How To Store Coffee Long-Term | Build a Stash

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Key Takeaways

  • To store coffee long-term, keep it in air-tight containers, in a cool and dry place, and away from direct light.
  • Buy green coffee beans or instant coffee to secure the shelf life of coffee for 5 to 20+ years without needing to commit to extensive food storage conditions.
  • Freezing coffee in an air-tight container is the best way to achieve an indefinite shelf life, regardless of which coffee product you choose.

There are a lot of things I can live without, but coffee is not one of them. That’s why I store enough coffee at home to outlast the apocalypse.

To store coffee long-term, keep it in air-tight containers, in a cool and dry place, and away from direct light. In addition, buying green coffee beans or instant coffee will secure the shelf life of coffee for 5 to 20+ years without needing to commit to extensive food storage conditions.

After extensively researching food storage systems, I have gathered enough information to determine how to store coffee long-term. My research has indicated that although coffee is quite easy to store, you still need to take measures to ensure that you are maximizing its shelf life.

Table of contents


Does Coffee Expire?

There is a lot of misinformation regarding coffee’s expiration date. Some people say that you need to consume it within 4 to 5 months - whereas others claim that it has an indefinite shelf life.

The truth is that although coffee can last for a long time, it will eventually go bad. Virtually every bag of coffee that you buy will have a printed expiration date, but this is rarely accurate for determining how long coffee will last.

With that said, it’s important to keep in mind that coffee may become less flavorful and aromatic over time. Coffee generally tastes best when consumed within 1 to 2 weeks after you open it, which is much sooner than the printed expiration date.

If you love the taste of fresh coffee, the opportunity to enjoy it at its maximum freshness is short-lived, and many people would argue that you have just a couple of weeks until it loses potency and flavor.

How Long Does Coffee Last?

When kept in ideal storage conditions, coffee can potentially last as long as 20+ years. However, to understand how long coffee actually lasts, we need to consider what makes it go bad.

Coffee begins to lose its flavor and aroma when it oxidizes. As soon as you open up that bag of beans or grounds, the oxidization process has begun and the coffee will start to get worse over time. That is why preventing oxidization is essential for achieving a maximum shelf life with your coffee.

The advertised expiration date on most coffee products is roughly 6 to 12 months after the roast date. This is rarely, if ever, accurate, and the coffee will likely last for at least 1 to 2 years without any risk of contamination. It takes a long time for coffee to legitimately go rancid, with most beans having an indefinite shelf life in the right storage conditions.

We also need to keep in mind that there are various types of coffee products out there. Some people prefer to buy their beans whole - whereas others like them pre-ground. At the end of the day, each type of coffee will have a different shelf life, which can make a huge difference in how long it lasts in your food storage stockpile. Buying the right beans and storing them properly is the ultimate way to achieve long-term coffee storage.

Instant Coffee (2 to 20 Years)

Say what you want about instant coffee, but I would argue that this is one of the safest and surest ways to have a cup of joe during a disaster. Instant coffee has an impressive shelf life of 2 to 20 years, which you can achieve without having to commit to thorough food storage protocols.

The main reason that instant coffee has such a long shelf life is that it underwent a freeze-drying or spray drying process. This essentially removes all moisture from the coffee, leaving you with a dry product that is perfect for long-term storage.

With that said, if you want your instant coffee to last upwards of a decade or more, it is best to leave it unopened. Much like with any food product, instant coffee will be affected by oxidization, especially if there is moisture in the air, such as in humid climates. You can expect the following shelf life for instant coffee based on whether it is opened or sealed:

  • Opened Instant Coffee - 2 to 5+ years
  • Unopened Instant Coffee - 5 to 20+ years

Coffee snobs may not agree with this, but instant coffee is hands down the most reliable way to enjoy a cup of joe while you wait out the apocalypse. It’s easy to store, has a prolonged or indefinite shelf life, and you only need hot water to make it.

Coffee Grounds (5 months to 2 years)

Whether you like yours via drip, espresso, or percolator, coffee grounds are a crowd favorite among caffeine addicts. You can skip the grinding process, which makes getting your daily cup in that much quicker.

Although coffee grounds are convenient, they are not the best option for long-term storage. Ground coffee oxidizes quicker once its opened, resulting in a much shorter shelf life. Given that the beans have been ground, they are more exposed to moisture and air, which is why preppers tend to avoid grounds.

The actual expiration date of ground coffee can vary depending on whether the packaging has been opened. You can expect the following shelf life with ground coffee:

  • Opened Ground Coffee - 5 months to 1 year
  • Unopened Ground Coffee - 1 to 2 years

If you are planning a food storage system for a 1 to 2-year period, ground coffee is perfectly fine, especially if you circulate your stock with what you drink at home. It’s important to understand that even though ground coffee technically expires after 2 years, it will still be safe to drink. afterward.

Whole Roasted Coffee Beans (8 months to 2 years)

If you are a real coffee lover who can’t resist the flavor of a freshly ground cup in the morning, roasted beans will be an essential part of your stockpile. Naturally, you need to have a coffee grinder handy if you want to use your beans, but it is a small price to pay to enjoy a premium cup of coffee during an emergency.

Coffee snobs can rejoice in whole roasted beans having a slightly longer shelf life, making them more reliable for long-term storage. Since whole roasted beans are not ground, they will oxidize at a slower pace, giving you more time to enjoy caffeine in your life before the flavor starts to diminish. This is how long you can expect your whole roasted coffee beans to last:

  • Opened Whole Roasted Coffee Beans - 6 months to 1 year
  • Unopened Whole Roasted Coffee Beans - 9 months to 2 years

Although the flavor and aroma will be noticeably gone after a 2-year period, whole roasted coffee beans can be safely consumed long past this expected expiration date. With the right storage conditions, you can achieve an indefinite shelf life with whole-roasted coffee beans.

Green Coffee Beans (1 to 20+ years)

A lot of people have never heard of green coffee beans because they are used to buying their beans pre-roasted. However, if you want the best shelf life possible without resorting to instant coffee, green beans are the way to go.

Green coffee beans can last for decades before they start to go bad, which is why survivalists who love coffee stock up their food storage system with pre-roasted beans. Now, although green coffee beans are excellent for long-term storage, they are more work.

Unlike most coffee products that you see in stores, green beans have not been roasted, which means that you will have to do the roasting yourself. This requires additional machinery and roasting knowledge, but it can be done. This is the expected shelf life of green coffee beans:

  • Opened Green Coffee Beans - 1+ year
  • Unopened Green Coffee Beans - 5 to 20+ years

The reason that green coffee beans can last for so long is that they are raw and unroasted. When coffee goes through the roasting process, the oils become less stable, which results in a shorter expiration date.

How to Store Coffee Long-Term

Although food storage is all about buying necessary goods for a disaster scenario, most of us would agree that life without coffee just wouldn’t be the same. At the end of the day, there isn’t much point in surviving the apocalypse if you can’t have a morning cup of joe, is there?

Luckily, coffee is a food storage item that can last a long time, even without taking measures to maximize its shelf. However, if you want to make your coffee last as long as possible, implementing some food storage practices can make a huge difference in whether your coffee is good in 1 to 2 years or 10 to 20 years. Let’s dive into how you can store coffee long-term.

Storage Conditions

It doesn’t matter which type of coffee you buy, if it's not stored in the right conditions, the shelf life will be mediocre at best.

As a dedicated survivalist and prepper, I secure the shelf life of my coffee by creating a food storage system that prevents exposure to external conditions such as oxidization and moisture.

Air Tight

Keeping your coffee away from oxygen will be crucial if you want to achieve long-term storage. Once the coffee is exposed to air, it will begin to lose its quality, and will eventually expire.

That is why I recommend one of the following methods for air-tight storage:

  • Mylar Bags
  • Vacuum Sealing
  • Air Tight Containers

Each method works great, but I’ve found that mylar bags and vacuum sealing tend to be the best. If you want to enhance the air-tight storage conditions even further, I recommend using oxygen absorbers with whichever method you choose.

Cool & Away from Light

Once the coffee is air-tight, you want to make sure that the storage conditions are cool. Warm temperatures are a big no-no for food storage systems, as this is how you encourage bacteria to spread and contaminate your stock.

Ideally, the temperature of the room that you choose should not exceed 50 to 70 F. However, you should be okay if the room temp stays below 85 F in most cases.

Another thing to keep in mind is to avoid light. Direct light will make your coffee lose its flavor and aroma much quicker, which sabotages its quality.

Storage Locations

Choosing the right storage location for your coffee grounds is relatively flexible so long as the storage conditions are stable and ideal.

Long-term coffee storage is optimal in cool and dry places that are away from light. If those boxes are ticked and the coffee is air-tight, you should be able to achieve a nearly indefinite shelf life with most coffee products. These are some of the best locations to store coffee long-term:

  • Basement
  • Pantry
  • Freezer

If your goal is to maximize the shelf life of your coffee, freezing is the ultimate way to do it. By freezing your coffee in an air-tight container, the shelf life will be indefinite.

Buy the Right Coffee

As I mentioned, each coffee product has a different shelf life. Although we would all love to have freshly ground coffee every morning during a disaster, this may not be the most practical approach for staying caffeinated.

If you truly want to achieve long-term coffee storage, you should consider buying a product that is going to last for decades, such as:

  • Instant Coffee
  • Green Coffee Beans

The right storage conditions can make a huge difference in how long coffee lasts. However, buying the right coffee can sometimes be equally as important.