How Long Do Coffee Beans Last?

By Robert Parsons December 4, 2020

If you’re a coffee aficionado like us, you likely enjoy freshly brewed coffee each morning. The process of grinding and preparing your morning brew probably takes longer than most. This is because instead of using k-cups or coffee mixes, you brew your mug of joe from scratch. While this takes longer, the taste is well worth it!

You also probably buy coffee beans in bulk. If so, you may be wondering: How long do coffee beans last? Can they even go bad? The short answer is… yes (but there’s more to it, and we’ll cover that here!)

Keep reading to discover the answer, along with other coffee bean related questions. You’ll be glad you did!

What’s the Shelf Life of Coffee Beans?

How long are coffee beans good for? The shelf life of coffee depends on its quality and storage method. High-quality beans will last months if you store them properly. Naturally, they have a long shelf life because they are dry. This lessens the risk of mold growth or bacteria.  

If you leave them in storage for too long, they may begin to lose their freshness. So, in other words, the sooner you use the beans, the better. Each package will come with an expiration date. It is safe to use them for months, sometimes even years after that date, as long as you store them properly (more on this next).  

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How to Store Coffee Beans?

To achieve maximum shelf life, you want to store your beans in an airtight, opaque container. Be sure to always keep the container tightly sealed. 

Why not clear canisters? Because these containers let light in. Light that penetrates in causes the beans to oxidize. The darker the storage spot, the better. So be sure you’re storing them in a dark kitchen cabinet where light will not reach it. You’ll be happy you did! 

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Can I Freeze Coffee Beans?

If you’ve just bought coffee beans in bulk, you won’t need the entire supply anytime soon. This makes freezing them a good option! This is great for extending its shelf life without compromising flavor or aroma. 

We can’t guarantee, however, that they will taste the same after they’ve been frozen. Taste depends on the type of bean and brand you use. Freezing coffee beans works for us, but it may not work as well for you! 

We suggest starting with a small amount as a test and see the results for yourself. After comparing taste and aroma, you’ll be able to make an informed decision of whether this is the best choice for you. 

Pro Tip: Freeze your coffee in portions that you’ll use every couple of weeks. This way, you’ll only have to defrost what you need. Be sure to thaw beans at room temperature before using for best results. 

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Can I Drink Expired Coffee?

Like any other food product, we don’t recommend consuming coffee after it has expired. 

Spoiled coffee will affect the taste of your cup of joe. A rancid taste will replace the rich taste of freshly brewed mugs. You also won’t really enjoy the lack of aroma. It’ll be obvious something’s off. 

So to answer your question, technically you could drink expired coffee (if you really wanted to), but we don’t recommend you do. It won’t be enjoyable, and if moisture has gotten into the package, mold could form over time. 

Our best piece of advice? Don’t take your chances and replace expired beans with fresh ones. 

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How Do I Know Coffee Beans Went Bad?

How long do coffee beans stay fresh? The answer to this question varies depending on the quality and dryness of your coffee beans. There are clear signs that it’s time to throw them away. Here’s what you want to look for. 

  • Expiration Date. While this isn’t always a sign that coffee beans are bad, it’s a good idea to check them before making coffee once the beans have expired.
  • Mold or Visual Changes. Because coffee is dry, mold is rare. However, it may form when moisture or water gets into the package. 
  • Strong Smells. If a strong odor is coming from your beans, discard them immediately. This is a sign they’re going bad, and it will reflect in the taste of your cup of joe. 

When in doubt, throw them out! Rancid tastes, lack of aroma, or mold appearance are all signs that coffee’s gone bad. 

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So, do coffee beans go bad? While eventually, they will, this is one of those products that very rarely spoil. Try leaving bread out for a whole week, and you’ll notice how quickly it ages! What will happen to your coffee beans in a week? Nothing! It may even be good to drink for several months to come. 

So, until you experience some odd changes to your beans like the ones we mentioned, they will be completely safe for making mugs full of delicious coffee!

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