How Long Does Coffee Last? The Ultimate Guide

10 min read JAN 06, 2023

If you love drinking coffee and have numerous packages stored within your apartment, do you know how long they will last without going bad? Do you know how long it can last in the fridge?

Despite there being limited knowledge shared over the internet on how to store coffee properly, we hope to guide you on the best practices through this article.

Coffee is undeniably one of the most popular beverages worldwide. And if you're like most people, you'd probably want to know more about how to store whole coffee beans, ground coffee beans, brewed hot coffee, and brewed cold coffee.
We’ve got you covered!! 

How Long Coffee Lasts Without Going Bad

How long coffee stays fresh varies depending on the state of the beans. It's essential to check the manufacturer's credentials, including the manufacturing and expiration date.

Usually, whole coffee beans last the longest without losing their sense of taste. We'll share more insight about why later in this article.

However, you will notice that coffee naturally lasts longer, especially if it's not yet brewed. Why? Coffee is usually dried before selling, so you shouldn't expect it to develop molds unless you expose it to moisture.

Let's expound further but rather explicitly depending on the method of preparation. 

Whole Coffee Beans

A whole bean coffee has the most extended shelf life. The time frame varies but is within a few weeks to sometimes up to 2 years. Whether the beans are sealed or in an unopened bag, your beans will fall within the timeframe.

If you open your whole coffee beans package, the shelf life shortens. Opened whole coffee beans usually last up to two weeks to one month. But why? Why would they have a shorter shelf life?

Once you open your coffee bean package, you expose it to moisture. The resultant moisture alters the beans' taste, making them stale. But is there something you can do about it to keep the coffee fresh? Well, yes.

It would be best to store the open whole coffee beans package in a dry, airtight container. Keep it at room temperature and away from heat and light.

But what if the whole coffee beans are still sealed? How long will the coffee remain good?

Sealed whole beans last longer, from a few months to one year. The expiration date is often indicated on the packaging. You can extend the shelf life of sealed coffee beans by 3 to 4 months by keeping them in a freezer. However, storing them for a long time could interfere with the flavor, making it taste not very pleasant.

Ground Coffee Beans

Ground coffee has the second-best shelf life. The manufacturers often indicate the best-by date on the package, which ranges up to several months.

On the other hand, when you open the bag, the shelf reduces to roughly 2 to 3 weeks. However, the period can extend if you keep the coffee appropriately stored in an airtight container and at room temperature. You should ensure that the ground coffee isn't exposed to heat, light, and moisture.

Nevertheless, instant coffee has a reputation for lasting longer than most ground coffee. And before you ask, instant coffee is different from ground coffee. Instant coffee is brewed from roasted and grounded coffee beans and is even more concentrated than regular coffee.

Experts say instant coffee can last up to 20 years if you store it cautiously. The storage should be cool, dark, and dry; otherwise, the coffee's shelf life will reduce. But to be safe, ensure you check what the manufacturer indicates on the package. 

Brewed Hot Coffee

Brewed coffee lasts for about 20 to 40 minutes of freshness when in an open cup. However, if the can is sealed, the timeframe may extend to several hours. But don't get it wrong; you can still drink the coffee even afterward, but you won't experience the freshness.

You might be asking, what if I keep it in the fridge? You'll lose the freshness in the brewed cup of coffee, but you can still drink it within a few days.

Generally, You should start brewing coffee that you can consume within hours of brewing it to ensure it doesn't lose its taste and pleasant aroma. If you're the kind that loves adding milk, drink the brewed coffee within 2 hours. But if you aren't inclined much towards good taste, keeping it in the fridge to extend shelf life could do as well. 

Brewed Cold Coffee

A cold brew coffee usually lasts longer than a hot one, especially if it's pure. Adding cream or milk often shortens the shelf life of a cold brew.

You can store brewed coffee that's cold for 7 to 10 days if you store it in the fridge in a sealed container. However, consuming it within three to four days is best.

On the other hand, if you add milk or cream, consume the coffee within 2 hours or store it in the fridge for two days.

Keep the refrigerated mixture at room temperature; otherwise, it will form coffee ice cubes. Experts say you can use iced coffee to scrub off dead skin and unclog skin pores.

Ensure that you stay on the look for any signs that the milk cold coffee brew has any signs of going bad.

We'll guide you later on the signs but before then, here is how to store your coffee. 

How to Store Your Coffee - 3 Best Ways

Let's face it; if you love coffee, you won't lack some extra coffee grounds around. So how do you extend the shelf life of the coffee until your next brew? 

Use Sealed Containers

You should always store any extra coffee in an airtight container. Such a container keeps all the factors that deteriorate the freshness of the coffee at bay. We'll explain further later on the factors but for the time being, use an opaque, cool, and dark container. No light or air should reach the coffee to protect it from being stale.

Avoid Heat and Humidity

Heat and Humidity make the coffee go stale fast. Store the coffee inside the cabinet because cabinets are generally cool, or store the coffee in the fridge. Countertops could be exposed to sunlight, heat from cookers, and more.

Buy The Amounts You Need

Don't buy and store in the house to use throughout the month. Instead, sign up for a subscription service where you can order weekly or monthly. But so doing, you won't have so many excesses to take care of.

Buying coffee in large quantities could stress you as you look for suitable storage containers. 

Factors Affecting How Long Coffee Stays Fresh?

You might have noticed that we've emphasized storing coffee in a cool, dry, and dark environment. Perhaps even overemphasized!

Darkness, cool temperatures, and dry environments are coffee's best friends. They guarantee you the high-quality taste and freshness you experience when drinking. So, what's on the other side of the coin? What factors influence your coffee to lose its taste? 

Oxygen (Oxidation)

Oxygen or air causes the coffee ground or beans to be stale through oxidation. Coffee usually contains chemical compounds and acids collectively referred to as solubles. These solubles give the coffee a characteristic taste once you extract them when brewing.

However, when you expose the coffee to air, these solubles are oxidized by the oxygen in the air. It's a simple process like rusting and oxidation of iron by oxygen. Oxidation of the solubles results in very different chemical compounds that do not have the same taste and smell as the initial solubles.
Therefore, you will feel a slight change in taste because the coffee has degraded.

We recommend storing the coffee in airtight containers. They protect your coffee from becoming in contact with the air and oxidizing.


We also recommend that you keep the brewed coffee in the darkness. This is because the sunlight, like oxygen, makes the coffee stale. But what happens?
Remember the oxidation process we mentioned earlier; light facilitates the breakdown process of the chemical compounds. Scientists often refer to the process as Photodegradation. Eventually, the coffee will lose its aroma and flavor.

We advise that you store coffee beans in the dark or use very opaque containers. Lack of light will prevent the process, and eventually, your coffee will have a longer shelf life. Avoid clear plastic or glass storage containers.


Coffee beans usually contain about 50% moisture, although, after processing and drying, the mixture reduces to about 10%-12%. A good balance of moisture and solubles guarantees a good flavor and aroma.

A lot of moisture won't do your coffee any good. On the other hand, less moisture interferes with the aroma and freshness of the coffee. Experts explain that the coffee beans could lose flavor when the moisture lowers below 8%.
To be safe, keep the coffee in a cool, dry container to avoid adding or reducing the existing moisture. Exposing your roasted coffee beans to more moisture makes them bad. Please avoid placing the beans in the fridge if you can to prevent the beans from being moisturized through condensation.


The fourth killer of refreshing aroma and taste is heating. You should keep roasted coffee beans away from heat until it's time to brew them. But why? A combination of heat and all the other factors makes the beans lose their flavor.
Instead, store the coffee beans in a cool place and only expose them to heat when brewing.

A good balance of these factors will go a long way toward ensuring that you enjoy the coffee just how you should; fresh and tasteful. But how do you tell if the coffee is bad? What are the signs? 

How to Tell Your Coffee is Bad- Signs of Bad Coffee

Coffee isn't easy to know when it goes bad. It doesn't have mold, unlike usual fruits. This makes it hard to notice when they go bad. But there are two best ways to know that your coffee is terrible; using your nose or taste buds.

Trust Your Nose

Smell the coffee closely. Usually, fresh coffee has a rich aroma that's easy to notice. When the coffee goes bad, it will most likely smell like rancid oil. You don't have to be a pro barista to notice that you can't sniff the usual distinctive coffee aroma.

Use Your Taste Buds

Your tongue will do a good job noticing the absence of the usual coffee taste. Usually, stale coffee is bitter and sour. Coffee lovers notice when the bitterness goes way beyond the usual black coffee bitterness.
And don't get this wrong; not all bitter coffee is bad. Some coffee is roasted dark and, therefore, ends up overly acidic. This explains the overwhelming bitterness. However, If the brewed coffee lacks both aromas and is bitter, it's more likely bad. 

How Long Does Coffee Last When You Drink it?

Coffee usually contains caffeine. Caffeine is what gives the refreshing feeling minutes after drinking coffee. You should notice the effects of caffeine within 15 minutes of drinking coffee. But how long does it last in your body?

Usually, once you drink coffee, its effects will be at their peak within a few hours. You will feel the effects within your bloodstream for about 6 hours. However, the caffeine in the bloodstream will completely clear the body in around 10 hours.

Some of the effects you may experience with coffee at the peak in your bloodstream include feeling alert, excited, dehydration, etc. The effects mainly revolve around your mood and energy. 

Risks of Consuming Spoiled or Improperly Stored Coffee

Healthwise, spoiled coffee isn't a significant cause of concern. However, the taste may be too bitter and sour. Drinking such a bitter and sour coffee could increase your acidity levels in the blood.

Additionally, the effects of bad coffee risks could be different if the coffee had additions such as cream or milk. Spoiled milk is likely to have foodborne illnesses.

Instead, always dispose of any coffee you're unsure about, whether it's good or bad. Also, assess any signs that the coffee has molds, discolorations, awful smells, etc. Discard any brewed coffee after 6 hours unless it's refrigerated. 


How long coffee lasts varies depending on how it's stored. Generally, whole coffee beans have a longer shelf life than ground coffee beans.

In addition, you can extend the average shelf life by keeping your coffee beans away from moisture, heat, light, and air. But instead of struggling to store coffee properly, sign up for a subscription from Lifeboost.

On the other hand, cold brewed coffee lasts longer than hot brews. The best way to enjoy either while it's still fresh is by consuming it within an hour. Otherwise, you can store it in the fridge, but the taste and aroma may be compromised.

Check out Lifeboost Cofee Optimist Light Roast

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