We can all agree that a delicious and warm cup of coffee is most certainly the cherry on top of a great morning. For most of us, our morning cup of coffee is the motivation for the next step, especially when it’s early in the morning. However, have you ever brewed a cup of coffee, thinking it would be the highlight of your morning just to find out that it tasted horrid?
Perhaps you are like me and you thought it was your coffee machine. But, once you realize that you have a top-notch coffee maker, even brand-new for many people, you begin to wonder the same age-old question that many coffee drinkers ask themselves, “Do coffee grounds go bad?”
In today’s article, we are going to dive in the depth of coffee grounds and beans and get to the root of the conversation. We are going to explore whether coffee grounds can go bad, how you can properly store coffee, and some crucial tips and facts you never knew before. So, before you brew your next cup of coffee, let’s jump and learn more about the science of keeping your coffee fresh.
The Answer: Can Coffee Grounds Go Bad?
The truth is, this age-old question is a loaded one – with many different answers and complexities. The answer is truly dependent upon the circumstance, situation, storage, and a plethora of other factors. However, like many other food-based products, coffee grounds and beans can go bad, if they are not taken care of properly.
Do keep in mind, when you purchase coffee grounds or beans from the store, they do come with an expiration date. Take a look at our comparative chart of coffee expiration on coffee grounds and beans. Please note, we did not account for instant coffee as that is nearly immeasurable.
Comparative Coffee Expiration Chart
|Coffee Grounds||1-2 years||3-5 months|
|Coffee Beans||2-3 years||6-9 months|
|Coffee Grounds||3-5 months||3-5 months|
|Coffee Beans||2 years||6 months|
So, it’s always important to understand what the shelf-life is of a specific coffee product. At the same time, it’s also important to know precisely how to take care of coffee and when coffee has gone bad.
How do you know if your coffee went bad?
Coffee is most certainly one of the most unique commodities on the market. It’s incredibly difficult to decipher visually whether or not the product is going bad because coffee never really changes, unless it’s utilized in a coffee or espresso maker. The truth is, one-year old coffee grounds will look the same as freshly grounded coffee beans.
With that being said, there is one way that coffee drinkers can quickly figure out whether their coffee is starting to go bad. What’s one characteristic of coffee that all java drinkers love? The scent! The aroma of coffee is such a distinct scent and, if coffee grounds are losing it’s powerful aroma, chances are, it’s either incredibly weak or old. In light of this, if you tried to brew old grounds or beans, it would not have much of a taste, or smell.
Now, it’s important to clear up one common myth that many people have. If you were to accidentally brew a pot of coffee with old coffee grounds, it will not harm you. However, you will most likely be discontent with your cup of joe, seeking an extra cup through-out the day or wanting something slightly stronger.
What many coffee experts suggest is that, if you plan to have a fresh cup of joe, the moment that you are done grinding coffee beans, use the grounds immediately. Reason being, the moment that the coffee undergoes this transformation, oils in the coffee beans begin to evaporate, which is why coffee and espresso machines that perform grind-to-brew actions are more expensive.
How do you store coffee to preserve the taste and aroma?
Are you wondering how you can store your coffee grounds or beans now so that you can preserve that delicious taste and mouthwatering aroma? Well, there are a couple of different proven methods that many professional coffee companies utilize to ensure maximum quality. Now, as we state above, it’s important to know that, the moment that coffee is grinded, it will begin to lose this taste and aroma. So, if you are looking to become a coffee aficionado, it’s highly suggested to ONLY grind enough coffee beans that you need to brew a pot of coffee. If you choose to grind all of the beans, the moment that the whole bean is grinded, it’s important to quickly begin processing the grounds and storing them.
To take this a step further, what we want you to do is consider looking at coffee grounds like a spice. If you are not familiar, the best way to take care of any spice is within a tight, vacuum sealed if possible, container. Once stored in a air-sealed tight container, there are a few different ways to store it to extend it’s flavor and aroma.
- Freezer Method
This might come as a shock to many coffee drinkers; however, did you know that storing your coffee grounds in the freezer can help preserve the flavor and aroma? Many experts often refer to the freezer method as the best method as it keeps the flavor and aroma intact slightly longer than any other storing method. On top of this, if you place coffee grounds in the freezer, you won’t need to defrost then.
- Cabinet Method
The most common method that people use to store their coffee is the cabinet method. Typically, people will grind coffee beans and simply store them in a regular tin container in their cabinets. While it is often what’s promoted in stores and online, it’s important to only store coffee grounds and beans in the cabinet when they are in an air-tight container. On top of this, it’s highly recommended to stay away from glass or plastic containers. Try to find high-quality ceramic containers.
What about brewed coffee?
In this article, we covered the grounds of coffee and how to know when it’s bad and how to properly store it. However, If you are like most coffee drinkers, you still might be wondering, what about my brewed cup of coffee – does that go bad too? Like coffee grounds, the answer is quite complex and there are different aging periods, depending on how you store brewed coffee.
With that being said, it’s evident that brewed coffee will go bad much faster than any other form of coffee given that it’s already prepared, and potentially has milk or creamer in it. With that being said, typically, brewed coffee can last a maximum of 4 days if it is stored in a safe container in the refrigerator. However, if you leave the coffee in it’s pot, you should really only keep it for 12 hours. After the 12-hour marker, brewed coffee quickly deteriorates, loses its flavor and aroma, and may leave a bitter taste on your tongue. With that being said, it’s important to keep in mind the time frame that you plan to drink from a pot of coffee.
Now, are you the type of coffee drinker that likes to casually drink their coffee and warm it up in the microwave when it’s cold? If you do, you should know that, this process actually ruins your cup of coffee. If you are planning on microwaving a cup of coffee, it’s better to pour a fresh cup from the pot of coffee. As a rule of thumb, many experts in the field have mention that, once coffee has gone cold, which typically takes between 30 minutes to and hour, you should pour it out and replace it.
5 Tips to Keep Coffee Fresh
The best way to enjoy any morning cup of coffee is when it’s fresh and the aroma fills the air of your home and car. Now that you are caught up to speed with everything that has to do with coffee going bad, we thought it would be a great idea to share some useful tips to keep your coffee fresh, longer. Here are 5 quick tips to keep your coffee grounds fresher than ever before!
One of the best ways to keep your coffee beans and grounds fresh is to avoid moisture during the storage process. The best way to avoid moisture is to purchase containers that are designed to keep moisture and air out. If you are not careful, you risk the flavor and the aroma of the coffee spoiling and aging quicker.
Avoid Pre-Ground Coffee Grounds
If you are looking for a fresh cup of joe, avoid pre-ground coffee at all costs. The best way to ensure the freshest batch of coffee grounds is to purchase fresh beans from a coffee store and grind them at your own accord. Again, as we discussed earlier in the article, it’s recommended to only grind enough coffee beans per pot of coffee you are brewing. This is to ensure the purest and strongest form of coffee.
Utilize the Right Containers
While it might seem evident, utilizing the right containers is essential for storing coffee grounds. It’s highly advised to only use air-tight containers that match the quantity of coffee inside. In other words, if you are only storing a cup of coffee grounds, there is no need for an incredibly large container.
If you want to keep your coffee grounds fresh, keep your container or bag away from heat at all costs. It’s advised to store your container in a cooler area, whether that be the freezer or a cabinet where it’s naturally cool. When you place coffee grounds in an area where it get’s warm, it can compromise the oils and the strength of the coffee, making the grounds age faster than normal.
Don’t Transfer Grounds
A grave mistake that many homeowners make when taking care of their coffee is purchasing coffee grounds or beans, and then transferring them into an additional container or bag. It efforts to main the integrity and strength of the coffee, you should always keep the coffee in it’s original container, if feasible. If you do transfer coffee grounds, each time you do, you risk the aroma and flavor escaping.
Knowing Your Coffee Pays Off!
Any true coffee aficionado would tell you that it’s essential to know your coffee. We are talking about understanding the roast, expiration date, freshness, style of bean – everything! On top of this, it’s important to know how to take care of your coffee. Have you ever walked into a coffee shop that did not take care of their coffee? Of course not! It’s their main profit-driver – so, of course they would take care of it.
If you take this into consideration, understanding that coffee grounds can and will go bad, it’s important that you too take care of your coffee grounds and store it properly. This way, not only can you preserve your coffee, you can enjoy a fresh cup of coffee every day. That’s why it’s true that knowing your coffee pays off. How? Each morning you will enjoy the freshest cup of coffee, expressing gratitude knowing that you properly take care of your coffee and can brew like the experts!