How Long is Coffee Good?

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Jason Coffee
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Many people have their 1lb coffee bag ground when they buy it at the store. It’s understandable. It is an accurate grind and easier. But how long is the coffee good once it’s ground? How long is it good once I open the bag? Should I freeze my coffee? refrigerate? Let’s answer these questions.

coffee storage case

Ground Coffee

Once you grind your coffee immediately it starts to break down the flavor. The flavor significantly starts to change after 24 hours. After 3-7 days it changes so radically I do not find it enjoyable to drink. The coffee becomes bland and stale. All things considered if you cannot finish a 1lb bag in less than 1 week then I would recommend buying a burr grinder with stainless steal conical burrs and grinding the amount you need daily. If you have a blade grinder – I have a tutorial on how to get the perfect grind.

Whole Bean

Leaving your beans in whole bean form will give it a longer shelf life. This is the best option in regards to freshness. It takes longer for the air to get to the core of the coffees flavor. I do not notice any significant difference in flavor until day 7. From day 7-14 the flavor of the coffee starts to break down. By day 14 it is not recognizable as the same coffee anymore. Again the coffee becomes stale and bland.

How NOT to Store

I have heard over and over that freezing/refrigerating coffee makes it last longer. I say emphatically: WRONG! Well, this is only true in one instance – If it is sealed/unopened and you are going to keep it in the freezer without taking it out until you are going to use it. I ask one question at this point. If you are not going to open it, why not just wait to buy it until you are going to use it? (There are obviously reasons why you might store them in the freezer: have to much coffee because of presents, Costco etc… but if you can avoid this, please do.) Most coffees are good in the air-locked bag for at least 6 months anyways. Moving your coffee from the freezer/frig to the open air does horrible things to your coffee. I won’t bother listing them all here. Just know that it totally changes the flavor of the Amazing precious coffee you plan to enjoy.

How TO Store

After the bag is opened store your coffee in a cool dry place in a air locked container. It’s that easy.

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Photo by KROMEX

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  1. Julie

    I admit, I do/have stored unopened bags of coffee in the freezer for the exact reasons that you mentioned, mostly because I do receive coffee as gifts. (What else do you buy for a coffee lover?) But I do only have whole beans and grind them right before I make coffee. I did not know how quickly coffee breaks down, though. Thanks for the important info.

  2. Kelly

    Usually what I do when I get a big bag of beans, I will use my vacuum sealer and seal off week long portions of beans and store it that way. Tastes fresh as ever with every new opened packet.

  3. Michael

    Coffee (beans) should be consumed completely within 10 days (ideally), but up to 14 days from the roast date. Beyond 14 days, coffee begins to lose some of it’s complex flavors/flavinoids that were only present near initial roasting. Coffee beans should be stored whole bean until ready to drink. Never freeze, refrigerate, heat coffee beans – light, air, humidity and extreme temperatures are unfavorable conditions for coffee beans. That said, a cool, dry, dark environment is preferable. Beans should be sealed in a container or bag that allow most or all of the air to be removed – fresh coffee beans will “gas” – give off C02. Grind appropriately for the brew method – a conical burr grinder is obviously going to give someone the most precise grind, but not obviously practical or affordable for all. The key to great tasting coffee is very fresh beans!

  4. BaristaOnDutY

    Another Great Article.Just Would Like To Add If U Can’t Drink Your 1lb Of Coffee In A Weeks Time, You Can Always Purchase My 6oz Bags, Perfect For The Coffee Conscious Consumer c|_|

  5. Martin

    Greg is correct that blade grinders create a wider range of particle sizes. I used to grind French roast Peruvian or Bolivian coffee for each serving. It’s a matter of personal; taste, but my wife and I both really liked the solids in our cup (the 1/3 that was ground ‘too fine’)

  6. StephanieFaith.net

    I make my coffee in exactly the same way: using a hand grinder (an old non-electrical one!) and then steep the roughly ground coffee in the cafeteire / Bodum. Mmmmm! Perfect every time :p

  7. 3amjosh

    The guy on “Good Eats” busted the myth about freezing coffee. He talked about how moisture gets on the beans and ruins the coffee quickly. I tried to comment on this blog like 100 times, not sure what’s wrong?

  8. Greg

    Good advice, but Blade grinders pose another problem (Don't know about burr grinders, I've yet to get one) The coffee grinds inconsistently depending on the proximity to the blade. The solution is to grind for 1-2 seconds, then stop & tap the grinder to realign the larger bean parts. Do this until the proper grind is achieved.
    (This is especially important if you, like me, brew using a French press. You use a coarser grind. If you do not do this, you wither end up with 1/3 of your coffee too fine, 1/3 just right & 1/3 too coarse or, if you try to get more of the coffee right, you'll find 1/2 too fine & 1/2 just right.)
    (If you like coffee & people, follow me on Twitter so I can get to know you @gwn :)

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