Does Ground Coffee go Bad?- All the Answers

“Mamas Caffeinated Cup is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to” We may also earn a small commission at no cost to you for recommending other products or services on this blog. All opinions remain my own.

Fresh coffee is the only coffee I love to consume. Yes, I can tell a difference. Does ground coffee go bad? There is no clear answer. But I will explain all the questions you might have about coffee going bad and you can make your own decision after.

How long does Coffee last?

Some say it can last for years, others say no way but I’m sure if you appreciate a great tasting cup of coffee, you will know the difference.

Coffee will expire or go bad eventually. It’s mainly about how you translate “bad” in relation to the way your coffee tastes. Some avid coffee drinkers will very quickly know if the flavor is gone while non-seasoned consumers might not have any idea.

A long time ago, I was one of those people who had no idea how “good coffee” tasted. I thought it was all bitter and I needed to add creamer to make it drinkable.

I now know what good coffee is and that it can be consumed for a long time after it’s roasted but for maximum quality and flavor, you should consume it within a few weeks and always grind before you brew.

There is also a huge difference between whole bean and ground coffee.

ground coffee next to whole bean coffee

Coffee goes through a degassing process after it is roasted. This continues to happen as long as the coffee is exposed to the elements. When you grind the beans, the rate of gas being released rapidly increases because it increases the surface area of the bean.

Whole Bean Coffee

Whole bean coffee is definitely the way to go and you should wait until right before you brew to grind the beans. When whole beans are sealed properly, they can last up to a year.

It’s easier for them to hold their flavor when they are still in solid form. Once you open the bag, the shelf life decreased to 6 months.

Ground Coffee

Ground coffee’s freshness depends on when it was ground. If it was ground after roasting and you don’t know when that was, it’s hard to say how fresh it is.

Most ground coffee at the grocery store has sat on the shelf for months before it’s sold, so keep this in mind when you are selecting a bean. I love fresh subscription coffee that is shipped to me right after roasting. This is the best way to guarantee fresh beans.

Ground coffee is more vulnerable to the elements than whole bean is. When it’s opened you can expect about 3 to 6 months out of the bag. Storage is very important in helping maintain the freshness of your precious joe.

How to Store Coffee?

How you store your coffee is the biggest contributing factor to how long it will last. You must make sure it is sealed in an airtight container and be stored away from moisture and heat.

If you keep your coffee in its original container you need to make sure it is airtight and sealed. If this isn’t possible I would recommend purchasing a coffee storage container.

coffee in storage container with a scoop

It needs to be kept in a dry area away from heat sources because the heat could make the degassing process speed up. Moisture isn’t your beans friend either. It can change the flavor and cause mold or mildew.

Should you Freeze Coffee?

I wouldn’t recommend it but that doesn’t mean you can’t. It can still lose flavor when frozen if you wait too long. If you decide to freeze it, make sure its airtight.

When you use the frozen beans if it’s ground you don’t have to thaw it out before you use it. The shelf life of frozen coffee shouldn’t be longer than 1-2 years.

freezer thermometer

What about Instant Coffee

Oh instant coffee, you are virtually untouchable in terms of being taken down the expiration road. If you keep your instant coffee stored properly, it can last 20 years. Now, lets be clear when I say it won’t have the flavor of fresh coffee either but desperate times call for desperate measures.

Plus, there is a new coffee trend that utilizes instant coffee called Whipped Coffee. I bet you have heard of it.

Instant coffee is also great when you need a caffeine boost on the go.

Can you Drink Expired Coffee

Is it bad to drink expired coffee? No, it’s not. The only thing you will notice about expired coffee is the flavor. Before you brew it, make sure it’s sealed, not wet, and doesn’t have mold or smell mildewed. You definitely don’t want to use it then.

Don’t drink moldy coffee (duh!)

You won’t be able to look at your coffee and tell if it’s stale or flavorless but after you brew it, you can make that decision with a taste test. Old coffee looks like fresh coffee but sure doesn’t taste like it!

If you smell it and the aroma isn’t the wonderful one you are used to, chances are its bad. It won’t have the rich flavor that fresh coffee has. Like I said in the beginning, bad coffee is in the taste buds of the consumer.

If you don’t like the taste, dump it out, and try another bean.

How long does it take Brewed Coffee to Expire?

Once you brew coffee, you should consume it within 6 hours. When the beans mix with the water it causes it to oxidize faster. I wouldn’t advise reheating cold coffee either because it’s gonna taste bad. It causes the coffee to be further extracted and the flavor changes.

If you want to make a coffee smoothie, you can freeze the brewed coffee in ice trays and use it in your recipe. You could also use the frozen coffee cubes to keep iced coffee cold…now that’s an idea.

coffee pot pouring coffee into cup

Does the Roast affect the Expiration of Coffee?

It is rumored that the lighter roasted coffee lasts longer than darker roasts. This goes back to the degassing that happens when darker roasts are exposed to heat longer. They also have more oils and amino acids that are extracted to the surface of the bean that causes it to go bad faster.

Will K-Cups Expire?

Keurig has done a great job over that last 16 years at providing us fast, reliable brewing machines. The K-cups are not like most coffee grounds because they are sealed individually.

If you notice that a K-cup in the package has been punctured you should either brew it first or throw it out. You can always brew it and if it doesn’t taste good, you can toss the coffee then.


Nobody wants to drink bad coffee. I hope after reading this post, you can make a decision based on your own personal preferences as to how long you are willing to keep coffee before you consider it “bad”.

Take my advice, grinding your beans right before brewing is always the best option for flavor but if you are in a pinch for time, don’t beat yourself up about it.

Leave a Comment