Fresh coffee grounds make a tasty morning cup of Joe. But do coffee grounds expire? It is a question that comes up in the minds of many coffee lovers. However, many people do not have a clear answer to this question. While some coffee enthusiasts argue that coffee grounds can retain their freshness for years when frozen, this is not entirely true.
Coffee aficionados are often able to tell the difference between a cup of coffee brewed with stale grounds and one brewed with fresh grounds. While coffee does not last forever, there are certain ways you can extend its freshness. In this article, we will discuss the shelf life of coffee grounds and how you can preserve their taste longer.
How Long Do Coffee Grounds Last?
There are many variables that determine the shelf life of coffee grounds including their quality, date of grinding, and how they are stored. Coffee grounds from top roasters and brands often have an expiry or sell-by date. However, this does not necessarily mean that they expire. What it means is the time they are likely to have lost their freshness and become stale. They only go bad when exposed to humidity as it causes them to form mold.
Generally, unopened packages of coffee grounds stored in the pantry retain much of their freshness for about 3 to 5 months past their best by date. Frozen and unthawed coffee grounds retain freshness for one to two years past their best by date.
Upon opening the package, consume the coffee grounds within two weeks if you still want to enjoy their freshness. Thus, ground coffee loses its quality faster when exposed to oxygen and humidity.
These numbers, however, are for the best-tasting coffee. The peak flavor of coffee may vary. Regardless of the type of coffee beans or brewing method you are using, you can only enjoy the freshest and tastiest coffee by brewing with ground coffee closest to its roasting date. As the grounds age towards their expiration date, they brew less tasty coffee.
If you have bought ground coffee and you are not sure when you will finish it, store it in smaller portions to avoid opening it now and then. Also, some coffee packages contain nitrogen that helps to slow the rate of spoilage. However, if you break the seal, the grounds will be exposed to humidity and oxygen and lose their flavor sooner.
How to Store Coffee Grounds
While brewing with expired grounds will not make you sick, you will not enjoy the flat taste of coffee brewed with expired grounds. If you prefer buying pre-ground coffee for convenience, you will need to prolong its shelf life with proper storage.
Generally, grinding coffee beans at home takes quite some time, and that is not what you want when heading out to work early in the morning. Besides, grinding beans is often messy. After all, what you just want it’s a quick dose of caffeine to help you wake up and feel re-energized. That is where pre-ground coffee saves the day.
Unfortunately, grinding beans increases their surface area. Thus, ground coffee is more exposed to unfavorable elements. Ground coffee starts losing its flavor and oil as soon as you grind the beans. That is why it is important to store ground coffee properly to retain its flavor for the longest time possible.
If you bought coffee grounds and they were packed in a vacuum-sealed bag, leave them that way. Put the package in your kitchen cabinet or pantry. Once you open the package, or you bought the grounds in an unsealed package, transfer them into an opaque, airtight container.
If you want to store coffee grounds for a longer period, store most of them in an airtight canister and a smaller amount in a smaller container that you can consume within one or two weeks. That way, you will minimize their exposure to light and air, hence keeping them fresh for longer.
While some people recommend freezing coffee grounds, others are of the contrary opinion. Whether or not you should freeze coffee beans is an unending debate. While freezing ground coffee preserves them for a longer period, their flavor diminishes altogether.
If you choose to freeze coffee grounds, store them in freezer bags or airtight containers. Freeze them in small portions to avoid defrosting and refreezing them constantly.
It is always best to drink a fresh cup of coffee. That is only possible when you brew with fresh coffee grounds. When you buy pre-ground coffee, use it within a week or two. If you must store it, use an airtight container and keep it in a cool, dry, and dark place. If your stored coffee grounds smell moldy or rancid, it is time to throw them away. Also, if your coffee tastes and smells flat, it has likely expired.
Unless your coffee grounds are moldy, brewing with expired grounds cannot make you sick. Regardless, it is always best to brew with fresh coffee grounds. So do coffee grounds expire? They do not necessarily expire but can become stale over time. However, they form mold when exposed to humidity and become unsafe for consumption.