So, you have a ton of coffee beans that you can’t finish within the month. That’s fine, just set them aside to use later.
However, does ground coffee go bad? Can you save the ground coffee for later, or will you need to use it as soon as possible? Read on to find out!
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Does Ground Coffee Go Bad?
Coffee is a universal pantry staple, with so many people beginning their days with a nice hot cup of brewed coffee at home. You may have stored ground coffee beans for you to create your own cup of coffee, too.
But does it have an expiration date, or can I use it for as long as I want?
All coffee, whether ground or whole bean, expires eventually. All good things must come to an end, really!
There are various reasons why coffee goes bad, with factors causing it to spoil quicker than its best-be date.
Coffee doesn’t last forever as it’s composed of degradable compounds that break apart over time. The compounds may include forms of amino acids, carbs, and lipids. The compounds and molecules would break down, chemically and physically, altering the coffee’s flavor and quality.
That’s why you can find an expiration date on your ground coffee packaging. Usually, the expiration date is a year after the coffee’s manufacturing date.
After roasting the coffee, it is then packaged into sealed bags with nitrogen to preserve its freshness. But when you open the bag, the coffee slowly starts to break down because of its exposure to moisture, oxygen, among other air pollutants and contaminants.
The roasting process eliminates the risk for most contaminants since the moisture level of coffee is low. While bacteria and mold won’t likely grow on coffee grounds, too much moisture can end up causing its growth. That’s why you need to make sure you store it properly.
Besides this, coffee goes bad in terms of flavor because its flavor compounds disappear as coffee ages. While coffee may be safe to drink, it won’t taste as great.
Shelf Life of Ground Coffee
Here is the exact shelf life of coffee, depending on various factors:
- Unopened ground coffee will last 3-5 months past its printed date if stored in the pantry. If frozen, it can last for 1-2 years.
- When stored in the pantry or freezer, opened ground coffee can last for 3-5 months past its printed date.
Take note that these dates are based on ground coffee that is stored properly. We’ll get to the storage tips in the next section.
How to Tell If Ground Coffee is Bad
Here are a few tips that show your ground coffee has gone bad:
- Mold is the number one sign! Look for signs of mold in your coffee packaging or the coffee itself. When moisture enters the container, mold contaminates the coffee grounds and must be thrown away.
- You might notice a color change in your coffee over time. This doesn’t totally mean that your coffee has gone bad. It is natural and changes over time. But if the color change seems too suspicious, it’s best to throw it out.
- Good coffee would have an herby, smoky, nutty aroma. Bad coffee would smell musty as it lost its freshness from humidity exposure. When you store coffee for too long, the beans’ oils go rancid, causing a funky smell.
- If you’re still unsure, brew a small serving of coffee to taste it! You can also smell it and see if it smells suspicious. If not, take a small sip, and you’ll be able to tell if it has gone bad immediately, as it would have a weird stale flavor anyone will find unpleasant.
How to Store Ground Coffee Properly
Now that you know all about how ground coffee goes bad and how to tell if it does, the next question is: How can you store it properly?
Here are a few storage tips you can follow:
Seal Your Coffee
Always store coffee in an airtight container to avoid any moisture and oxygen from getting in. An opaque container is best, so no light can penetrate as well.
Make sure that you place this coffee in a cool, dark cabinet. You can transfer coffee once you open the container, but if it’s still sealed and unopened, don’t transfer it and store it in a cool and dark area. Please do NOT keep it in a place where there are heat sources nearby, such as the stove, oven, dishwasher, or other appliances.
Do not leave it open for so long when you need to open your ground coffee to brew another cup for the day. Open and close it immediately after use, then place it back in the pantry. This will prevent it from being exposed to air, contaminants, and moisture for too long.
Purchase the Right Amount
The best way to make sure your coffee is fresh is to buy just enough to last a few weeks. Don’t purchase more than you can consume to brew fresh and delicious coffee consistently.
Low Heat and Humidity Levels
Coffee is best stored in pantries and cabinets rather than the countertop as they have cooler temperatures. As mentioned, cool and dark areas are the best areas to store your coffee in.
Freezing coffee is possible as long as you do it correctly. I recommend freezing unopened and sealed bags of ground coffee for it to last for over 1-2 years past its printed date. However, please expect that the flavor and quality won’t be as fresh as it was before freezing since the thawing process would decrease its freshness.
I only recommend freezing it when you open your coffee, and you know that you won’t use it for another few months or so.
Also, because freezing opened containers of ground coffee will have the same expiry date as storing it in the pantry, it’s best to store it outside instead. Keep it in an airtight container and place it in the pantry to use as needed. Why freeze coffee when it will expire simultaneously and lose its quality from the freezing and thawing process?
The same will go for refrigerating coffee. The ground coffee ages faster, so the freshness and flavor decrease. Plus, the coffee grounds condensate in the fridge, with flavorful oils pushed to the surface of your coffee.
Wrapping It Up
When it comes to ground coffee, you may be surprised that it can last a bit longer than expected, provided that you store it well. Expect it to last for a few months to years past its printed date, but before using it, make sure you check and do a taste test first. That way, you won’t disappoint yourself over brewing spoiled ground coffee!
Hopefully, you learned a lot about ground coffee and how it can spoil over time. Keep this information in mind, and make sure you look into the ground coffee you have in your pantry or freezer to check for spoilage now!
Do you have any questions or want to share your tips and experiences on storing ground coffee? Please share them in the comments section below. All of your thoughts are much appreciated.