How Long Do Coffee Beans Last? Keep Your Coffee Fresh!

How long do coffee beans last?

Coffee beans don’t keep their freshness forever, but just how long do coffee beans last?

In general, raw or green bean coffee beans can last for 12 months or more depending on how they’re stored. By comparison, whole, roasted coffee beans can last anywhere from 2 to 6 months. And a bag of pre-ground coffee should be used within 2 weeks of opening.

But not all coffee beans will go bad at the same speed as other beans. Coffee that’s stored in a cool, dark location will last longer than coffee kept in the sun. Lighter roasts last longer than darker roasts. And coffee that hasn’t been opened will definitely last longer than an open bag of coffee.

There are several factors that affect how long the shelf life will be!

If you want to learn more about the details of why coffee goes bad and what you can do to keep it fresh then read on!

Does Coffee Go Bad?

Raw coffee beans can go bad (i.e. grow mold) if the humidity is too high. But if stored in stable humidity or if they’re already roasted, coffee beans don’t really “go bad”. Not the way that milk or vegetables go bad. Instead, they just go stale or lose freshness.

This happens because coffee beans are actually seeds. And seeds are living things that require oxygen to keep on living. As your green coffee beans take in oxygen, they slowly degrade.

During the roasting process, coffee beans produce aromas, flavors, oils, and acids that aren’t there in the raw green bean. And these coffee solubles are degraded much quicker by oxygen.

(Which is why roasted coffee beans don’t keep their freshness as long as green coffee beans.)

And in ground coffee, oxygen is able to degrade coffee solubles even quicker.

So, now that we’ve identified the problem, what can we do about it?

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How Long Can You Store Green Coffee Beans?

Green coffee beans can last up to 12 months depending on how they’re stored.

And because green beans absorb moisture from their surroundings, they really can go bad and grow mold, unlike roasted beans which usually just lose flavor.

If you want your green beans to maintain their freshness, you’ll need to keep these factors in mind.

  • Light levels
  • Humidity levels
  • Temperature
  • Pests

Light Levels

Bright lights will dry out your green beans quicker. This will hurt the aroma and flavor profile of your coffee.

If you want to make your raw coffee last longer, store them in a dark place or container.

Humidity Levels

The moisture content of the raw beans affects the aroma, acidity, and flavor profile of the coffee once roasted. This means the humidity level is super important to the quality of the bean.

But remember, green beans absorb moisture. So the raw bean’s moisture levels can change if the humidity is unstable.

Higher humidity can cause mold to grow on your coffee. Lower humidity can cause your coffee to dry out and lose flavor.

Either way, unstable humidity will make your coffee go bad fast!


Warm air holds moisture. Cold air doesn’t.

This means the warmer the storage area, the more likely your coffee will absorb moisture and grow mold.

Store your beans at room temperature for a longer shelf life.


Although we can’t eat raw beans, pests can!

Most shipments are certified as pest-free before they leave their country of origin. But pests can still find their way onto your coffee during transit, in the warehouse, or even after you’ve brought them home.

If you want to make your raw coffee last as long as possible, be sure to keep it somewhere pests can’t get to it.

How Long Do Roasted Coffee Beans Last?

Roasted whole coffee beans can last from 2 to 6 months. Pre-ground coffee should be used within two weeks of opening.

Those are good guidelines to go by, but keep in mind that coffee doesn’t just lose flavor based on time. It also affects taste when exposed to oxygen, heat, and humidity. So, an open bag of coffee stored away from air, heat, and humidity will last a lot longer.

Do Unopened Coffee Bags Last Longer?

Unopened bags of coffee will last longer than opened bags because the beans are sealed away from oxygen. But once you open the bag, the oxidation process immediately ramps up and starts to degrade the coffee’s aromas and flavors.

If you go to the grocery store and buy a bag of coffee, you’ll see a valve in the bag. This one way valve let’s carbon dioxide escape the bag (which the beans release after roasting) but won’t let oxygen enter. This keeps the beans fresher longer.

Even though sealed coffee lasts longer, you’ll still find an expiration date somewhere on the package.

This date isn’t really an expiration date. Instead, it’s the recommended “best by” date. Use your beans by then to get the most flavor out of your coffee. But it should still be good for a while past this date.

Just be sure you’re storing your coffee in a dark, airtight container and in a cool, dry place.

Rule of 15

In the online coffee community, you may hear of something called the “Rule of 15”. This rule (which are more like guidelines) give you a quick way to tell if coffee is fresh or not.

The Rule 0f 15 states:

  • Green coffee is good for 15 months if stored properly
  • Freshly roasted coffee is at its best for 15 days if stored properly
  • Freshly coffee grounds are good for 15 minutes

But to be honest, I don’t really follow these guidelines.

Sure, after 15 days the effects of oxidation may strip away some of the flavor and nuance from your cup of coffee. But if you store your coffee properly and in an airtight container, it can last much longer.

And besides, darker roasts (which I usually drink) lack a lot of that nuance in the first place. So if you tend to drink dark roasts, or you’re just a regular coffee drinker who wants a regular cup of joe, keep your beans longer.

It’ll be fine.

How To Store Fresh Coffee?

The best way to store coffee for maximum freshness is in air tight canisters in a cool and dark place.

Your coffee beans have a few antagonists. Oxygen and moisture being the two biggest. Any storage method you adopt has to protect against these.

  • Storing coffee in an airtight canister will reduce exposure to oxygen and slow the oxidation process.
  • Keep your coffee away from heat and light, which may cause your roasted beans to dry out.
  • Keep your beans in a container that can keep out pests.

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Tips To Keep Coffee Fresh Longer

You now have a good idea of how long your coffee will last. You also know the best way to store it. But there are even more ways to keep your roasted beans as fresh as possible.

1. Buy Fresh Roasted Coffee

Coffee sold in grocery stores doesn’t tell you when it was roasted.

So, you really have no idea how fresh those beans are. But considering the shipping and storage they’ve gone through, it’s safe to say those beans are at least a few weeks old.

If you want your coffee to have the longest shelf life possible, buy the most recently roasted beans you can.

Consider finding a local coffee roaster. Or if there aren’t any near you, buy from roasters online.

2. Buy Small Amounts

It may be cheaper to buy your beans in bulk, but if you want to enjoy the freshest coffee possible, buy smaller bags that you can use quickly.

3. Buy Whole Beans And Grind Before Brewing

Ground coffee changes much quicker than whole beans when exposed to oxygen. This is why you should buy whole bean coffee whenever possible and grind it yourself when you’re ready to brew a cup.

4. Don’t Store Coffee Beans In The Refrigerator

Don’t store coffee in the fridge. It doesn’t matter if it’s coffee grounds or whole bean.

Any moisture that get’s on the coffee can start the brewing process and extract flavor. Your beans will also absorb any aromas that are nearby.


Can You Drink Expired Coffee?

Generally, coffee doesn’t expire. As it gets older, the more it oxidizes and the less flavorful it becomes. So, it may be stale, but you can usually drink coffee even after the “expiry date” on the package. However, if the coffee has absorbed moisture and become moldy, don’t drink it!

The best way to tell if coffee is good is to use your nose and smell it.

Do Coffee Pods Expire?

No, pods don’t really “expire”. Pods like K-cups and Nespresso capsules do have an “expiry date” printed on the package, but this is really just a “best by” date that shows when they start to lose flavor.

The pods can be used and enjoyed for a long time after the expiry date as long as the pod is undamaged.

Does Instant Coffee Expire?

Instant coffee doesn’t really “expire” if stored properly. Some brands have an expiry date on the package, but if the container is still sealed, the coffee can last a long time after the date on the package.

Keep in mind that if you have an open container of instant coffee that’s become moist, mold can grow. If you smell anything weird or moldy, don’t brew it.

Make sure you look it over for mold and use your nose to smell for anything weird.

Can You Freeze Coffee?

Yes, you can freeze your roasted coffee beans! Just make sure they’re stored in a sealed airtight container so that no precipitation can get in. If any moisture gets on your roasted beans, the oils and flavors will be affected.

If you plan on freezing your coffee, be sure to divide your beans into smaller batches so you don’t have to unfreeze them all at once. Also, be warned, if you allow moisture to get in and then put them back in the freezer your beans will get freezer burn.

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How Long Do Coffee Beans Last – Botton Line

The shelf life of your coffee beans depends on their exposure to oxygen, heat, light and moisture. But if properly stored, you can make your coffee beans last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.

Ideally, you’ll want to get fresh coffee as close to the roasting date as possible. But if you can’t, that’s ok. Just make sure to store the beans in an airtight container and in a cool and dark place.

But if you love coffee as we think you do, they won’t have the chance to go stale!