If you’re looking to stock up on staples for your pantry and save money at the same time, shopping in bulk is one way to do both at the same time.
You may be tempted to buy larger bags of coffee in bulk to save money on your grocery bill and ensure you always have some fresh grounds on hand in the morning.
Many retailers offer a bulk discount on larger bags and cans of pre-ground coffee, making it the economical choice for large households or workplaces.
If you do buy larger quantities of ground coffee than normal, you’re probably wondering how long it will stay fresh in storage.
The answer depends on a few different things, including how and where you keep the ground coffee before you open and start using it.
On average, ground coffee will not last as long as whole bean varieties because once the beans are ground, they will start to release CO2 and absorb oxygen, which takes away from the natural taste and flavor.
However, with proper storage and precautions taken, there are ways to ensure that your coffee grounds stay fresh and taste good when you are ready to use them.
Keeping Ground Coffee in the Package
Many consumers make the mistake of keeping their coffee in the bag they purchase it in until they are ready to use it.
This is not the best approach if you plan to keep the coffee for a long time.
When pre-ground coffee is shipped to the store from the manufacturer, its typically vacuum sealed and packed into a container that keeps it sealed and protected.
The outside of the bag is typically made of plastic and lined in foil.
In some cases, there is a small round plastic vent built in to the package on one side.
The material that makes up the bag is designed to protect the grounds from air and other elements, but it’s not designed for long term storage.
The vent allows CO2 output from the ground beans to escape the bag while stopping air from getting in.
This is designed to combat the degradation of beans and buildup of CO2, which can cause the bag to explode in extreme cases.
You can keep it in this bag until you are ready to use it, but this isn’t advisable if you are going to store it for longer than a few weeks at a time.
The outer plastic can degrade and fail to protect the coffee as well over time, especially if you keep the temperature in your home high.
This leads to the coffee tasting stale when you make it, even if the bag stays sealed the entire time you have it stored.
If you plan to open and close the bag each time you use it, air will definitely get in and impact the taste of the grounds.
Storage Options for Ground Coffee
Coffee manufacturers recommend storing ground coffee where it can’t be exposed to any of the things that cause it to lose freshness, including air, direct sunlight and high levels of moisture.
Once the coffee has been exposed to these elements, it can lose the strong flavor profile it is supposed to have and start to taste old.
To protect your coffee grounds from tasting bland or stale, store them in an airtight container, like a canister, Tupperware container or another sealed storage vessel.
You can also purchase a specially designed coffee storage container that has a built-in vent, similar to high-end coffee bags, allowing the CO2 to escape.
Put this closed container in a cool dark place, like the back of your pantry or closet, to extend the life of the grounds as long as possible.
If excess moisture is not an issue, you can use shelving in the garage or basement to store the grounds.
Though you may have heard of people keeping their coffee in the fridge or freezer to help it stay cool, this is not the greatest idea thanks to the high level of moisture inside the fridge or freezer.
Since the bag is not designed to protect against constant moisture exposure, the humidity can easily get inside the packaging, ruining the flavor profile of the coffee.
How Long Do Coffee Pods Last?
Single serve coffee pods, like the ones designed for use with a Keurig coffee maker, contain only enough ground coffee to make a single serving.
These pods are designed to last for a long time, and precautions are taken to make them last longer than the average bag of coffee.
Before they are sealed, the inside of the coffee pod is rinsed with nitrogen, which removes any excess oxygen from the ground coffee.
After that, its vacuum sealed to preserve the flavors inside against degradation until the pod is ready to use.
Because the package is not opened repeatedly before brewing, the way a bag of coffee often is, single serve coffee pods can last much longer in the pantry, up to several months.
The vacuum seal is only broken when you put the coffee pod into the single serve maker and get ready to make an individual cup of coffee, so it stays preserved until that moment.
With proper precautions and an appropriate place to store the coffee grounds, they can last for many months without tasting stale or old prematurely.
If you find that even with these tips, your coffee isn’t lasting as long as you’d like, consider switching to purchasing whole beans and grinding them yourself.
While this may take a little more time and effort, the whole beans will stay fresh much longer, making each cup of coffee taste better.