Do Coffee Grounds Go Bad (Can You Drink Expired Coffee)?

By Shabbir
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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? This begs the question: do coffee grounds go bad?

do coffee grounds go bad

Perhaps you may have thought it was your coffee machine. But what if you have a top-notch coffee maker?

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 the questions: Can coffee grounds can go bad, what is the shelf life of coffee, how can you properly store coffee, and some crucial tips and facts.

So, before you brew your next cup of coffee, let’s jump and learn more about the science of keeping your coffee fresh.

So do coffee grounds go bad or not?

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 whole host of other factors.

However, like many other food 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.

Comparative Coffee Expiration Chart

SEALED COFFEE Cooled Shelf Life
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.

Did your coffee go bad?

It’s incredibly difficult to decipher visually whether or not coffee is going bad even after you pass the expiration date, because coffee never really changes until you actually brew it. Old, stale coffee beans will look the same as fresh ones.

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 your ground coffee is losing its powerful aroma, chances are, it’s either incredibly weak or old.

Here’s the sort of silver lining. If you were to accidentally brew a pot of coffee with old or expired coffee grounds, it will not harm you. It’s not going to taste very nice, though.

How do you store coffee to preserve the taste and aroma?

Are you wondering how you can store ground coffee or beans so that you can preserve that delicious taste and mouthwatering aroma?

It’s important to know that the moment that your grind beans into ground coffee, it will begin to lose its taste and aroma because the gases start to dissipate and the compounds begin to degrade.

The best way to enjoy coffee is to grind it just before you brew and store your coffee as coffee beans.

To take this a step further, what we want you to do is consider looking at ground coffee as 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 beans in the freezer can help preserve the flavor and aroma and increase the shelf life? Just make sure it’s stored in an airtight container, otherwise it will absorb any aromas in the freezer.

You can also freeze ground coffee to extend it’s life.  The day before you use it, be sure to thaw it out.

Cabinet Method

The most common method that people use to store their coffee is the cabinet method. Typically, people will store coffee beans and in a regular tin container in their cabinets. It’s important to only store coffee grounds and beans in the cabinet when they are in proper coffee storage container.

What’s the shelf life of brewed coffee?

In this article, we covered ground 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?

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.

If it has milk, it won’t last more than a few hours. If it’s black coffee, the most you can stretch it to is a day, but even then, why drink old coffee when you can drink fresh coffee? Just use it as fertilizer for a plant and brew a new cup!

Here are some neat methods to keep coffee hot (and fresh) for as long as possible.

4 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. 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 for longer.

Here are 5 quick tips to keep your coffee grounds fresher than ever before!

1. Avoid Moisture

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.

2. Avoid Pre-Ground Coffee

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 right before you brew.

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.

3. 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. Ideally, use ones designed for coffee.

4. Avoid Heat

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.


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.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do coffee grounds expire?

Coffee grounds do have an expiration date, but they’ll become stale way before you reach that date. Ideally, you don’t want to buy ground coffee, period. Buy fresh beans and grind them at home.

Can you get sick from old coffee grounds?

Not usually, as coffee grounds don’t become rancid very easily. Be more careful with flavored ground coffee, as those contain oils and spices that can potentially go bad.

What can you do with expired coffee grounds?

There are actually many uses for expired coffee. Use them as fertilizer or for household cleaning. You can see a whole list of ideas on this page.

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About Shabbir

Shab is the Chief Caffeine Officer at Coffee Brewster. When he's not weighing out coffee beans for his next brew, you can find him writing about his passion: coffee.