Does Ground Coffee Go Bad? Shelf Life Explained

Quick summary: Ground coffee will not go bad soon, at least not in a classic way. But the loss of aroma will happen very soon after opening.  

If you’re a coffee lover, as the vast majority are, you don’t have a particular explanation for why you drink it. You simply enjoy the taste, and that daily dose of caffeine seems to give you fuel to get through the day. The longer you are a coffee drinker, the more your senses are tuned to the finesse in its taste. You begin to distinguish the type, the method of preparation, and ultimately whether it is fresh or not.

To immediately answer your doubts, coffee cannot, as a rule, spoil to cause you indigestion. At least not if you stored it properly. We write about this and the rare possibilities of deterioration a little further down in the text. Here we will say that your old coffee is most likely suitable for consumption. Whether it’s tasty is another question. In terms of quality, coffee has an extremely short duration. Not to beat about the bush, let’s go through all the characteristics in order.

How Long Does Ground Coffee Last?

The ground coffee you buy will have a best-by date until which the manufacturer guarantees its quality. Depending on the preparation method, this duration may vary. Here are the guidelines you can follow after purchasing.

Unopened ground coffee

Until opening, ground coffee is well protected in vacuum packaging. As such, it will most likely taste quite good even a few months after the expiration date. Perhaps you can count on three to four months. Here we are talking exclusively about guidelines for good quality. If you are a sophisticated coffee connoisseur, you will most likely become sensitive to the taste even before the expiry date.

Opened ground coffee

After opening, the loss of freshness occurs very quickly. Exposure to air and the drying out of the oils that give it its aroma will start to affect the quality of the brewed coffee, and you’ll want a fresh pack relatively soon. A safe estimate is that you should ideally use the coffee within two weeks to get the best quality. In most cases, however, you can count on a week or so more, with a slight loss of aroma.

Can Ground Coffee Go Bad?

Ground coffee cannot spoil in a classic way, as it would, for example, be the case with milk. Here we are mostly talking about the loss of quality, although when it comes to coffee, it may come down to the same thing, as quality is the main reason you drink it in the first place. However, there are rare cases when coffee actually goes bad and this is mostly due to poor storage conditions. Here are the signs that can reveal it.

Sign 1: It is wet

If your finely ground coffee gets wet, you will have little use for it. This is definitely an invitation to throw the entire packaging in the trash and buy a new one.

Sign 2: Mold appeared 

The appearance of mold will follow due to the long-term presence of moisture. By all means, if you see moldy cobwebs present, throw everything away.

Sign 3: Smell is off

Smell the ground coffee, and if it seems stale and has an unpleasant smell, mold is likely present. You just can’t see it. Stinky coffee would not be a pleasure anyway, so you can throw it away.

Which is the Best Way to Store Ground Coffee?

It is extremely important for ground coffee to be stored appropriately. Any unfavorable environment will have a harmful effect on the quality. And you don’t want lousy coffee to start your day. Here’s what you need to keep in mind.

Tip 1: Store at a suitable temperature

The room temperature where you store coffee must be comfortable. More importantly, it should be relatively stable. You don’t want substantial fluctuations in temperature to bug your coffee daily.

Tip 2: Seal well

It is essential to close the coffee well after opening. Ideally, the container should be airtight. Too much airflow will evaporate the ground coffee beans faster.


How do you know if your ground coffee is bad?

If you smell an unpleasant scent or notice the appearance of mold, you will know that the coffee is spoiled. These are rare occurrences. Most often, you will feel that the coffee no longer tastes good, but it is still safe to drink.

Can you use expired ground coffee?

If it is unopened, the ground coffee will probably taste good for several months after it expires. It’s all a matter of your taste. As long as the flavor suits you, you can drink it.

What happens if you drink expired ground coffee?

Absolutely nothing. You might be grumpy because of the bad taste of the coffee, but you won’t have any more severe consequences than that.

For many people, coffee is a must-have medicine to start the day, and many will drink several cups even before stepping into the office. There is something exceptional about this drink, and there doesn’t seem to be a single good enough reason to turn us away from it. 

Coffee is highly durable if you look at it as a food that can hardly spoil. However, its aromas are pretty fragile and won’t last as long as you might think. Especially not in ground form. Store it properly and use it up within a few weeks after opening to enjoy maximum quality.

For more tips on all types of coffee, read our article: Coffee Shelf Life: How Long Does It Last?

*image by karandaev/depositphotos

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