When you buy a bag of coffee, how long does it last? And how long can you hang on to brewed coffee before it needs to go bye-bye?
Either way, knowing the answer to how long does coffee last can be the difference between a great cup, and a pot taking the drain train to Dumped Town.
Optimal Flavor vs Drinkability
Because we’re coffee experts, we have a tendency to strive for perfection in taste and overall experience of our gourmet coffees. But to humble ourselves a bit, we admit: using stale coffee beans or ground coffee to brew a pot won’t kill you.
It may deter you from wanting another cup from that pot. Or it may require that you add so many extras to it you can’t taste the coffee anymore.
Neither of those is good. But again, nobody’s going to keel over because their morning cup came from a bag of beans that’s past its “best by” date..
Our recommendations for how long does coffee last will be based on using the coffee during its optimal flavor period.
Coffee Beans and Ground Coffee
If you have the best conditions and excellent storage, you can expect these optimal quality durations:
- 2 to 6 weeks for best flavor and aroma
- 2 to 4 weeks for best flavor and aroma
Now, will the coffee last longer? Absolutely it will. But with age comes a loss of flavor and aroma, until eventually the coffee tastes bland and “flat,” and possibly a little “dusty.”
If the coffee has truly gone over, you’ll notice an extreme sourness or bitterness to it.
Why Does Coffee Age?
The sad truth is, as soon as the coffee beans are roasted, the aging process begins. It’s called “oxidation”, and it’s what turns delicious fresh coffee into something only served in dystopian future movies, and at Great-grandma Ethel’s house.
Oxidation and Your Beans
Have you ever cut an avocado in half and accidentally left half of it out on the counter? That brown look it gets is caused by oxidation. The oxygen in the air reacts with chemicals/oils in the flesh of the avocado, and creates that not-great-tasting brown layer.
The same kind of thing happens to your coffee once it’s roasted. As these beans come into contact with air, oxygen starts breaking down a number of the oils and acids within the bean. These “solubles” are what give your coffee its flavor profile and delicious aroma. When you brew coffee, they’re extracted from the grounds and deliver your great coffee experience.
Oxidation degrades the solubles, and they begin to evaporate. As the coffee ages, you get less and less flavor because more and more of the solubles have been lost.
Related topic: the life story of whole bean coffee.
Helping Save the Flavor
How long does coffee last? A great deal of the answer depends on how you store your coffee.
No coffee will last long in a hot environment or direct sunlight. If the coffee has been removed from its original packaging, oxidation happens even more quickly. So here are some simple, easy tips on making your coffee last longer.
Keep It Sealed
If you can keep your Cooper’s Cask Coffee in its original packaging, unopened, that will help with storage longevity. Our bags are specifically designed to let CO2 out, but not let air in.
Why is CO2 release important?
Let’s use our Bourbon Barrel Aged Coffee as an example. When you receive your bag of this delicious gourmet coffee, you’ll find a coffee lot number and roasted-on date hand-written on the bag. Our head roasters do that so that you know exactly which lot of coffee your beans came from and the exact day they were roasted.
The thing about freshly roasted coffee is that the beans release CO2 for several more days—or weeks—after initial roasting. It’s a product of the heat-driven reactions inside the beans as they roast.
That cool little valve on coffee bags isn’t so you can squeeze the bag and smell the delicious stuff inside. It works, but that’s not the original purpose. Those valves allow the CO2 to escape before the bags explode. They’re also designed to keep air from entering.
So, storing your coffee in the bags until you open them is your best bet.
Find a Cool, Dark, and Dry Home
You might have a great little nook on the counter between your coffee maker and the stove. Sorry, but please don’t use that as the place to store your coffee.
A stove generates heat, and that heat can accelerate the degradation of your coffee beans. Most counters have exposure to sunlight, which further heats the coffee and whatever contains it. Finally, an open area like that invites more air circulation, which improves the chance of oxidation.
Heat also causes the beans to leech their oils out, which puts those solubles in direct contact with possible oxygen.
Instead of on a counter or out in lit areas, find a cool, dark, dry location inside a cupboard or pantry. If big variations in temperature can be avoided, that will help your coffee’s freshness last longer.
Don’t Freeze Your Coffee, Either
We know, it seems logic would dictate the coolest, darkest place in your house is in your freezer. However, if the container holding your coffee isn’t airtight, that can invite condensation.
It can also let in other, unwanted flavors from the contents of your freezer. Ever defrosted something and noticed it “tastes like the freezer?” That’s what can happen to your coffee, too. .
Purchase Just the Amount You Need
You’d think we’d want you to buy lots and lots of Cooper’s Cask Coffee, right? Well yeah, we do—but only in the quantities you can use when our coffee is at peak freshness.
Stockpiling coffee can save trips and not require reminders in your Google calendar to “get more coffee.” We highly recommend you only buy what you can drink in a couple of weeks to a month. This ensures maximum yum in every correctly brewed cup.
If you’re worried about running out, you should consider our subscription service. With a few simple clicks, you can set the amount of coffee you need, and the frequency of shipments. You won’t need to send reminders or run out of coffee.
Related topic: learn the differences with whole bean vs ground coffee.
Airtight Storage for After the Bag is Opened
We absolutely recommend using airtight containers for your opened coffee beans or ground coffee, with a caveat.
Obviously, airtight containers will stop air from coming into contact with your coffee and thus slow down oxidation. However, keep in mind that our Cooper’s Cask Coffee arrives within 2 to 3 days of having been roasted. Your order is extremely fresh, so it will be releasing CO2 for some time.
There are special containers available through container stores and online that will allow those gasses to vent, but won’t let air back in. Once you open your bag, it won’t be airtight anymore. So if you plan to store the coffee for more than a month to 2 months, you might consider one of these special containers.
Pick the Roast That Stores the Best
Sometimes you’re just going to have to buy a larger amount of coffee than you can reasonably enjoy over a few weeks or months. If that’s the case for you, we humbly recommend purchasing a dark roast coffee.
Though dark roasts will still oxidize like any other coffee, a big part of their flavor profile is the roast itself. Oxidation won’t change the roast level, so even if you’ve gone well past the “best by” date, you’ll still have the roast flavor to rely on when the bean notes themselves have degraded.
How Long Does Coffee Last If It’s Been Brewed?
We all have different personal limits to the flavor we’ll accept from brewed coffee. Brewed coffee is usually best for 20 to 30 minutes in an open container. If you have a sealed carafe or Thermos, you’ve got an hour of peak freshness.
As long as the coffee is black, you can still drink it for a few hours as it sits on the heating unit. By the end of that time, you’ll probably notice a burnt flavor encroaching, which is pretty much exactly what’s happening. Your coffee by this time is overcooked, if still potable.
If you have a sealable container that allows for large temperature variations, you can put your freshly brewed coffee in it and put it in your refrigerator. This cooled coffee can be enjoyed for 2 to 3 days. It won’t be as good as the fresh-brewed version, but it should suffice.
Cold Brewed Lasts Longer
If you like to cold brew coffee, the good flavor will last longer than coffee that was heated before it was cooled. Our Cooper’s Cask Coffee cold brew coffees work great, and keep their enjoyable flavor for 2 to 4 days in a sealed container.
About Storing Liquid Coffee
A quick note about storing your liquid coffee in the refrigerator: avoid using plastic containers. Plastics can absorb previous flavors, and then infuse those old, stale tastes into your new coffee. Try to use metal or glass for your liquid coffee storage.
Single Serve Cups
Our single-serve cups do a great job of preserving the flavors of the ground coffee within them. They allow zero air in or out, and air packed tight so that there’s very little air present inside them, either. They can remain decently fresh for up to a year!
Why Freshness Matters
How long does coffee last? Well, in 2022, an excavation in Melbourne, Australia, unearthed coffee beans that were 167 years old. Note: we wouldn’t drink them. Nope. No way.
And the first roasted coffee ever is reputed to have been created around 1000 a.d. If you found some of those beans in a tomb in the desert, we wouldn’t drink them either. Not even.
Coffee beans arrive with about 11% moisture content. They’re really dry, and they’ll last a long time under the right conditions. But, like we said, it’s the flavor that truly tells us how long coffee lasts. If you can’t drink it, what’s the use?
Freshness Defines Cooper’s Cask Coffee
Most coffee roasters sacrifice quality for convenience, but that’s never been our style. Rather than roasting in bulk and letting them sit in warehouses for weeks on end, Cooper’s Cask Coffee only roasts fresh to order.
We combine the world’s best single origin beans with award winning whiskey and rum barrels to give you unique and delicious ways to start your day.
Try us out. If your current order doesn’t wholly satisfy you, our money back guarantee ensures free returns or exchanges. There’s a reason we have over 7000 4 and 5 star reviews on Amazon. It’s just darned good coffee.
Come get fresh with us. Small batch, big satisfaction. Cooper’s Cask Coffee.