How Long Does Ground Coffee Last? And When Do Coffee Grounds Go Bad?

Hey coffee lovers!!

Worried about the ground beans you bought a while back?

Are you asking anyone and everywhere about how long your coffee will stay fresh? Or when and how your coffee grounds will get expired?

Well, you have come to the right place! We are here with you with the right answer and reasons. We are going to explain to you the answer to ‘do coffee grounds go bad?‘ and if it is, what to do.

Let’s break it down to you step by step.

How Long Does Ground Coffee Last?

How Long Does Ground Coffee Last?
Coffee Beans and Coffee Grounds

If you use a coffee maker with a grinder, you needn’t worry about bad grounds AT ALL. Before we jump into the question ‘How Long Do Coffee Beans Stay Fresh?’, we should talk about something more important.

Usually, you can buy three types of coffee –

  • Whole bean coffee
  • Ground Coffee
  • Instant Coffee

The timelines of staying fresh for these 3 are different. Moreover, they depend on different parameters.  

  • Sealed or opened
  • Kept on shelf or fridge

If you store your opened ground bean pack in your pantry, your coffee stays less fresh than an opened pack in the refrigerator. Although refrigerators keep coffee grounds fresher, they SHOULD NOT be your top choice when you are looking for storing ground coffee for freshness. At the same time, instant coffee is famous for being long-lasting. Let’s look at a timeline of beans’ freshness.

Unsealed Coffee

Coffee TypeShelf/PantryRefrigerator
Whole Bean Coffee2 Years6 Months
Ground Bean Coffee3-5 Months3-5 Months
Instant Coffee2-20 YearsUncertain

Sealed Coffee

Coffee TypeShelf/PantryRefrigerator
Whole Bean Coffee6-9 Months2-3 Years
Ground Bean Coffee3-5 Months1-2 Years
Instant Coffee2-20 YearsUncertain

This is all in general terms. Let’s be more specific.

How Long Does Ground Coffee Last
How Long Does Ground Coffee Last Infographic

Why And When Do The Coffee Grounds Go Bad?

There is a huge sale on ground coffee soon. You are planning to buy some of them. Obviously, this question hits on your mind again and again.

Or, you might love to grind beans yourself with the best grinder. It is right for you to worry about freshly ground coffee or newly brought pre-ground coffee’s lifetime.

Let’s talk about when coffee grounds go bad.

Before that, we should talk about why coffee lost its touch and the ground has gone bad.

Open Air

We all love fresh air and fresh oxygen. But our friend’s coffee doesn’t. Exposure to oxygen reduces the quality of ground beans. You need to keep your grounds in a properly sealed jar or container.


Coffee loves darkness. It stays fresher in the dark. When exposed to light, it starts losing its standard. The jar or container you are keeping your coffee grounds should be out of light.


It’s the thing you should be more careful about. Moisture will ruin your ground beans very quickly. Roasting Level may influence moisture.


The heat helps us cook. The heat helps us keep warm in cold. But heat is not good always. Coffee, tea, and many other natural ingredients lose their flavor, and longevity to heat. Coffee stays fresh in cold than at room temperature.

As these are the main factor to ruin your coffee, you should be very careful about them. You should learn how to store ground coffee. You should be careful about the surface area. A damp surface area will influence mold to grow.

And if you wanna preserve whole coffee beans, you need to know the best way to store whole coffee beans.

When Does Coffee Grounds Go Bad
Coffee Grounds

Your ground coffee can be in 3 stages:

  1. Unopened pack
  2. Opened but kept in a sealed container or glass jar
  3. Opened but in an unsealed container

Let me explain to you the differences.

You brought some ground coffee bean packs. They have the best by date or expiry date. If you store them properly, they will be fresh for some more time.

Let’s assume, you have opened one of them. Used some of it and kept the rest. If you keep them in a glass jar, for example, vacuum sealed and in the refrigerator, they will stay much longer. Coffee life in the freezer is more extended than shelf life.

But if you keep them out in the open air and light. They will turn bad very soon.

This goes for your fresh grounds too.

Let’s look at a specific timeline –

 Seal TypeShelf/PantryRefrigerator
UnopenedExpiration DateExpiration Date + 3-6 months
Sealed Container3-5 Months1-2 Years
Open Contained2-3 Weeks1 Month

Has My Coffee Gone Bad?

how long does coffee last
Coffee Grounds & Coffee Beans

Here is the tricky part. You know how long coffee grounds last but it depends on various parameters. Right?

So, sometimes it is hard to tell if coffee expired or not based on the only timeline.

You may be somewhat confused about how to tell if coffee is rancid. Some points can detect if the coffee has gone bad. You can observe and tell if your coffee is still fresh or not.

Smell Of Grounds

The most significant evaluator. Our nasal sense is very powerful. We can easily tell whether one thing is rotten or not with smell even if we do not know much about it. Same for coffee grounds. You can simply smell it and your sense will tell what it is.

Developed Molds

A type of fungus. We know more or less about mold. If mold developed, it’s certainly rotten. Please avoid those grounds.

Color Of Coffee Grounds

It’s not a strong parameter comparing the previous two. But looks tell us many things. You may notice a slight change of color on expired coffee grounds. Try to do it in the sunlight. It will tell you more.

Taste Of Coffee

Two things can happen…

First Sign

You have made a coffee out of the old ground. You do not know if it has gone bad or not. Now the taste is not as good as you expect. Also, the enchanting aroma of coffee which gives us out-of-the-world feelings is absent. Most probably, the coffee has expired.

Second Sign

You have old coffee grounds. You can’t just differentiate by smell or looks. You are confused. Don’t worry. You can do one thing. Brew coffee. Then taste it. If the satisfactory taste or delightful aroma is not there, it has gone bad. You can leave it.

Does Brewed Coffee Go Bad?

does brewed coffee go bad
Brewed Coffee in a Cup

Your question should not end with how long is ground coffee good for or when coffee grounds go bad.

Instead, you should add another question. ‘Does brewed coffee go bad?’

Yes. It happens.

The freshness of coffee lasts about 15 minutes to 1 hour depending on the environment. When the freshness is gone, you can still drink the coffee but it will not give you a quality taste.

If you need to preserve coffee, you can put them into a thermos. A good thermos will keep your coffee warm and of good quality for several hours.

Now, this preservation also depends on some other factors. Such as…


If you keep your coffee at room temperature and out in the open air, it will degrade very early. For best keeping, use a vacuum flask coffee bottle for coffee. But, if it is cold brew, iced coffee, or a similar type of coffee, keep them in a freezer. They stay good for around 12-16 hours. You can preserve them much longer in the freezer, but the quality will fall.


Black coffee lasts longer than coffee with milk. Your coffee is out in the open or in a flask, in both cases, the enduring time will become less.

If you drink coffee from a thermos or heat it again the taste and aroma will degrade with time.

Our suggestion: Always drink fresh coffee. Prepare as per your need.

What Happens When You Drink Expired Coffee?

A very common and frequently asked question is, ‘Can old coffee make you sick?’

It’s not an answer to one word. The good thing is, there is no chance of getting sick if there is not any previous health condition exists. So, it is safe to drink for fit people.

You can drink old ground coffee; the taste and aroma will not be up to your expectation. You have to keep in mind that. Also, you may be deprived of the health benefits of coffee.

But you should avoid it if the grounds already developed molds. They might give you some trouble with your health.

Getting The Best Out Of Your Ground Coffee

If you’re constantly anxious about the lifespan of your ground coffee, you should stop buying too much at once. For peace of mind, the best flavor, and optimal management, try purchasing small amounts of whole beans or ground coffee. Moreover, it’ll allow you to invest in quality coffee beans.

Coffee generally goes very well with some biscotti or less sweetened pastries. Don’t try to rush with your coffee. Try to find time for it and sip it slowly. And finally, if you grind your coffee beans by yourself, only grind as much as you’ll brew at the time.

What To Do With Expired Coffee Beans?

This a million-dollar question. We, regular people usually try to not waste anything. We reuse many things.

As for expired coffee, there are many ways to reuse them. Let’s talk briefly about the,

  • Fertilize your plants
  • Make compost for your garden
  • Use as scrub
  • Pest control
  • Clean your drain
  • Wipeout odor

Prevention is better than cure. Instead of worrying about when coffee grounds go bad, you should learn about how to preserve ground coffee.


How long does coffee last in a vacuum-sealed bag?

The coffee ground lasts for 3-5 months in a vacuum-sealed bag. On the other side, the coffee beans will last for 6-9 months. It is because the vacuum-sealed bag slowdowns the oxidation process. This duration is for the room temperature or shelf life.

Can you store coffee beans in the fridge?

Yes, but not for too long. A fridge is not the best place to store coffee beans or grounds. Even not for the airtight coffee containers. It might be a cold place but not dry at all. Also, coffee is an expert at absorbing smells from the fridge as a deodorant.

How can I extend the shelf life of coffee?

Keep your coffee in dry places where light, air, moisture, and heat cannot affect it. Also, use an airtight container to store coffee on the shelf. The shelf life of coffee is limited. But, you can extend the span a little if stored properly.

What is the difference between ground coffee and rogue coffee?

Ground coffee smells fresh, has a strong aroma, and has a unique taste profile. But, once the ground coffee ruins, you never get this type of smell. It gets dusty, the unpleasant fragrance of the oil. It also lacks the intense taste of coffee.

Can you drink 10-year-old coffee?

Once coffee passes its expiration period, it is not wise to try for drinks. Maybe it has no smell and traces of molds still it may bring bad things. You might affect by bacterial attacks or other health issues. So, drinking 10 years old coffee is not best for your health.

Can old coffee give you diarrhea?

Coffee has no relation to diarrhea, even if it gets stale or old. If you have diarrhea after drinking coffee, somehow you got infected by bacteria or parasites. Coffee drinkers never try very old coffees because they lose their primary purpose. Please don’t bother yourself with bygone coffees.

What do rancid coffee beans smell like?

Once coffee gets rancid, it does not smell as good as it was. Due to the presence of oil, it catches dust at ease. So, coffee beans smell mildew, flat and dusty while rancid. Passing more days, it contains a stale and unpleasant oily fragrance.

Is it OK to freeze ground coffee?

For an unsealed pack, it will not make any difference if you freeze ground coffee. It will stay fresh at most for 3-5 months. But, a sealed packet can make changes o longer the life span of coffee grounds. A sealed ground coffee pack will stay fresh for 1-2 years in the freezer.

Final Words

Coffee beans or grounds stay fresh long-term if stored properly. If you only just stay a bit more careful, you will be able to have a perfect cup of coffee, always. And by any chance, if you end up with expired coffee grounds you can use them as fertilizers, composts, and many other different ways as we’ve said just a while ago!

Enjoy Your Coffee!!

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