Coffee is easily one of the most popular drinks in the world and comes in many different forms. It can be difficult, though, to know the best way to tell if your product is still useable in order to get the perfect tasting brew. Of course most pre-packaged bags will provide a use by date, but this isn’t necessarily always available or can be questionable, so how long does coffee last?
How Long Is Coffee Good For?
With so many different ways coffee is prepared, there isn’t simply one answer to go by when asking how long coffee can last. The best way to answer the question is by taking the different preparation techniques, and how that affects the shelf-life. Coffee is a natural product and, as such, has a limited time during which the flavors will develop as intended.
The three different forms you can buy it in determine how long it can be kept, and will usually provide a use by date on the packaging. This use by date is advisory though, and your coffee will usually be fine far beyond what is recommended. Freezing the product can extend its life as well, and doesn’t actually cause the bean to freeze, which means it can be used as soon as you take it out.
You can quickly check your coffee to see if it has gone bad by looking at the color and by smelling it. It will never become awful, but may lose the strength of its color and potency of its smell, something that will result in a weaker tasting drink.
Let’s take a look at the three different forms that are typically bought in stores, and how they affect how long the coffee will last.
1. Whole Beans
Buying coffee in whole beans gives you the product as close to fresh as possible. In this form and in a sealed package the beans will be fine to use for up to 9 months beyond the use by date. If you store the beans in the freezer they will be ok to use for up to three years. Coffee beans that are in an opened package will stay good for up to six months and be storable in the freezer for up to 2 years.
2. Ground Coffee
The process of grinding the coffee beans begins the process of releasing all of the compounds you need for your drink, and therefore reduces the shelf life in comparison with the whole bean.
A pre-packaged ground coffee will still be good for a perfect brew for up to 5 months beyond the printed date, or up to 2 years if kept in the freezer. Once opened, though, ground coffee will only stay good for 5 months (even if stored in the freezer) before you need to get some more.
3. Instant Coffee
Instant coffee provides the less-fulfilling drink out of the choices here, but is brilliant at staying viable for long periods of time. This is, of course, due to the nature of the preservation chemicals that are added to the product and accounts for why the taste is nowhere near as good. It allows storage on the shelf from between 2 and 20 years, and will last indefinitely if you keep it in the freezer.
How Long Does Coffee Last? The Final Word
In conclusion, the best cup of coffee you will ever get will be from freshly ground beans that have not been stored for too long at all. The flavor comes from all of the oils and chemicals within the bean; substances that are slowly released in its lifetime. The longer you keep it for, the more of these substances it loses, and the weaker the resulting drink will be.
For the best tasting drink you should use the beans within a couple of months of opening, but they will still be fine to make a decent brew far beyond that time. It depends how important the flavor is to you, but you can often compensate for weaker flavor by increasing the amount of coffee you use. It is a resilient product, though and, as long as it hasn’t been sitting on the shelf for years, should be totally fine. Storing it in a freezer can significantly extend its life without ruining the taste.
How long does coffee last? A long time if you store it in the right way.
If you have any further questions, please use the comments section below and we will do our best to answer your concerns.