Ground coffee is popular amongst enthusiasts, the favoured form of coffee due to its quality and heightened flavour profile. But how long does ground coffee last? Should you vacuum seal it? Should it be put in the fridge or freezer? Below, we’ll take a look at ground coffee and discuss how long it really lasts. P.S. We’ll also share some tips on making them last longer!
There are a variety of factors that determine the length of time that ground coffee will last. This includes the roasting process, packaging and the type of storage used. Keeping coffee in bean form is the best way to ensure fresh coffee. Simply grind what you need straight before brewing! Coffee beans tend to last six months when stored in a pantry, as opposed to ground coffee which only lasts 3 months on average.
How long do coffee grounds last?
Once you grind your coffee beans, you have a 20-minute window to brew in order to extract the best flavour from the grounds. The grinding process increases the surface area of the beans, exposing them to more light, moisture and oxygen. When ground coffee encounters oxygen, they begin to oxidise. This breaks down the chemicals and oils found within coffee, affecting the flavour profile, and weakening defining characteristics.
To maximise the life of your coffee, opened or freshly ground coffee should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature away from heat, light and moisture. The ground coffee should be consumed within 1-2 weeks, to ensure freshness.
What about unopened ground coffee?
If you don’t have a grinder and prefer to buy pre-ground coffee, your coffee can last a long time within its packaging. Once the bag is opened your coffee should maintain a good flavour for up to two weeks, if kept away from moisture, light and sources of heat.
At the end of the day, unopened pre-packaged ground coffee should last as long as the stated ‘best-before date’. If you’re in the supermarket in a rush, just reference these dates to find the coffee that has the most life left in it.
An alternative option to consider is purchasing whole bean coffee, but finding somewhere local to grind it in batches for short-term storage. Many local roasters, cafes and some supermarkets offer grinders for customer use. Not only does this allow you to grind only what you need, it also provides the option to choose your preferred coffee grind. Depending on how you drink your coffee, this could be finely ground for use in an espresso machine or medium coarse for use in a cafetiere.
How to store ground coffee to make it last longer
The most effective way of storing ground coffee is in an airtight container or vacuum sealed bag, away from sunlight and sources of heat.
Alternatively, buy whole beans instead of pre-ground coffee. Whole bean coffee takes longer to oxidise than pre-ground coffee, due to the smaller surface area. By storing whole bean coffee and grinding only what you need before brewing, you can effectively lengthen the lifespan of coffee and get an extra 1-2 months’ worth of freshness.
To learn more about storing coffee, read our blog on whether it's best to store coffee in the fridge, freezer or cupboard.
Does ground coffee expire?
It really depends. Most ground coffee will start to lose its freshness and flavour within a month. After this month of freshness, the oils in the coffee will begin to breakdown at a much quicker rate, causing the coffee to dry out. On average, you should expect an unopened bag of ground coffee to last 2-4 months past the expiration date.
If you want your coffee to last longer, it’s best to store in the freezer. Frozen coffee can last up to six months. Ultimately, proper storage is the key to keeping your coffee fresh for as long as possible.