Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 20:12
When buying coffee and seeing a great cannot be missed deal for fabulous specialty grade coffee, coffee lovers often wonder how long does ground coffee last unopened as their minds get racing and calculating if and how they can take advantage of such a great deal….
…or if it would be a waste of money and end up with a lot of expensive and rancid coffee grounds.
For those of you in a rush, here is the quick answer!
It depends! This quick answer is not a cop out!
How long ground coffee lasts unopened depends on how well you store it. On average, you can expect 3 to 5 months beyond the sell-by date or roasted on date for premium quality coffee and much, much longer if your store them in optimal conditions.
Keep reading to find out how long ground coffee can last unopened and under perfect storage conditions and how to store your coffee grounds (or whole beans) perfectly.
How Long Does Ground Coffee Last Unopened?
Table Of Content
- 1 How Long Does Ground Coffee Last Unopened?
- 2 Does Unopened Ground Coffee Go Bad?
- 3 How Long Does Vacuum-Sealed Coffee Last?
- 4 How To Store Ground Coffee Long Term
- 5 How To Tell If Ground Coffee Is Bad
- 6 Frequently Asked Questions About How Long Does Ground Coffee Last Unopened
- 7 Final Thoughts – How Long Does Ground Coffee Last Unopened?
Ground coffee unfortunately will degrade faster than whole bean coffee. By buying pre-ground coffee you are already at a disadvantage.
The grinding of your whole bean coffee increases the surface area which accelerates the oxidation process which reduces the shelf life of ground coffee.
Generally speaking, an unopened bag of ground coffee will stay reasonably fresh with an acceptable taste of coffee for 3 to 5 months beyond the sell-by date provided you have stored them well in reasonably good conditions.
To keep your unopened ground coffee fresh for longer, open the bag and store the contents in an airtight container, preferably a coffee canister with a one-way valve and store the canister in your freezer.
Never store coffee bags in your freezer as you will get freezer burn on your coffee beans or grounds, always open the bags and put them in a coffee canister.
Can Ground Coffee Be Used After Expiration Date?
Yes, I have often enjoyed a coffee that is past its sell-by date. That is because I store my coffee perfectly.
Storing your coffee in optimal conditions means you can maintain the quality for months after the expiration date.
Use a coffee canister to store you coffee beans and then keep your canister in your freezer.
If you are worried about stale coffee, simply brew a cup of coffee and run a taste test. If it is stale, discard your coffee and use your coffee grounds in an alternative way.
There are many, literally dozens of alternative uses for your old coffee beans, some of which will save you a fortune in beauty scrubs and treating your pets for flea infestations and keeping ants away from your home or garden.
Does Unopened Ground Coffee Go Bad?
Yes, coffee is a food item and should be treated as such.
While unopened ground coffee and unopened whole bean coffee can still be consumed and maintain their flavor when stored perfectly while in their original packaging, they will still go off eventually, usually after about 5 months.
You can extend this and still get a quality cup of coffee that coffee aficionados would be proud of.
How Long Does Vacuum-Sealed Coffee Last?
Vacuum-seal coffee packaging removes the air and slows the oxidation process significantly and helps to prolong the shelf life of the coffee.
Regular coffee is fine for 3 to 5 months when stored well beyond the expiry date. Vacuum-packed coffee beans will last for 6 to 9 months.
If you are looking to take advantage of a special sale and freeze your vacuum sealed coffee and expect them to stay fresher for longer, you will still need to open the package to avoid freezer burn and maintain peak quality. Once open, store in a coffee canister and keep the canister in your freezer.
How To Store Ground Coffee Long Term
If you are planning on storing your coffee for the long term, invest in a good quality professional coffee canister that is opaque and has an airtight lid to prevent moisture from entering and a one-way value to allow the carbon dioxide from your beans to escape from the canister while preventing air from entering.
You can find a good one on Amazon, Target, Walmart and eBay.
To help reduce the oxidation process to snail’s pace, store your coffee canister in your freezer. This will help to keep your ground coffee fresh for a year or two.
Even if your ground coffee beans are unopened, open them and put them in your coffee canister to prevent freezer burn. Coffee canisters have the same aluminum layer on their interior that helps to prevent moisture and mold spores.
This is how I store my coffee beans for both the long and short term. When I open a new bag I store most of them in a canister in my freezer and use a second canister that contains only enough grounds (or beans) for a day or two of coffee and store the second canister in the fridge adding grounds (or beans) to it every day or two when needed.
The result is maximum freshness!
How To Tell If Ground Coffee Is Bad
It’s not difficult to tell if your ground coffee is bad. Simply use your senses. Eye, touch, smell and taste. Follow the following 4 step process to find out if your ground coffee has gone bad.
Step 1: Use Your Eyes To Find Our If Your Coffee Grounds Are Bad
Start by looking for mold in and around the container and packaging that your coffee grounds are stored in. Give them more than a once over and examine them well.
Seeing mold or visual signs of mold or spores is the first sign that your coffee has gone bad.
If you have mold-infected coffee, throw it away and don’t even consider using it for any other purpose, especially not consuming it or making a beauty product for yourself or for your pets’ health.
Step 2: Touch It Up!
If your coffee passes the visual test, proceed to the touch test, also known as the finger test. Rub some coffee grounds between your fingers. If you feel the coffee grounds are grainy and dry like sand and won’t stick together, they are likely to be stale.
If you feel that the coffee grounds have some moisture and feel some oil they still could be fresh and able to get some good or reasonably good coffee out of them.
Step 3: Smell Your Coffee Grounds
The good old-fashioned sniff test. A good visual examination or checking your coffee grounds for oil will give you an indication if your coffee is okay, but it is not perfect, hence a further test is needed.
The sniff test. Simply smell your coffee grounds. If there are any off or rancid scents. Your coffee will be off. If you are still noticing a nutty, smoky aroma and herb-like scents, proceed to the final step and the last test.
Step 4: The Taste Test
The previous steps were designed to prevent you from getting sick and going direct to the taste test. This step you should still proceed with caution.
Brew a cup of coffee as you normally would, assuming that your coffee is fine and sip test it. Take a sip and no rush, make your judgement. If it tastes off and rancid, throw away your coffee. If it is great, well, enjoy your cup of coffee.
Frequently Asked Questions About How Long Does Ground Coffee Last Unopened
How Long Is Sealed Ground Coffee Good For After Expiration Date?
How long sealed ground coffee is good for after its expiration date depends on how well it was stored and the conditions the beans were stored in.
Generally speaking, your sealed ground coffee should be good for 3 to 5 months after the expiration date if they are simply stored in your pantry.
You can extend the expiry date and still maintain the freshness of your unopened package of ground coffee beyond 3 to 5 months if you open the package and store your coffee in an opaque coffee canister with a one-way valve and airtight lid and store the canister in your freezer. This will help to maintain that fresh taste for a year or two.
How Do You Know If Ground Coffee Is Bad?
To find out if your coffee grounds are bad you are best conducting a few tests to find out.
The first test is the touch test. Take a teaspoon of coffee grounds, put them on the palm of one hand and rub them between your fingers. If they feel gritty, dry and don’t stick together, it is likely that they are stale. If you can feel some moisture and oils from the coffee they should be fresh.
The next test is to run a visual test and examine your coffee grounds for mold and spores. This visual test and the touch test should be followed up with a sniff test. Take a good sample of your coffee grounds and check for scents that are off, rancid and moldy.
If your coffee has passed all of the above tests, then and only then brew a test cup of coffee and give them the final test – a taste test. Just sip your coffee for the first few sips to ensure that it is fresh. If it tastes off. Simply discard your coffee.
Don’t bin your entire coffee bag as the unused coffee can have a second life when you recycle them and find an alternative use for them – like your compost pile, worm garden, growing mushrooms etc.
Does Coffee Expire If Unopened?
Yes, all food items, including coffee and tea, will eventually go off even if they are unopened. An unopened package of ground coffee when stored in reasonably good conditions in your pantry will stay fresh for 3 to 5 months.
What Do You Do With Expired Coffee?
If your coffee grounds have expired, there are many secondary uses that you have. No point in wasting your grounds and just throwing them out.
Here are some ideas:
- Make Rub for your meat and BBQ.
- Use It As Plant Food and Revitalize Your Soil.
- Make An Eye Cream.
- Make a face or hair mask.
- Use it as an insecticide.
- Add them to your compost to increase the nutrient profile.
- Repair scratched furniture.
There are many more uses such as growing mushrooms, and you can use it for a worm garden.
How Do You Store Coffee Grounds Long Term?
The best way of storing coffee grounds long term is to store them under optimal conditions which is to use an opaque coffee canister with a one-way valve and airtight lid.
A coffee canister is perfect.
Keep your coffee canister away from heat, light and moisture. The best place to store your coffee canister long term is in your freezer, which will keep your beans fresh for one or two years.
Can You Store Ground Coffee In A Ziplock Bag?
Yes, you can store your ground coffee in a ziplock bag, but it is not something that I advise. A ziplock bag is not the best or ideal for storing as moisture can and will still get to your coffee beans. For the same reason, avoid a Tupperware container.
You need to use at a minimum an airtight container, better still a purposely designed coffee canister. Only use a ziplock bag in an emergency and if you don’t have anything else.
Final Thoughts – How Long Does Ground Coffee Last Unopened?
How long does ground coffee last unopened is something that is literally in your hands.
It is up to you to let it be and store your coffee as you see fit and see nature ravage your coffee, or you can take steps to ensure it stays at its prime for much longer, considerably longer by taking a few simple steps and spending a little money on a coffee canister or two that is purposely designed for storing coffee beans.
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