Will Ground Coffee Ever Go Bad? How to Store Coffee Correctly

Last Updated on June 27, 2023 by Barry Gray

Anything we consume has a maximum shelf life before it starts to go bad, and ground coffee is no different. However, I have realized the way I store my ground coffee makes a huge difference to the length of time it can be kept before I start noticing a difference in the taste.

So, let me take you through when ground coffee will go bad and what you can do to stop it.

A packet of ground coffee will start to lose some of its freshness and flavor only a week after opening. The main difference you will experience is in the taste rather than anything else. But storing your coffee in the right conditions can extend this time resulting in you getting a nice cup of coffee at home.

I’ve experimented with different storage methods while also examining how long it takes before I notice a difference in the quality of the coffee I’m drinking.

Throughout my experiments, I discovered a range of different outcomes allowing me to get better insight into how you can successfully extend the lifespan of your ground coffee.

But first, let me explain what’s going on with your ground coffee.

ground coffee on cup

Does Ground Coffee Go Bad?

Coffee does go bad, but by that I mean it loses some of its flavor and taste rather than anything else.

The problem is you are dealing with a bean. Even after roasting, coffee loses some of its freshness, so it’s no surprise that it continues deteriorating after the grinding process.

But I have a real problem here.

If you spend time checking out what people say regarding the time span before ground coffee goes bad, you get different answers. I hate that fact because you feel you have no idea what’s going on. 

And do you know what I hate most?

I’m not talking about a day or two of a difference. Instead, I’ve seen people mention ground coffee can last for five or six months before it goes bad and that this will happen under any conditions.

I can’t entirely agree with that.

Air and moisture are huge enemies for any type of coffee, and the ground version is no different. I just find it impossible to keep ground coffee in poor conditions and for it to still taste the same months later.

Why Does Ground Coffee Go Bad?

americano coffee

Before I can go ahead and tell you how to extend the lifespan of your ground coffee, I need to get scientific. Don’t worry; I will keep it short as I’m not too fond of science.

I just mentioned how both oxygen and moisture are the enemies of coffee, and they both have an impact on the freshness and taste of ground coffee. The problem is that grinding coffee results in you kickstarting various chemical reactions, ultimately deteriorating your coffee.

You cannot stop this, but you can slow it down.

Air and moisture pushes a chemical reaction, and your coffee sees an increase in acidity. This then changes the taste.

How Does Bad Ground Coffee Taste?

In my experience, ground coffee that has gone bad tastes bland and lacks that punch. I always feel disappointed as the flavor diminishes quite considerably. 

I admit this is easier to notice when you already know what the coffee tastes like when it’s fresh. If you discover that it tastes weak and less flavorful, it often means your ground coffee has turned.

Sadly, I have not found any method to resurrect your coffee once it has taken that turn. At that point, it’s best to throw it out and get some additional coffee.

How Long Does Your Freshly Ground Coffee Last?

I want to focus on that moment where you get your roasted coffee beans, take them out of the bag, and grind them yourself. How long will your freshly ground coffee last?

To help, I ground the same coffee beans and packaged them for use at different times. I felt that was the best way to determine how the flavor changed, and I noticed some real differences.

What I found was it’s best to use the coffee as close to the grind date as possible. After seven days, the flavor remained the same.

I felt even after 14 days, the taste wasn’t too bad. Once I got past that 14 days, I felt the flavor of the coffee started to lose some of its edge.

However, I know some people with less coffee experience may not notice a difference until long after those 14 days.

So, the main conclusion I had to draw was that you should try to use your ground coffee as quickly as possible.

That is why it’s best to grind coffee in small batches that you know you will be able to use over a short period to ensure you get the best possible taste.

How to Preserve Your Coffee

wrong containers for storing coffee

I think I’ve managed to convince you that your ground coffee will go bad over time, but I’ve also stated it’s possible to extend the shelf life of the coffee.

So, this is how I do it to ensure my coffee continues to taste fantastic for as long as possible.

Airtight Container is the Best Solution

The best solution is an airtight container, which makes a lot of sense.

After all, the air is your biggest enemy when it comes to your ground coffee, so reducing the chances of air getting to the coffee is the logical thing to do.

But I would ensure I used a quality airtight container.

Inexpensive containers are often guilty of leaking and are not as airtight as you would like. That’s a problem because you suddenly go to make coffee and discover with the first sip that something has gone wrong.

I want to help you avoid that happening to you.

There’s nothing worse than looking forward to some coffee, and then the end result is nothing more than a colossal disappointment.

So, I would invest in airtight containers with a reputation for offering a great seal. This is where your research on uncovering the best containers will really make a difference.

Can You Vacuum-Seal Ground Coffee?

vacuum seal coffee

If you are like me and tend to buy coffee in slightly larger quantities than most people, then the need to preserve your coffee for longer is important.

One option is dividing your coffee into smaller amounts and vacuum-sealing the bag.

When you do this, you can increase the lifespan of the coffee for several months. Some argue this method can last up to 6 months, but I feel that’s pushing the limit.

Also, I’ve noticed some people stating their coffee was still decent 2 years later, but that’s not something I would recommend.

But I suggest using this method if you want to preserve your ground coffee for as long as possible.

It eliminates air and does so 100%, so you have nothing to worry about regarding freshness.

Can You Freeze Ground Coffee?

You may have read elsewhere on the website a post regarding the possibility of freezing coffee beans, but what about ground coffee?

Some people argue you can freeze ground coffee and extend its lifespan to well over a year. I can see why this would be the case.

Still, you need to combine the vacuum-seal method with the freezing method to last for well over a year in the freezer.

If you do not vacuum-seal your coffee first, then it will last for a maximum of 6 months in the freezer before it starts to really deteriorate and lead to a relatively poor coffee.

How Do You Use Frozen Ground Coffee?

When you freeze ground coffee, you can do so in larger quantities than you think. I don’t have a problem with this because of how you then deal with frozen coffee when it gets to the point of using it.

The key is to remove coffee that you can use that week, and then vacuum seal the bag again and place it back in the freezer.

Again, always vacuum seal, or moisture will get into the bag, and that causes problems even when frozen.

I would try to use this coffee as quickly as possible.

As it thaws, you will find moisture starts to build, and it does kickstart that entire process whereby the quality of your coffee drops.

That’s why you need to remove only a small amount, or you will run the risk of losing so much coffee, and nobody wants that to happen. 

Can You Refrigerate Ground Coffee?

I’ve had people ask me in the past whether or not you can refrigerate ground coffee, and my answer here is you should never refrigerate ground coffee.

The problem with this approach is how moisture will be drawn to the container, which will not end well.

The only way you could actually refrigerate it is if you vacuum-seal the package. Still, it won’t completely reduce the chances of water molecules forming in your coffee.

It’s either an airtight container and used quickly or vacuum-sealed and in the freezer that will work.

A Recap on Ground Coffee and it Going Bad

So, to recap, I think these points are the most important things I hope you take away from reading this post.

  • Ground coffee does go bad thanks to chemical reactions
  • It’s best to consume ground coffee within 14 days of grinding
  • Airtight containers can make it last longer than 14 days
  • Vacuum-seal ground coffee to make it last several months
  • Freeze vacuum-sealed coffee to make it last over a year
  • If exposed to air and moisture, the coffee will lose some punch
  • Preserve in small quantities to make it easier to use in the future

Trying to keep as much flavor in your ground coffee is an issue we all have to contend with. However, by following the tips I’ve mentioned above, it should be entirely possible to keep as much flavor as possible for as long as possible.

To Conclude

Ground coffee will indeed go bad over time, changing how it tastes and possibly even ruining your coffee-drinking experience. However, correctly storing your ground coffee does make a difference, and I’d suggest using some of the tips and methods I’ve mentioned above.

At the end of the day, we all want to get the best experience possible from coffee, and as it focuses on flavor, then that is where your focus needs to be.