How Long Does Coffee Last? Keep Your Coffee Fresh for Longer 2023

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Welcome to our coffee klatsch. If you don’t know what that term means, a coffee klatsch is a social gathering of people who get together for conversation while drinking coffee.  What better venue than this one to chat about coffee and learn how long does coffee last.

Who doesn’t love the smell of coffee?  It evokes positive feelings for many. Coffee helps many people get their day started.

As popular as coffee is, it is an acquired taste.  Some people are happy with a bitter-tasting cup of coffee. Others prefer a milder flavor.  Its desired flavor and strength will depend on the drinker’s preference.

Coffee comes in a few forms – whole beans, ground, and instant.  We are going to discuss the shelf life of each form of coffee at room temperature, in the refrigerator and the freezer.  

Discover the best ways to maximize your coffee’s freshness.  Then you will get the most enjoyment out of every cup of coffee.

After reading this article you will be the coffee connoisseur at your next coffee klatsch.

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What is Coffee? 

how long does coffee last

Coffee, from the genus Coffea, is a member of the botanical family Rubiaceae.  This is one of the largest families in the plant kingdom. A little trivia: coffee is a cousin of the gardenia.

There are 25 species of coffee plants worldwide.  However, most of the coffee that we drink comes primarily from two coffee plants. 

They are C. arabica (“arabica” beans) and C. robusta (“robusta” beans). Both beans have been around since the 15th century and both are found in the Kaffa province of Ethiopia.

When these beans are roasted, you cannot tell them apart by their appearance.  Their taste and aroma, however, are distinct.

Robusta is stronger, harsher with a peanut-like aftertaste. Arabica is sweeter and softer than its counterpart.  It also contains less caffeine.   

Coffee is not processed food that follows a rigid expiration period.  Whole, ground or instant is the coffee drinker’s preference based on convenience and flavor.  

So here are a few general helpful tips to follow.

The Length of Coffee Freshness at a Glance

how long does coffee last

Here is an easy to read a list of freshness time frames for coffee beans when sitting at room temperature and in the freezer.  The freshness of refrigerated coffee in each category will be between the longest room temperature period and the shortest freezer period.  

Sealed Coffee 

  • Ground coffee: 3-5 months at room temperature; 1-2 years in the freezer
  • Whole bean coffee: 6-9 months at room temperature; 2-3 years in the freezer
  • Instant coffee: 2-20 years at room temperature; indefinitely in the freezer

Unsealed Coffee 

  • Ground coffee: 3-5 months at room temperature; 3-5 months in the freezer
  • Whole bean coffee: up to 6 months at room temperature; 2 years in the freezer
  • Instant coffee: 2-20 years at room temperature; indefinitely in the freezer

Cold Brew Coffee vs. Hot Brew Coffee

how long does coffee last

The typical hot drip coffee is enjoyable only for a day of sitting in the pot.  After that, you want to spill it out in the drain and make a new pot.  

Cold-brew coffee remains drinkable for up to two weeks if it is kept in the refrigerator.  If you add water to a cold brew coffee you reduce its drinkability by a few days shy of two weeks.

Caffeine Absorption 

Coffee is a wake-up drink for many people to help them start their day.  They rely on caffeine to energize them. So how long can you rely on coffee to do its work in your body? 

Caffeine is a psychoactive chemical.  When you drink, the caffeine first enters the bloodstream through the epithelial tissue found in the mouth and throat. 

The half-life of caffeine after it is absorbed in the body runs somewhere between 4 and 6 hours. After the caffeine enters the bloodstream the liver metabolizes and breaks down the caffeine into beneficial alkaloids.

Approximately 99 percent of the caffeine will be absorbed in the body within 45 minutes after consumption. Due to its half-life, it takes between 25 and 30 hours for caffeine to completely expel out of the body. 

The stimulant effects of caffeine only last approximately four to five hours.

How To Know When Coffee Is Bad

An expiration date is the least reliable way to know if your coffee has gone bad.  Appearance is not an ideal indicator either. Your senses are the best tool to test if your coffee is still drinkable or not. 

The strongest sense will be the smell.  You know that wonderful smell of coffee.  It is strong, pleasant and sweet. An expired batch will be missing the unmistakable aroma or taste. So discard it immediately.

Extend Coffee Shelf Life

how long does coffee last

Whole beans stay fresh far longer than ground beans. Grounding up the beans gives more surface area.  The more surface area means more of the food is exposed to the air, the quicker it is prone to spoilage.  It is recommended to grind enough beans that you need for the day’s pot of coffee.

Proper storage will impact how fresh your coffee remains.  A sealed mason jar is the ideal choice to store coffee after you opened the original package.  

Freezing the coffee will preserve its longevity and maximum freshness. Don’t worry about defrosting, coffee freezes below water’s freezing point.  Your coffee is immediately available to prepare when you take it out of the freezer.

Can I Safely Drink Expired Coffee?

It is generally recommended to discard many foods that sit around past their expiration date.  The most common reason is to avoid getting sick from consuming these foods.

Drinking coffee from whole beans or grounds that are past their expiration date is not typically a risk to your health. You may be dissatisfied with the weaker taste and aroma from older coffee.   

Hot brewed coffee is best to drink when hot.  Its taste deteriorates after it gets cold and sits for hours. Reheating cold coffee after a few hours is not recommended.  Keep your coffee in an insulated travel mug and you extend the time to enjoy your hot coffee.

These helpful tips will assure you get to enjoy a steaming hot cup of coffee anytime.  Tell your friends at your next coffee klatsch.

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Wife, Mom of 4 and so much more living in the Sonoran desert. I am passionate about making meals and snacks healthier without sacrificing flavor! I promise you that if you buy healthy foods and make healthy foods, YOUR KIDS WILL EAT HEALTHY FOODS! My motto: Live as naturally as you want to feel.