee is a decline in smell and taste over time.
What to do with expired or stale ground coffee?
If you discover your coffee grounds have gone stale or expired, you do not need to throw them in the trash because there are other uses of old coffee grounds that are no longer being consumed. Some of these uses are;
Effective Garden Fertilizer
Calcium, iron, phosphorus, nitrogen, and chromium are part of the several minerals in coffee grounds that can help your plants grow. Ground coffee can also help absorb heavy metals in soil that can compromise cultivation.
Coffee grounds also attack worms, and worms are really great for your garden. All you need to do is sprinkle coffee grounds you no longer want to brew on the soil surrounding your plants.
Natural body scrub
Coarse ground coffee can be used to exfoliate the skin, to remove dirt and dead skin cells. You may choose to mix the coffee grounds with coconut oil or honey to scrub your body and face. And the caffeine present in coffee will also provide anti-oxidants that will help protect your skin from sunburn.
Scouring pots and pans
Coarse ground coffee is the perfect abrasive for scrubbing your kitchen utensils. You can effectively remove caked-on food from your pans with these grounds by sprinkling them on your kitchen utensils. And clean them like you naturally would. Don’t forget to rinse very well when you are done scrubbing.
The nitrogen in coffee grounds can help you get rid of bad smells in your home, shoes, drawers, and other places you need to deodorize. You can put your coffee grounds in socks as portable fresheners and place them in these locations. And you can use them as hand scrubs to get rid of garlic and onion smells.
Now that you know how long your coffee grounds can last, you can take measures to extend their shelf-life. Or you may choose to buy your own coffee beans, which will last longer than the ground coffee, and grind the portion you need to brew at a go.