Long Term Coffee Storage: How to Keep It Fresh for Years

Coffee isn’t a food necessity, but if a large-scale disaster were to hit, I wouldn’t want to go without it (and my family certainly wouldn’t want to deal with me going through coffee withdrawal!).

So, I’ve made sure to have a large stockpile of coffee on hand. Luckily, storing coffee long-term is pretty straightforward.

Here’s what you need to know to store coffee for 25+ years.

Does Coffee Go Bad?

Contrary to common belief, coffee can go bad. Like other beans, coffee contains natural oils. When exposed to air, the oils start to oxidize and eventually go rancid. Even when the coffee is stored away from oxygen, the coffee beans can still go rancid because of compounds produced from the roasting process.

Luckily, it usually takes a very long time for coffee beans to go rancid. This is why many people and even coffee manufacturers say it is safe to use expired coffee. However, long before the coffee goes rancid, it will lose its taste and aroma due to “gassing off.” This stale coffee is still safe to consume but less enjoyable to drink.

Coffee Shelf Life

Before we get into storage conditions, it’s important to note that certain types of coffee will naturally last longer than others.

Ground Coffee Beans

Ground coffee beans

  • Unopened, in Pantry: 5 months past best-by date
  • Opened, in Pantry: 3-5 months past best-by date

There are two main reasons that ground coffee will lose flavor and go bad. Firstly, the beans are roasted. The roasting process uses heat, it triggers a chemical reaction that causes the natural oils to break down.

Secondly, grinding breaks down coffee beans, so it has more surface area. This means more of the coffee will be exposed to air, causing it to gas off and oxidize faster.   The coffee should still be safe to consume for several years after its “best by” date but may have already lost much of its flavor.

Whole Roasted Coffee Beans

Coffee beans

  • Unopened, in Pantry: 12-24 months past best-by date
  • Opened, in Pantry: 6-12 months past best-by date

Whole coffee beans will last a lot longer than ground coffee. However, like with ground coffee, roasted whole beans will still eventually go bad.

Instant Coffee

Instant coffee granules

  • Unopened, in Pantry: 10+ years past best-by date
  • Opened, in Pantry: 1-10+ years past best-by date

Instant coffee is made by freeze-drying or spray-drying. The process removes all moisture from the coffee and creates a shelf-stable product. Unopened, instant coffee can last for years or decades without any special storage.   Once you open instant coffee, it can still last for years – but there’s a big potential issue.

Once opened, instant coffee will start to absorb moisture from the air. In humid areas (like Florida), the coffee can get very wet and begin to go bad quickly. If you want to store instant coffee long-term, keep it in its original packaging or repackage it in an air-tight container. Ideally, you should package it on a low-humidity day.

Green Coffee Beans

green coffee beans

  • Unopened, in Pantry: 5+ years past best-by date
  • Opened, in Pantry: 12+ months past best-by date

Green coffee beans haven’t been roasted, so their natural oils are more stable. Because of this, green coffee beans can last for a very long time and are best for long-term storage.

You’ll want to store them like other dry beans – in a food storage container, preferably without oxygen and away from heat and light.

How to Store Coffee Long Term

If you want to store coffee long-term, you’ll need to protect it from oxygen, light, moisture, and heat. Here are some of the best ways to store coffee, so it lasts years or even decades.

Option 1: Freezer

Coffee has very little moisture in it. Because of this, you don’t have to worry about it getting freezer burned.   It will stay fresh for years in the freezer.

One potential issue with storing coffee in the freezer is that it can absorb smells from other items. If you keep your coffee next to leftover steaks, for example, the coffee can get a funky aroma.

To prevent this, store coffee in sealed non-permeable bags (won’t let gasses through). Some coffee already comes in these bags (the metal-looking bags) and can go straight into the freezer. Once you remove the coffee beans from the freezer, let them get to room temperature before opening. Otherwise, they will absorb humidity and start to go bad.

Option 2: Air-Tight Containers

Once you’ve opened a bag of coffee, put it in air-tight containers. This isn’t the ideal solution for coffee because there will still be oxygen in the container. However, it will help slow down the oxidation and gassing-off process.   If you have a large number of coffee beans, you could even store them in buckets with gamma lids.

Option 3: Vacuum Sealing

Good-quality coffee comes in vacuum-sealed packaging. This packaging helps protect against oxidation. You can also vacuum seal bulk coffee beans or open packages of coffee to keep it fresh longer.

Note that coffee beans and grounds have air inside of them. Vacuum sealing will only remove air around the coffee. Home vacuum sealer bags are also semi-porous and will eventually allow coffee aromas to escape. So, while this is a better method than storing coffee in opened packages, the coffee will still go stale after a couple years.

Option 4: Nitrogen-Flushed Coffee

Nitrogen flushing is a method of removing oxygen from coffee packaging. Very good-quality brands of coffee use this method. It is done immediately after roasting the coffee, so it is stored at its maximum freshness.

Because coffee beans “gas off” after roasting (air from inside the beans moves outwards), nitrogen-flushed bags would explode if left to sit long enough. To prevent this, manufacturers will put a one-way valve on the bags to let the gases escape. By comparison, vacuum-sealed coffee is usually packaged after the beans have had a chance to gas off; no valve is required, but the beans aren’t as fresh when packaged.

Simply by choosing nitrogen-flushed coffee (look for the one-way valve on the bag), you’ll get a fresher product that will store longer.

Option 5: Oxygen Absorbers

Oxygen absorbers are little packets of iron. The iron grabs oxygen molecules. If you put oxygen absorber packets in an air-tight container with coffee, the packets will remove virtually all oxygen and keep the coffee fresh.   Read more about oxygen absorbers for food storage here.

Option 6: Mylar Bags with Oxygen Absorbers

The best long-term storage method for coffee is sealed Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers. Mylar is a metallic-looking material that is impervious to gases. When you put an oxygen absorber into a bag and seal it, the coffee is protected from oxygen, humidity, and light. Instant coffee can last for 25+ years this way.

If you want to store coffee beans in Mylar, there’s an important caveat: they should be unroasted green coffee beans.

This is because the roasting process causes the natural oils in the coffee to start breaking down. The roasted beans will still last longer in Mylar + OAs than they would in other food containers, but don’t expect them to retain flavor for decades. By contrast, green coffee beans won’t deteriorate and can last 20+ years in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers.

Read more about storing food in Mylar bags here.

Also read how to make coffee without electricity.

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  1. You say; “If you want to store coffee beans in Mylar, there’s an important caveat: they must be unroasted green coffee beans. This is because the roasting process causes the natural oils in the coffee to start breaking down.” But you don’t explain what happens if I take roasted coffee beans and store them this way. Please explain more in depth and thank you

    • This is false information! I have about 15-20 pounds of roasted coffee beans in mylar with oxygen absorbers in my freezer (have been in there for almost two years). I pulled out a bag to try and they’re fine.

    • Nothing bad will happen if you store roasted beans in Mylar. But it’s probably not worth the effort since Mylar is really meant for long-term storage for emergency situations. The coffee will get funky, so better to keep it in your roasted beans in the freezer or constantly rotate through them.

  2. Am I correct in understanding that it would be better to store a nitrogen flushed coffee in its original packing than to repackage it in mylar with oxygen absorbers?

  3. I was wondering if I could re package and dry can (foodsaver type) ground coffee from the plastic containter it was purchased (Flogers, MaxWell House), into mason jars?

    • Yes, that would be better than leaving it in its original plastic packaging. But it will still get rancid eventually if kept at warm temps.

  4. What was not talked about is the use of large wide mouth canning jars. You can get a vacuum adapter for the jars and along with absorbers and once vacuum sealed, kept in a cool/dry place and it should last 10+ years. This is true with any dry foods you need to store long term. In the event of a complete breakdown of the infrastructure, nitrogen or freezers are simply not an option. And vacuum caning can be done without electricity by using a hand vaumm pump used for automotive brake bleeding. Even an old fridge compressor mounted and belt driven by a stationary bicycle can pump out air quite nicely.

    • I am glad I found your post. I have bought a lot of dark roasted whole coffee beans and taken them out of their original packages which were not airtight bags today begin with so I sealed them (without oxygen absorbers) into mason jars using the save and seal vacuum pack with the hose. I did NOT put oxygen absorbers in my jars and will seal in cool dark place, all air sucked out by the vacuum sealer. Is this still ok or should I unseal to put oxygen absorbers inside and re-seal the jars? I’ve read a warning online that “if you vacuum seal coffee and store it in your pantry, the coffee will release Carbon Dioxide Gas.” Any concerns of this gas?

      • Oxygen absorbers are generally better than vacuum sealing. But, since you’ve already got the coffee stored in vacuum sealed jars, I’d leave it there.

        As for carbon dioxide gas, this “degassing” occurs in the first few days after coffee is roasted. Unless your coffee is really fresh, don’t worry about it. Degassing is only an issue because it can theoretically break the seal on vacuum sealed bags. I doubt it would be able to break the seal on a jar. Maybe it could, but it’s easy enough to check the seal or just vacuum seal the jar again.

  5. I found that freezing coffee seems to suck the life out of it. Using the mylar bags from the store, I purchased two, one pound bags of the same ground coffee (with the same made-by date), putting one in the pantry and one in the freezer. After a couple of weeks, I brewed each one, side by side. After a cool down period, I found a big difference in taste. The one from the freezer had a stale taste next to the one from the pantry, which tasted fresh. I know it sounds logical to freeze coffee to preserve it, but in this case it doesn’t seem to apply. I’ll never freeze my coffee again.

  6. Great info…thank you. I refuse to go into SHTF without Seet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce, Chocolate or Coffee….so I’ll be chucking my Folgers into mylar with O2’s and hoping the freezer stays running when I throw em in!!

    • Yes, it will last longer this way. But coffee will still go rancid (especially in high temperatures). Keep it cool and rotate through it so you don’t end up with disgusting coffee!

  7. I have used coffee in the vacuumed foil packs, that were around 15 years old, and was still very drinkable.
    I now buy coffee and vacuum in canning jars, tho I still have a sizeable stash of the foil packs.
    At one time, I had some going on 18-19 years old, and gave some to my boss who was an old sailor, and he said it tasted like coffee….
    Getting rid of air helps a lot.

  8. I’m new to stocking up. I bought several Nes Caffe instant coffees. I would like to keep for years.
    They’re packaged in 14oz plastic jars. I’ve read that plastic is dangerous after a while.
    Should I break the seal and repackage in Mylar with O2 absorbers? If so how many absorbers should I use? Please advise. Thank you all in advance!

  9. I have been purchasing maxwell house decaf – ground coffee. I was planning on putting into mylar bags with oxygen absorbers. I was undecided if I should then freeze after that. Looking for 10+yr long term storage. Will this be ok? Should I freeze or not?

    • If you want a 10+ year shelf life, you’ll definitely need to freeze it. Otherwise, try to rotate through your coffee storage frequently.

  10. I have had coffee in the vacuumed foil packs almost 20 years old, and still was usable. It tasted a bit strong, but it was a cheap store brand, so may have tasted that way from the start.
    I used a lot of coffee 14 years old, also in the foil packs, and still was very good.
    I have a lot of coffee in the premeasured packs for commercial use, that is probably around 4 years past best by date, and still good as well.
    Due to the big freeze in the coffee growing regions, there may be sticker shock in a few months at the stores, so I bought coffee in the large containers, and plan on vacuuming it in canning jars.
    Coffee will last a lot longer than most people give it credit for.

  11. I have a freeze dryer and would like more info on freeze drying coffee. Can I freeze dry roasted coffee beans?? If so, how do I use them after – grind them and use them in a coffee maker?? Thanks for any info you have!

    • I don’t have experience with that one but I doubt there would be any benefit to freeze-drying coffee beans (roasted or green). Freeze drying removes water and coffee beans have almost none in them. Freeze drying also won’t help keep the fats in coffee beans from going rancid.

      Also keep in mind that many brands of instant coffee are freeze-dried. It’s made by first making an extract of coffee and freeze drying that. You could experiment with making your own instant coffee in your freeze dryer. But, since instant coffee is so cheap (and some brands actually taste good), I’m not sure it’s worth the hassle.

      • I do a lot of freeze-drying and Diane is correct, you don’t want to try and freeze dry the beans as oils are not affected by the process and will go rancid. I thought about trying to freeze-dry coffee after making it, but speculated it would be messy and not with the effort as Diane said, freeze-dried coffee is cheap, so I will stick to freeze-drying things that are easy and worth the effort so as to not have to by freeze-dried stuff…which is $$

  12. Clearing out some tins and things from the garage I found a 500g vacuum packed bag of Caffe Nero Classico House Blend coffee. I was about to throw it out because the best before date is 03.10.2012. A friend has told me I can still use it as it is still sealed and in a vacuum, the only thing I will find is it will have lost a little of its taste. As I haven’t drunk coffee for a few years I thought I would give it a try as I wouldn’t know the difference! I thought it would be best to check before I undid the bag and made a brew.
    Should I throw it out, or try it? I have found my old coffee maker and it still works.

    • It won’t taste as good as fresh coffee but still should be safe to drink. You could always brew coffee with it and make something out of it, like a lot of coffee cake. Then any bad taste won’t be as noticeable.

      Disclaimer: eat expired foods at your own risk! (in other words, I don’t want to get sued)

  13. I am vacuum packing roasted whole bean coffee in glass jars. Any guess as to shelf life ? Using manual break line pump gauge to 20 # pressure. Works great. A non electric vacuum method.

    • I can’t speculate on shelf life. It mostly comes down to temperature. In hot temperatures, the oils in the coffee beans will go bad fairly quickly. It will still be safe to use but won’t taste good.

    • Instant is definitely the easiest option! I find dry canning a waste of time and space, so Mylar + oxygen absorbers is my go-to storage method for most things.

  14. Thanks good info. I am going to be stocking up on some things and am planning to freeze decaf that comes in those metal type not vacuum sealed bags. I am seeing that some of you are just storing in a constant temp rather than freezing. I am wondering about the benefits.. I want to stock up maybe 2-5 years worth.

    • I personally don’t like freezing as a method of storing food long-term for emergencies. If the power goes out, so does the freezer – kind of defeats the point. For 2-5 years’ worth of coffee, unroasted beans in Mylar bags with O2 absorbers is the way to go. Or just get instant coffee. Many are made with freeze drying and some brands actually don’t taste that bad.

  15. Just found 2 plastic containers unopen Maxwell House ground coffee in our garage where we store extra food. Garage is unheated or AC but does stay cooler than outside air. Can says Exp.11/19 It is now 4-21. Can I still use it?

    • “Factory-ground” coffee in those blue polymer jugs? Mine were stored in cool, dark place in heir original jugs (with the flimsy foil seal.)

      After a few (2-3 years) I opened a few–they smelled AWFUL. Did not even attempt to brew any up.

      Out is all went onto the garden tomato-patch soil for “friability” and to keep the pesky deer away! My ‘mater plants did not seem to be offended!

  16. I purchase fresh roasted coffee from a local business. My plan was to purchase a year’s supply and repackage in Mylar bags with O2. However, after reading this article, I am not sure if that is wise as it states to only store unroasted green coffee beans in this manner. Please advise. Thank you!

    • Yes, it would be better to buy unroasted green coffee beans. However, fresh roasted coffee beans *should* be okay for a year in Mylar with O2 absorbers – so long as you keep the bags somewhere cool. Heat really accelerates the rancidification process. If you can’t keep them cool, then go for the unroasted green coffee beans instead.

    • Hi, say I have been into the survival mind set for 40 years ! Having been a mountain climber, backpacker, and adventurer. I have been storing food for 40 + years. Coffee that is roasted will store in a cool dark place sealed up correctly for around 4 to 5 years. I know because I have done this. So I forgot about some Folgers coffee that I had bought 15 years ago? WTF ! I decided to try it. I was amazed to say the least ! Metal can in perfect condition so I did not worry about any infestation by bug or germ. I opened it smelled it ( you will know if something is rancid !) it smelled like coffee !?!
      So …. I made a pot, drank it and I noticed nothing wrong !!! I was amazed by this. I do follow the best ways to preserve food. This was done correctly and I have high standards. I eventually rotated all of the cans and NO PROBLEMS ! These were factory sealed and in perfect condition . So I hope this helps you. Also if you do some research you will find that some canned food has lasted over 150 years !!! Yes it is true, it was found on a sank ship during the Civil War. Do the research and look it up. This was conducted by a university food lab. They had a diner with the found contents and everyone was amazed !!

      • Hi Red, it sounds like you have certainly lived an exciting life, & I wish you many more!
        Thank you for the info on the Civil war sunken ship with 150 yr old anned food, & I will research it! And Thank you for sharing your coffee storing too, but I have a question. I’m usually a very good cook but no matter what, make the worst coffee, even if instant! My Grandmother made the best coffee on a stove top percolater but i don’t remember the coffee she used & I can’t ask because she passed in 1982.
        I am just now starting to stock pile & trying to prepare for the worst, an EMP or God forbid a Nuclear attack or zombie virus! My question is, (don’t laugh) I do love Starbucks ground Vanilla coffee & if I keep it sealed in its sealed bag & put in 5 gal food grade bucket do you think it will stay ok for 5, 10+ years? Or should I transfer to mylar bag with an .02 oxygen packet then store in food grade bucket? Now if I can get figure out how to make Starbucks White Chocolate creamer in powder form!
        Can you also tell me what guidelines you use, follow to preserve, store your foods? Do you have an underground bunker?Or a hidden cabin in the woods/mountains?
        Thank You so much for your time & God Bless you.

        • Hi Vickie, I’m obviously not Red, but I’ve been making coffee for many years – even once grew and roasted my own. Yes it sounds conceited, but I reckon I can make coffee better than most coffee places where I live and there are dozens of them.
          Personally I would never use a percolator, in my view it spoils the flavour. Without fancy equipment excellent coffee can be made with a coffee filter. Filter papers are inexpensive as is a plastic gadget that simply sits atop the cup. Put the desired amount of ground coffee in the filter paper “cup or cone” and pour a few drips of very hot – not boiling – water over the coffee just enough to moisten it. Leave it to sit for about 15 – 20 seconds then slowly pour over the desired amount of very hot (not boiling water) and allow the water to drip through into your cup. That’s all there is to it.
          If you have no equipment whatever, except a small stainless steel saucepan good coffee can be made with the following method – the quantities you’ll need to experiment with to your own taste.
          Place the required amount of cold water in a clean saucepan and stir in the required amount of coffee
          (maybe about 2 heaped teaspoons for each cup).
          Now heat the water until it reaches a good simmer (not boiling) and remove from the heat. Let stand for around 1 minute or so, then gently pour into cups leaving as much of the grounds as you can in the saucepan.
          And if you want vanilla flavour, fair enough – just add a few drops of vanilla essence.
          By the way, the various brands of ground roast coffee vary tremendously in quality and taste. You’ll need to ask around for what’s best in your locality.
          I use an Australian coffee – it is called ‘Caffe Aurora’ Italian Blend and comes in a red, white and green pack. I buy it in the local supermarket and it way better than some of the more expensive brands that I’ve tried and don’t like.
          Hope that helps. If you lived close by I’d invite you in for a cup. Best wishes – Steve

  17. 1st time at your site. Very impressed with your list of articles. Looks like I will be a regular.
    The coffee I buy is in Mylar bags, but not vented. They normally have air in the bags, not sealed tight. I’ve been gradually increasing my supply and at about 40-50 pounds now and haven’t had an issue with it going bad. I had been thinking of a adding an O2 absorber to them, but it appears that you are saying no to this for roasted coffee. Am I correct? My coffee stays at a pretty constant 55 degrees until summer and gets a little warmer. If I store in the freezer, would it be best to use an 02 absorber to store in freezer? Your thought would be appreciated. I have been wanting to increase my coffee supply.
    I possibly

    • Coffee in good packaging (even if it isn’t nitrogen-flushed) will last at least a couple years. I’d say to stockpile a maximum of how much you can rotate through in 2 years time. If you want to stockpile more than 2-years’ worth of coffee, then it should be green coffee beans. These you store with O2 absorbers in Mylar. Be warned that the roasting process has a STRONG smell.

        • I don’t think vacuum sealing the can will offer much, or any, benefit. It’s still only going to last approximately 5 months past it’s best-by date. If you can keep it cool though, the coffee may retain its flavor and aroma for a couple years after the best by date.


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