How Long is Coffee Good for?

Does coffee expire? This is a question we see quite often because it seems like there are really no clear answers. The real answer to the question is, it depends. There are several factors that can affect whether or not your coffee could go bad and there are identifying factors to understand the signs and know when your coffee potentially is bad.

Lucky for you, you don’t have to sort through all the data to try to determine whether or not that bag of coffee in your pantry is still usable. We’ve put together a simple guide to help you truly understand how long does coffee last and all of the factors that could affect your coffee. We’ve also got some great tips for making your coffee last as long as possible without having to worry about it!

Does Coffee Go Bad?

If you don’t drink coffee very often or you mostly keep it on hand for guests that enjoy coffee, then you might just be wondering whether or not your coffee is any good. The question does coffee grounds go bad is not an uncommon question and the answer can vary quite a bit.

Ultimately, the answer is yes, your coffee beans, ground coffee, brewed coffee, instant coffee, and other forms of coffee do have a shelf life. They really can go bad. This is the final answer on the matter but we have so much more to share with you so don’t stop reading just yet!

Spoiler alert! The form of coffee that you have could make a difference on how long it lasts. Another important factor is how you store the coffee as well. All of these things matter and we will break it down for you here.

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How Long Does Coffee Last?

coffee art

Let’s talk about what you can expect in general from the different types of coffee. Some of these will not have an expiration date but they might. Remember that the way you store coffee will also make a difference. We’re going to start just parceling out the different types of coffee and then we will expand from there.

Instant Coffee

That instant coffee in your pantry is perhaps the most susceptible to an expiration date. More the majority of coffee drinkers, this cup of coffee is not the drink of choice but it is an option when you desperately need a cup of coffee.

Once instant coffee has been opened, it really only has a shelf life of about 2 weeks. If it is not opened, it could last longer but we are going to assume that you opened it and recommend you only keep it for about two weeks before assuming it has gone bad.

Brewed Coffee

Once you have brewed coffee, you really should just drink it. Any coffee lover will tell you once you brew it, you just need to drink it. The flavor will not last and while you can store coffee that was brewed, don’t bother! If you maintain the brewed coffee at room temperature, it will most likely be good for about 12 hours and then you could store it in the fridge for a couple of days also.

However, we vote that you just drink it or toss it the day you make it.

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Ground Coffee

Ground coffee is perhaps a coffee that is much easier to keep around for longer. Does ground coffee go bad? Yes, it is still possible. If you are grinding your own coffee, we recommend that you just grind what you need. Then, you can refer to the section on coffee beans for further instruction on those.

If you purchase coffee grounds, when stored properly they will last for several months. We do recommend storing them in an airtight container and somewhere that will not be susceptible to moisture and heat. When you store ground coffee in an airtight method, you can expect it to last for 6 months to a year as opposed to just a couple of weeks for freshness.

If your storage is not appropriate, your grounds could go rancid or stale and the taste just won’t be the same. Some coffee drinkers actually store their ground coffee in the freezer for years because freezing will retain the quality and you won’t even notice a difference when you’re brewing your caffeine, if you have stored it properly.

Whole Bean Coffee

coffee beans

Finally, many coffee lovers prefer whole beans because there is just something about fresh coffee made from freshly roasted beans ground on your own. If you use coffee beans, then you should only grind what is needed at the time you are ready to brew. Just as you can with grounds, you can freeze beans so they don’t go stale. Freezing coffee really is a good option that you may want to try out if you’re worried about how long coffee lasts.

Whole beans really have the longest shelf life so if you own a grinder, we recommend going this route if at all possible. You will have less to worry about whether your coffee grounds are stored properly and just need to maintain your whole bean or beans in order to keep them. No worries of that short term expiration date that is only a week or two out!

There are a lot of great coffee grinders out there. We really like the JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder if you want the best of the best!

JavaPresse Manual Stainless Steel Coffee Grinder - 18 Adjustable Settings, Portable Conical Burr Grinder for Camping, Travel, Espresso - With Hand Crank

Why We Like It:

We love the overall quality and the consistent grind designed to provide a means to freshly ground coffee with daily use.

Your whole coffee beans really should last for about 9-12 months if they are stored in an airtight container and if you use the freezer, you can store them indefinitely.

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How To Properly Store Coffee

If you really want to maintain your flavor, storing coffee is not a challenging process. The real key is to make sure that the package you are working with is 100% airtight. If you don’t want your coffee go bad, just take the right steps and be proactive to keep those coffee beans or ground or any other type of coffee properly stored to really preserve the flavor for the long haul.

You can store any of the options in the freezer as well and as long as they are vacuum sealed or sealed tightly, they will last indefinitely in the freezer.

How to Tell if Coffee is Bad

If you’re questioning how long is brewed coffee or whether brewed coffee goes bad, this is the coffee that you should drink quickly. About 12 hours is your time frame here although you could potentially refrigerate it for a couple of days.

If you are trying to determine when your coffee beans or grounds have gone bad, there are some telltale signs that are far more than just flavor indicators. The best thing you can do is take a sniff. If you don’t smell that full coffee aroma, that could be a sign. If you notice a musty or rancid smell or even a dull smell, this could be an indication that the beans have lost their flavor or have essentially gone bad.


Does coffee go bad? It absolutely can! Your beans can lose flavor and all of the different types can go rancid. There are steps you can take to make your coffee last longer but be aware that even beans go bad if they are not handled properly.

Smell, flavor, and quality are important when it comes to coffee, so be sure to store it properly and toss it out when it’s time.