It’s no secret that the people of the world waste a lot of food. You know this to be true because you see it happen on a small scale within your own kitchen. You always mean to eat your leftovers, or make the most of the food you buy, and yet some things always get overlooked.
You always discover a cup of yogurt that expired months ago or an orange that looked bright and flavorful from one angle and moldy and liquefied from another. You try to keep tabs on expiration dates, and you’re careful to keep food sealed and wrapped tightly.
What is the Shelf Life for Various Types of Coffee?
You do your best, but inevitably you have to throw food out. With some food items it easy to recognize when they are past their prime, but with others, it’s much more difficult. Milk has a fantastic way of letting you know that it’s no good, but what about the coffee that you drink? How can you know that you are getting the most out of the beans or grinds that comprise your oh so important cup of morning coffee?
Knowing the shelf life of coffee beans in various forms will help ensure that you brew an amazing cup every time, and it will also help you waste less coffee. By keeping tabs on how long coffee should last you can make more of an effort to use it up before it outlives the appropriate shelf life of coffee. In order to do that, you need to know more about the shelf lives of various types of coffee. Here is a handy reference guide of how long various types of coffee last.
Whole Bean Coffee
The whole bean roasted coffee shelf life gives you the most control over its shelf life. This happens in several ways. For example, if the bag is unopened, equipped with a degassing valve, and stored in the freezer, it can last for 2 to 3 years. If you store the same unopened bag of whole bean coffee in your kitchen cabinet, you can expect it to stay fresh for 6 to 9 months.
Once the bag is open, it can last for about 6 months in the cabinet, and about 2 years in the freezer. If you have a home grinder you have the advantage of only grinding what you are going to use right away, so you allow the remainder of unground coffee to stay fresher longer.
The ground coffee shelf life is 3 to 5 months in the cabinet whether it is open or unopened. If it stored in the freezer unopened it has a shelf life of 1 to 2 years, but once it’s opened it has the same shelf life regardless of where it is stored. Ground coffee involves less variables, and it is harder to prolong its freshness by making environmental changes like you can with whole bean.
The instant coffee shelf life is perhaps the most surprising and also unsurprising of the bunch. Instant coffee can virtually stay fresh forever regardless of whether it is open or unopened and where it is kept.
This seems surprising of course at first, but then you have to think about what passes for fresh instant coffee. The standards and expectations are perhaps a little lower to being with, allowing it to maintain that same low level indefinitely.
In all of these various examples of the shelf life of coffee one thing is pretty clear, it all depends. Coffee in any form and in any kind of storage air, as long as it is sealed well, will stay fresh for varying lengths of time. Take whole bean coffee that is stored in a freezer. It could last 2 years, or it could last 3. That’s a pretty wide range.
The best advice is that coffee is good until goes bad. You may find bags with expiration dates and best buy dates, but the most useful tool in determining a coffee’s freshness is your own sense of taste and smell.
Coffee that is stale will not have the sweet and robust scent you are used to, and it will not taste as strong, or as flavorful. You can certainly drink coffee that is past its prime, but the taste will be noticeably different. You might think the coffee tastes weak or watery.
The More You Drink, The Less You Waste
Of course, the best way to avoid coffee that is stale is to drink a healthy amount of it daily. In fact, you may find yourself wondering how coffee could ever stick around long enough to go bad, but it’s always handy to know.
Think about that bag of decaffeinated coffee that you bought for your out of town guests for example. Won’t it be nice to know how to properly store it so that it stays fresh for the next time they visit?