Coffee is a beloved part of many Australians’ daily routine, but how long does it last? The shelf life of coffee can be influenced by several factors, including the form of coffee, its packaging, and how it’s stored.
In this Coffee Expert guide, we’ll explore these elements to give you a clear understanding of how long your coffee can stay fresh.
How Long Does Whole Bean Coffee Last?
Whole bean coffee is coffee in its most natural, preserved state after it has been roasted. The roasting process initiates a slow deterioration of the coffee’s freshness due to exposure to oxygen, a process called oxidation.
However, when compared to ground coffee, whole beans have less surface area exposed, slowing the oxidation process down.
Shelf Life: With proper coffee storage, whole bean coffee can last anywhere from two to three weeks after opening before noticeable changes in taste occur. However, for the absolute best flavour, aim to use your beans within the first week after opening.
Storage Tips: Store your whole bean coffee in an airtight container, away from light, heat, and moisture. Try to avoid plastic or metal containers as these can sometimes impart unwanted flavours into the coffee. Glass or ceramic containers with airtight seals are best.
How Long Does Ground Coffee Last?
Once coffee beans are ground, their surface area increases significantly, accelerating the oxidation process. This means ground coffee loses its freshness faster than whole beans.
Shelf Life: Ground coffee can retain its flavour for about one to two weeks after opening, with correct storage.
Storage Tips: Like whole bean coffee, ground coffee should be stored in an airtight container, away from light, heat, and moisture. The key is to limit the coffee’s exposure to oxygen.
How Long Does Instant Coffee Last?
Instant coffee is made from brewed coffee that has been freeze-dried or spray-dried. It is less flavorful than whole bean or ground coffee, but its shelf life is significantly longer.
Shelf Life: Instant coffee, if unopened, can last up to 20 years in the pantry. Once opened, it should be used within 12 to 18 months for the best taste.
Storage Tips: Keep instant coffee in its original container in a cool, dry place. Once opened, ensure the lid is sealed tightly after each use.
How Long Do Coffee Pods Last?
Coffee pods or capsules are vacuum-sealed, preserving the coffee’s freshness by protecting it from oxygen, light, and moisture.
Shelf Life: Coffee pods can last up to 8-12 months. Check the use-by date on the box for guidance.
Storage Tips: Store coffee pods in a cool, dry place. There’s no need to refrigerate or freeze them.
Should You Store Coffee in the Fridge or Freezer?
Storing coffee in the fridge or freezer is a point of contention among coffee lovers. Some argue that it helps preserve the coffee’s freshness, while others suggest it can introduce moisture and odours from other foods.
If you choose to store your coffee this way, make sure it’s in an airtight container. Only freeze coffee once and thaw as needed – constantly changing temperatures can introduce moisture and spoil your coffee.
The key to a great cup of coffee is using fresh beans or grounds. While you can extend the life of your coffee with proper storage, it’s best to buy in small quantities and use it quickly to enjoy its maximum flavour.
Remember, once coffee is exposed to air, its flavour begins to deteriorate, so only grind or open what you’ll use immediately – because coffee waits for no one, so savour each brew while it’s at its best!