Have you ever found a six-month-old pack of coffee sitting in the back of your pantry? Maybe you’re traveling and want to bring your favorite brew along with you to enjoy on the way. Whatever the reason, you need to know the shelf life of these magic beans.
Coffee is a non-perishable item. That means it essentially never goes bad enough to harm you if you drink it. As long as it’s been kept dry and cool, it is safe to brew it up. When it comes to freshness, a completely different concept, it’s best to use your coffee within a month of when it was roasted.
Continue reading below to find out more about how long different forms of coffee and filters last and learn how to best store and prolong the life of your coffee.
How Long Do Coffee Beans Last?
Whole roasted coffee beans make a great-tasting beverage. They give you the opportunity to grind your own coffee to preserve that fresh taste without allowing the grounds to oxidize and lose flavor.
There is a lot of disagreement among pretty much everyone about what it means for coffee to go bad. Just because coffee beans are no longer considered fresh doesn’t mean they are necessarily “bad,”
Just because coffee beans have passed the best-before date doesn’t mean they have expired.
Different roasters have different timelines for the freshness of coffee. It all breaks down to how they roast the beans and how the coffee beans are packaged. The less oxygen that gets to your coffee beans, the better. As soon as oxygen gets in, they will start to go stale. When it comes to freshness:
- You can expect coffee beans to be freshest up to two weeks after the roast date.
- They can stay fresh up to 30 days after roasting and still have a great flavor.
Why Does Coffee Get Stale?
It’s difficult to detect whether coffee has gone bad because it doesn’t spoil as obviously as other foods. You probably won’t see mold growing in your coffee container or smell an awful odor wafting off them. The truth is, coffee beans just lose their oils over time, which takes all the flavor with them.
That’s not to say that coffee beans can’t start growing mold. If they are subjected to moisture, there is a chance it will start to mold, so it’s best to keep your beans dry.
The best way to decipher whether or not coffee beans are past their price is to brew them up and drink a cup of coffee.
Every variety of coffee bean is different. They roast differently, they keep differently, and they age differently. One coffee bean may taste its very best the day after it’s roasted while another actually offers a distinct flavor a month later.
The truth is there isn’t a set expiration date for coffee beans. You won’t find a definite answer on when your coffee beans are past their ability to be extracted into coffee. If you brew a cup of coffee and there’s no flavor, they have probably gone stale.
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How Long Before Coffee Beans Are Unusable?
Now, freshness is one thing. Undrinkable is another.
- Coffee is fit for human consumption for years and years after its roast date. It may not taste so good a year down the line, but it’s not going to harm you to drink it. That’s why coffee is listed as non-perishable.
The reason? There’s not enough energy for bacteria to feed on your coffee which makes it dangerous for you. The lack of calories gives them nothing to work with. On top of that, most organisms are naturally repelled by caffeine.
Except for humans, of course. That’s why we drink coffee in the first place.
If you were to crack open a bag of coffee beans ten years down the line, you’re going to find they are just as usable as they were the day they were roasted. However, since the oils have long since dried up, don’t expect them to produce anything but a pretty bland cup of joe.
The Best Way to Store Coffee Beans
To keep coffee beans fresher for a longer period of time, you need to keep as much oxygen away from them as possible. The faster they oxidize, the faster they will go stale.
The best way to keep coffee beans fresh is to keep them in a cool, dry place that isn’t in direct contact with sunlight. A mason jar is a fantastic option for coffee bean storage, as it keeps them tightly sealed and dry. Vacuum sealing is another way to ensure they keep their flavor for longer.
If you’re thinking about freezing your coffee beans, you may be on the right track:
- Freezing is the second-best way to keep coffee beans good and fresh for long periods.
- You have to be careful. Freezing comes along with the potential of moisture getting to your beans, which is one of their biggest enemies.
- If you decide to freeze your coffee beans for the long-term, try separating them into individual portions.
Remember: The moment your thaw your coffee beans, moisture will get in and start to extract them, taking away all of that flavor you were trying to protect. Because of the moisture factor, never store beans in the refrigerator.
How Long Do Coffee Grounds Last?
Coffee grounds are a much more accessible option. You don’t have to worry about grinding beans yourself, and you can just go ahead and make your coffee, no fuss. But do they last just the same as coffee beans?
Coffee grounds don’t keep as well as coffee beans because they have already been ground.
When you grind coffee beans, you are giving a head start to the oxidation process. So, ground coffee tends to lose its flavor faster.
- Use within two weeks of opening; the peak freshness of coffee grounds has passed after this time.
- Keep the grounds in an airtight container. As long as coffee grounds are kept away from air, they will last a lot longer.
- The lack of oxygen flow will ensure that the coffee grounds retain their freshness better than the grounds that have been opened before.
If you’re really worried about keeping your coffee fresh, it’s best to grind it just before you use it. In which case, you’ll have to stick to whole coffee beans.
How Long Before Coffee Grounds Are Unusable?
Just like coffee beans, however, stale coffee grounds are a lot different than “bad” coffee grounds. You will lose out on flavor, but you’re not going to harm your health by using coffee grounds a year or more down the line.
Most of the time, your coffee grounds will come with a best-by date printed on the packaging. This is a general suggestion for when you should use them but doesn’t necessarily mean they are unusable.
You should keep an eye on your coffee grounds, though. Don’t just dig into those old grounds and go for it. Though it takes specific conditions and is fairly rare, it’s possible for mold to grow in coffee grounds. That’s when you know you definitely need to get rid of them.
The only time coffee grounds truly get dangerous is when they get wet. Dry coffee grounds that are kept sealed in some kind of container and out of the heat won’t cause you any health issues to drink. They just won’t taste as pleasant.
The Best Way to Store Coffee Grounds
You should store your coffee grounds in the same way as you store coffee beans.
- They need to be kept dry, cool, and away from sunlight.
- Opaque, airtight containers help keep the light and air out of your grounds to keep them fresher for longer.
- Keep your coffee grounds away from heat and moisture.
You can also freeze your coffee grounds, but there is still the danger of moisture getting in if you’re not careful. The freezing route is much better with whole coffee beans than grounds.
How Long Do Coffee Filters Last?
Coffee filters help keep your coffee free from debris so you can enjoy it as much as possible. You can even choose from different kinds of filters to brew your coffee, each of which lasts for different lengths of time.
Types of Coffee Filters:
- Paper Coffee Filters
- Metal Coffee Filters
- Cloth Coffee Filters
So, which one is the best? Which one lasts the longest?
How Long Do Paper Coffee Filters Last?
You may think that your typical paper coffee filter is a one-use product considering that’s how they are marketed. They are meant to be disposable for the ease of simply pulling them out and throwing them away, used grounds, and all.
However, it’s possible to prolong the life of your paper coffee filters if you don’t mind going against the grain. A single paper coffee filter is still effective at its job for up to five uses. That’s four extra cups of coffee out of the same filter and four extra filters you have to use in the future.
For the best results, you should dump and rinse the coffee filter after use and allow it to dry before using it again. When you’re making that second cup, the filter will be good as new!
- If you take the traditional approach of 1 filter for each cup of coffee, a pack of 100 coffee filters is going to last you for 100 cups of coffee.
- However, it’s possible to get up to 500 cups of coffee out of that same pack, if you are determined.
Paper coffee filters aren’t just useful in making coffee. If you have them on hand, you can use them for all sorts of things.
- Filtering water
- Drying seeds
- Drainage in potted pants
- Quick tinder for fires
- Improvise a funnel
- Create a quick bandage
- Strain pulp and seeds when juicing fruit
Their versatility makes paper coffee filters great to have around even when you don’t need a caffeine kick from a cup of coffee.
How Long Do Metal Coffee Filters Last?
Metal coffee filters are a reusable option that prevents you from constantly having to throw out disposable ones. You will obviously get much more use out of a metal coffee filter.
A good metal coffee filter will cost you anywhere from $5 to $60, depending on how high-end you go. The more you pay for a filter, the longer it’s bound to last. If you’re looking for an option that will work for you for a long time, you should consider investing more money in one.
At the longest, a metal coffee filter can last you through seven long years of brewing. You will have to keep it clean and cared for, but you won’t have to worry about creating as much waste as you would with paper coffee filters.
How Long Do Cloth Coffee Filters Last?
These filters aren’t a very common option. You won’t see them being used very often. However, they do offer another way to filter your coffee without the disposable option.
The one downside to cloth coffee filters is how important it is to clean them between each use. They need to be thoroughly cleaned under your faucet and allowed to dry before you can use them again.
A single cloth coffee filter will last you for 100 or more cups of coffee, depending on how well you take care of it. They also tend to be more inexpensive than the metal variation and filter finer grounds out much more efficiently.
How Long Do Coffee Capsules Last?
Coffee capsules and pods save significant time while keeping each individual serving of coffee sealed airtight for maximum freshness. You don’t have to fiddle with grinding or measuring your coffee. All the hard work is already done for you!
When you purchase coffee capsules, they will more than likely come with a best-by-date stamped somewhere on the packaging. This is a suggestion for when you should use them before they start going stale.
As we covered before, stale doesn’t mean undrinkable.
Once you get past the best-by date, you can expect the flavor of the coffee to start leaching from the grounds slowly but surely. Eventually, the taste won’t have the same kick as it did when you first got them, even if they remain sealed the entire time.
In general, the best-by date on coffee capsules will be around 6-9 months from the date of production. That means coffee capsules retain their freshness a lot longer than your typical coffee beans or coffee grounds.
How Long Before Coffee Capsules Are Unusable?
If you’re not a stickler for taste, you can keep using your coffee capsules far beyond the best-by date printed on the packaging. Coffee is non-perishable and will continue to be drinkable as long as it is kept in ideal conditions.
Just in case you forgot, the ideal conditions to keep coffee are dry, cool, and out of direct sunlight.
So long as your coffee capsules haven’t gotten wet and remain out of the heat, they are still safe for you to drink no matter how long they’ve been sitting on your shelf.
What Can You Do with Used Coffee Grounds?
Most people don’t give much thought to their coffee once they’ve used it. They simply chuck it in the bin and forget about it while they enjoy their drink. But the life of that coffee can be prolonged beyond the brewer if you really give it some thought.
Help Your Plants Grow
Coffee grounds are absolutely chock full of nutrients that are essential to the growth of plant life. Incorporating your used coffee grounds into your garden soil can provide them with the food they need to grow healthy and strong.
Because of its acidity, you should be sparing when you put coffee grounds in your garden. There are some plants that can’t handle acid as well as others, so you don’t want to dump an entire cup of used grounds on top of them.
The nitrogen, calcium, potassium, and other nutrients present in coffee grounds are also fantastic for growing those tricky mushrooms that won’t grow in normal garden soil.
Along with all those yummy nutrients, coffee is great for attracting worms and other helpers to your garden that keep the soil aerated. They may even absorb contaminants in your soil like heavy metals.
Repel Pesky Insects
Insects are not as big a fan of coffee as you are. If you find yourself having a problem with unwanted pests such as mosquitos and fruit flies, you can employ your used coffee grounds to drive them away!
Set out bowls or cans with used coffee grounds around the area you’re hoping to rid of insects. They won’t want to come near it because caffeine can be deadly for them. It’s also useful for sprinkling on the ground around an area or even around your garden.
If your dog has a flea problem, coffee grounds may be the solution. All you have to do is scrub some used coffee grounds through their fur after you’ve given them their bath and rinse them out. On top of killing their fleas, it will add some luster to their coat.
Just make sure your furry friend doesn’t eat any, as they can be toxic to dogs when consumed.
Freshen Bad Smells
Coffee grounds aren’t the first thing you think of when it comes to freshening up. The fact that they contain nitrogen means they are excellent for removing the odor-causing sulfur from the air to prevent any unpleasant smells.
This can be useful if you find your refrigerator has started to get a little funky. Simply put, a bowl of coffee grounds in with your food to absorb whatever fragrance has made its way in.
They can also be useful as air fresheners for your car, bag drawers, or other places that need a little help in the smell department. Just pack some dried coffee grounds into an old sock or pantyhose and tie it up before throwing it wherever it needs to go.
One other way you can use coffee grounds to take away a lingering smell is after you’ve been handling something like garlic or onions. Simply dump some grounds into your hand and use them to scrub your hands. Once they’re rinsed, the smell will be gone!
Scrub Away Dirt and Grime
Instead of breaking out your various sprays for all those difficult areas of your home, why not give your used coffee grounds a chance? You can use them to scrub away the built-up grease on your grill or really work them into your sink to get out those stains.
Not only are coffee grounds abrasive and, therefore, great for scrubbing they also carry certain antibacterial and antiviral properties that make them a good choice to use for cleaning up.
They are especially useful for scrubbing down your pots and pans. Just dump a handful in and go to town. The natural grit of the coffee grounds will remove any cooked-on foods that you don’t want to linger around.
When using coffee grounds as a cleaning agent, make sure the surface you’re cleaning isn’t porous. The grounds could seep into it and leave stains of their own behind. Always rinse everything you clean thoroughly.
Exfoliate Your Skin
Keep your skin looking rejuvenated and healthy with a nice dose of your morning coffee grounds. They are high in antioxidants and are the perfect consistency for scrubbing away the dead skin and dirt from your face.
The best way to use coffee grounds for a skin rub is to mix it with some kind of oil like coconut or jojoba oil. However, you can mix the coffee grounds with water, and they will still have the same effect. They can even be used as a moisturizing lip scrub if you don’t mind the taste.
Because of its antioxidant properties and the fact, it helps tighten and refresh your skin, coffee grounds can give you a boost in your battle against annoying acne breakouts. Simply mix the grounds with milk to form a paste and let it sit on your skin for 20 minutes before rinsing.
It may not seem like the most logical thing to incorporate something used into your beauty routine, but by doing so, you could actually be promoting the overall health of your skin.
Feed Your Fishing Bait
Worms love coffee.
If you do a lot of fishing to the point that you keep worms specifically for bait, coffee grounds will be your best friend. Consider adding some of your used coffee grounds to your worm bed for your squirmy little friends to feast on.
Not only will you give new life to something that was just going to get tossed in the trash, but you’ll also end up with some pretty fat worms to put on your hook. Those fish won’t be able to resist your line!
Tenderize Your Meat
Get your meat to the perfect soft texture with the help of those old coffee grounds you never thought you’d find a use for.
Coffee contains acid and enzymes that are crucial to the tenderizing process. They help break your steak down, so it’s even more delicious than before. It can even help to enhance the flavor even more!
Just grab a bit of coffee ground, no more than a tablespoon, and throw it into your preferred rub recipe before you slather it onto your meat. Once it’s cooked, the coffee will help to form a nice crust, and you’ll be enjoying the juicy, tender steak of your dreams.
You can also use coffee grounds as a marinade if you rebrew it again to make more coffee and dump it into a bag with your meat to let it sit. Just don’t drink coffee made from rebrewed grounds. That would be awful.
Repair Scratches in Wooden Furniture
Scuffs and scratches are common in wooden furniture, especially as its ages. They come so easily but can be so difficult to fix. It turns out that used coffee grounds might be just the thing you need.
Help soften the appearance of scratches by mixing coffee grounds with water to form a thick paste. Apply the paste to the scratch with a cotton swab and leave it for 5-10 minutes to sit. Wipe it away with a rag and voila!
The coffee grounds will stain the wood in the scratch darker to better match the furniture as well as buff it out a bit. You can reapply the paste more than once if the scratch is still visible until you don’t even notice it. Just wait for an hour or two between each application.
Drink Your Coffee Whenever You Like
So, you see, you don’t have to fret about those forgotten coffee beans or the coffee grounds past their best-by date. You can just as easily use them now for a cup of coffee as you could the day they were roasted with no ill effects.
Just remember to keep all your coffee stored in the appropriate conditions. If your coffee remains dry, cool, and out of the sun, it will remain safe for human consumption. But if it gets wet then it’s ruined and has probably started to mold, meaning you shouldn’t drink it.
Otherwise, enjoy your coffee as you see fit. It’ll be there for you as long as you need it.
For more, don’t miss How Long Does Tea Last? | Proper Storage Guidelines.
Anne James has a wealth of expertise in a wide array of interests, including quilting, cooking, gardening, camping, and making jelly.
She has a professional canning business and has been featured in the local newspaper, and has been her family canner for decades. Anyone growing up in the South knows that there is always a person in the family who has knowledge of the “old ways,” and this is exactly what Anne is.
With over 55 years of experience in these endeavors, she brings a level of hands-on knowledge that is hard to surpass.
Lovingly known as “Jelly Grandma” by her grandkids, Anne hopes your visit here has been a sweet one.