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How Long Does Ground Coffee Last? Facts & FAQ

spoon with ground coffee over the white empty cup

Unless you’re a true coffee addict, you probably want your morning cup of joe to taste good. That’s why you’ll need to know how long you can keep ground coffee — and how to make sure you’re getting the most out of your beans.

Keep reading to learn how long ground coffee lasts and how to extend that timeframe. Coffee’s delicious — let’s keep it that way! Ground coffee tastes best for the first 20 minutes after grinding. If you buy pre-ground coffee, it will last up to a year unopened and up to two weeks after opening. 

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How long does freshly ground coffee last?

Once you grind your coffee beans, you have about 20 minutes to brew them if you want the best flavor. When the ground beans encounter oxygen, they immediately start to break down (called oxidizing). After 20 minutes, your grounds will be noticeably staler and less flavorful.

However, your ground coffee won’t spoil or become unsafe to brew. Technically, ground coffee can last years — as long as you store it well — though it will get less flavorful the longer you keep it.

coffee beans and ground coffee
Image Credit: wideonet, Shutterstock

How Long Does Unopened Ground Coffee Last?

If you don’t have a grinder and prefer the convenience of pre-ground coffee, your coffee can last a long time. In an unopened bag, ground coffee will last a year or more. Once you open the bag, your coffee should maintain decent flavor for up to two weeks.

Most manufacturers recommend using the coffee within 3 to 5 months after the sell-by date on the package. If you purchase the coffee as soon as it arrives at the grocery store, you’ll get a little longer because you’ll be well ahead of the sell-by date. It’s also good to check the sell-by date on different packages to ensure that you get the freshest one.

Another option? Buy a bag of whole bean coffee but grind it at the store. Many grocery stores offer grinders for customer use — typically in the coffee aisle. Grab a bag off the shelf, pour it through the grinder at your preferred grind size, and then buy the bag of freshly ground coffee. This way, you know your coffee will likely be fresh for longer because it has just been ground — as opposed to the beans that may have been ground weeks or months ago.

coffee pack or bag with coffee machine in background
Image Credit: Skumer, Shutterstock

What about K-Cups?

K-Cups and other coffee pods contain ground coffee, but they’re typically vacuum-sealed, which keeps them fresh much longer. No oxygen can get into the plastic and foil cups, so the beans can’t oxidize. That’s why you can keep K-Cups for a year or longer without losing too much flavor.

Can you make ground coffee last longer?

The best way to keep your coffee fresh for longer is to buy and store it in whole beans. When you’re ready for a cup of coffee, throw them in a coffee grinder (preferably a burr model). This reduces the amount of time your beans will spend ground — keeping them much fresher and tastier.

Whole bean coffee also goes stale when exposed to oxygen, but it takes longer to oxidize than ground coffee. That’s why coffee bags often arrive vacuum-sealed with one-way valves, allowing carbon dioxide to escape but keeping oxygen from entering.

pouch bags with coffee beans
Image Credit: KawaiiS, Shutterstock

What’s the best way to store coffee?

Store your coffee (whole or ground) in airtight containers. This will keep damaging elements like oxygen and water out and protect the beans. Don’t keep your coffee in the freezer or refrigerator — the changing temperature can cause condensation, which can ruin your beans.

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Ground Coffee & Freshness: The Bottom Line

Ground coffee lasts up to two weeks after you open the bag, but you’ll get the best flavor within 20 minutes of grinding the beans. That’s why we always recommend buying whole bean coffee and grinding it just before brewing. Store ground coffee at room temperature in an airtight container. And keep in mind that ground coffee doesn’t actually go bad — but it probably won’t be worth drinking if you wait too long. Purchasing whole beans will give you the longest lifespan, up to a year, and will provide the best flavor.

Ground coffee beans will remain fresh 3–5 months past the sell-by date on the package; however, the flavor will deteriorate quickly once you open it. Keeping the coffee in an airtight container will help it stay fresh longer whether you open it or not.

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Featured Image Credit: Vitalii Stock, Shutterstock

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Kate MacDonnell

Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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