So, you’ve become – or always have been – a coffee lover, and you’ve bought yourself plenty of coffee beans and ground coffee variations to last you a long time. Now, you’re thinking about how long it will last. You might have thought that ground coffee lasts forever. It may be surprising, but that is not the case. A good practice is to always check the expiration date as this will tell you when the coffee beans or grounds are becoming less fresh and more dated.
Coffee beans and ground coffee last a long time, but the catch is that they have to be stored properly. Otherwise, you risk losing precious flavour. And the next question is obviously, what is the best way to store ground coffee?
So now, do you need a solution? Look no further! This article is here to help. We will give you some tips on how to keep your coffee fresh for longer.
Coffee Beans and Ground Coffee
First of all, let’s clarify the confusion between ground coffee and coffee beans. Before you receive a steaming hot mug of coffee in its wonderful liquid form, it was originally from a tree.
The coffee tree has multiple variations, such as the Coffea arabica, robusta coffee, etc. On these coffee trees, little clusters of coffee beans grow in what we call ‘cherries’. These are usually green in colour.
Once the beans have been taken from the tree, they are then roasted. During the roasting process, the coffee beans turn brown and black and then are ground into small particles. At this point, the beans are now re-termed as your familiar ground coffee.
Ground coffee is the most common form of coffee that you can find in the store. They are sourced from all around the globe, in areas with hotter climates. This is why there are different types – the type refers to the region in which the coffee beans were grown.
When you buy them, they’re usually packaged in sealed bags. For occasional coffee drinkers, a more practical way to use ground coffee would be to buy coffee pods or single-serve capsules.
Now that you have learnt the difference between coffee beans and ground coffee, it is time to address how coffee lovers can keep freshly ground coffee stored in the best way. How long does ground coffee last? And how can you improve the shelf life?
How Long Does Coffee Last?
It is generally understood that pre-brewed coffee does not last as long as un-brewed coffee. If you want a store of ground coffee, you should probably opt for un-brewed grounds. This is up to you, though, depending on your preference. Whole bean coffee can last even longer than ground coffee or instant coffee. So, you could opt to buy the beans and then grind them yourself. For this, you will need to invest in the necessary tools for your kitchen.
Coffee grounds are a dry substance, so they are not very likely to develop mould or attract excessive moisture. The general coffee ground you buy from the store will be suitable for home storage. This doesn’t mean that coffee lasts forever, though. In time, the coffee will begin to turn. Coffee will be at its optimal or maximum freshness level for about two weeks. Then, it will begin to lose freshness. Ground coffee beans’ shelf life depends on the following key factors: the expiry date, how the coffee beans were prepared, and how you store the coffee beans or grounds.
You can extend the shelf life of ground coffee through a series of different methods. When stored effectively, the life of coffee can increase from a few weeks to months or potentially even years. Although, it is best to use it up before then as naturally, the flavour will change in time.
Tips to Help Extend the Life of Ground Coffee
As one of the most famous beverages in the world, it is only natural that you learn how to store pre-ground coffee to help it stay fresh. The biggest factor for storing ground coffee is its location: where will you store your coffee?
You can store coffee beans or grounds in these key areas: on the counter, in the kitchen cupboard, or you might have a pantry, the fridge or the freezer. These coffee storage options will make a difference to the fresh grounds and their flavour.
One thing that these storage options all have in common, though, is the necessity for an airtight container. Airtight containers will preserve the coffee flavour for longer, helping the essence of the whole coffee beans to last longer. Stale coffee is when the grounds have been left too long, and the coffee expiration date is well past. Stale coffee can also be from exposure to air, which is why it is important to invest in airtight containers. It is a good idea to always transfer your unopened package of coffee beans or pre-ground coffee into a container, so it lasts longer.
Let’s discuss the following tips on extending the shelf life in more detail.
If you like your morning cuppa every single day, then you might like the idea of having your coffee easy to reach on your worktop.
For a quick brew, you might opt for instant coffee or coffee bags. Although, those alternatives are known to be less flavoursome. And because of that, fresh coffee grounds are usually the first choice.
You can store ground coffee on your counter, and as long as they are stored away from the cooking hob, the coffee should retain the best flavour. The reason is that it is essential to keep coffee at room temperature and away from places with fluctuations in temperature.
Additionally, store your ground coffee or whole bean coffee in glass jars, as long as they are airtight. Not only is this a great way to display your coffee, but its airtight seal also helps to preserve the taste of coffee.
The Kitchen Cupboard
Storing ground coffee in the kitchen cupboard in an airtight container is a good idea if you want to keep your worktop neat and tidy. As long as your container is vacuum-sealed, this will help preserve your ground coffee. A vacuum-sealed container will hinder the oxidation process so that your favourite coffee is less likely to deteriorate. In your cupboard, your coffee grounds are more protected from temperature changes and will stay at room temperature.
An extra tip for storing your ground coffee or whole bean coffee is choosing a container with a small surface area. The less access to the air, the better the ground coffee because air causes oxidisation.
Fridge or Freezer
You might be tempted to put your favourite coffee in the fridge or freezer. This method indeed preserves coffee for longer, so this might be a good option if you have old coffee. You can extend the two-week expiry date by a few months by putting your ground coffee into the freezer. However, cold temperatures like those found in the fridge and freezer can change the taste of your dried granules. Remember always to use an airtight container.
If you want the best flavour, it is best not to subject coffee to cold temperatures. Refrigerating and freezing coffee beans actually extracts the flavorful oils in the whole beans, so this could risk the flavour and freshness.
Does Coffee Expire?
You don’t have to worry too much about the expiry date if you have stored your fresh coffee correctly. The best flavour depends on how well it has been stored. So, using the coffee even after some time from the roast date can still produce a delicious taste in your hot or cold brew.
Coffee is safe to drink after the best-before date and the expiry date, but it may taste different. Usually more bitter or less flavoursome. For safety, you should always check for mould or any discolouration among the ground coffee granules or beans or a strange smell that definitely is not fresh coming from the coffee. If you notice any of these things, throw the coffee away. It has become unsafe to consume.
Keeping It Fresh
Now, you know that coffee flavour can change depending on the process through which the freshly ground coffee was made, where the coffee beans are from, how long they have been stored, and so on. Storing coffee the right way will keep your coffee fresh for longer. Rather than just two weeks, you can keep your coffee past the expiry date and still ensure that the taste is fresh. If you really want to bring out the flavour of your coffee, you could invest in a home coffee maker.
The final important message you should take from this article is that you should buy what you need. This means buying only the amount that will last you for a few weeks/months.
Regularly buying it will ensure that you have fresh and flavoursome coffee all the time. If you want the best taste, this is necessary.