As one of the most popular drinks in the world, coffee comes in many different forms. But exactly how long does ground coffee last? If you, like me, are fond of the various different flavors available, you may have a number of different blends in your home so you can vary what you drink. This means that the ground coffee can end up being on the shelf for a long time, and can risk it going off.
In this article we will look at what happens when coffee goes off, how long it lasts, and how you can extend its lifespan.
The Shelf Life of Ground Coffee
Whether it is still in the form of whole beans, or ground up ready to use, coffee immediately starts losing its flavor when it is exposed to the environment. This is because the oils responsible for the rich taste begin to evaporate.
Ground coffee has a much larger surface area than the bean, and the process of grinding also agitates everything, so it will go off sooner than coffee in any other form. At this stage it is ready to make a drink, but it is also the form of coffee in its most vulnerable stage.
It’s important to note that when we talk about coffee going off, it won’t get to a stage where it becomes unsafe to drink. Instead it will lose its flavors, so the resulting drink won’t be anywhere near as rich or smooth as you will want it to be. The use by dates you will see on a packet of coffee refer to the time within which you will get the best taste, but you will find that the fresher the better, and as soon as you open it the quality will start to decline.
The typical shelf life of the different types of coffee are as follows:
Ground coffee in an unopened packet will still be good to use for up to five months beyond the use by date if stored in your pantry, or for up to two years beyond the use by date if you store it in the freezer. If the packet has been opened it will be usable for up to five months beyond the date if stored in the pantry, and the same amount of time if stored in the freezer.
Coffee beans in an unopened packet will be good to use for up to nine months beyond the use by date if stored in your pantry, and up to three years beyond the date if stored in the freezer. If the packet has been opened, coffee beans will be good to use for a further six months beyond the use by date if in your pantry, and two years past the date if you have stored them in the freezer.
Instant coffee is by far the longest lasting type, and can be used for up to twenty years beyond the use by date no matter whether you store it in the pantry or in the freezer.
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How to Keep Ground Coffee Fresh
If you are concerned that it will go off, and you want to learn how to make coffee last longer, then luckily, you can do a few things.
The first thing to understand is that whole coffee beans last longer than ground coffee. If you do everything yourself, you should only grind enough coffee for a week at a time, rather than doing everything you have at once. You should avoid grinding the whole bean as much as possible (except, of course, when you are about to drink it). This way the product will last longer and retain more flavor.
Store it Properly
Ground coffee tastes fresher out of a new packet, so you should only open it when you are ready for your first drink. Rather than leaving a half empty packet on the shelf, the more of an airtight seal you are able to achieve every time you store it away, the fresher it will taste when you use it again.
To do this you can pour it into an airtight container, or a sealed bag. Exposure to air, sunlight, and water causes coffee to deteriorate, so the more you protect it from these, the longer it will last and fresher it will taste.
The Final Word
Fresh coffee provides a much smoother and flavorsome experience than using instant granules but, as with all foodstuffs, ground coffee will lose its taste if it is stored for too long. It won’t become dangerous, but it certainly won’t be anywhere near as pleasurable. When looking at how long does ground coffee last, the answer is for a number of months beyond the use by date, but it starts to lose its quality as soon as you open the packet or grind the bean.