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How Long Can Coffee Sit Out & Not Go Bad?

person holding ceramic mug

First, does coffee go bad? Does it expire like some items in our kitchen? As a matter of fact, coffee doesn’t go bad, and a “bad” cup of java won’t ruin your day. However, if the beans or ground get wet, they can’t be used or reused and must be trashed.  

How Long Does Coffee Last?

Coffee is dry, packed food, and like most dry goods, there is no fixed expiration date to keep in mind. However, it good to note coffee that is poorly stored losses its flavor and freshness and coffee past the expiration date deteriorates.  

Bonus! Coffee’s best friends are cool temperatures and darkness. 

To better help you understand how long coffee lasts, let’s have a look at how long to keep it in different forms.

Whole beans 

Whole bean coffee lasts the longest of all. They don’t go bad fast, and it is advisable to keep them that way until brewing for ultimate freshness and grinding only what you will use. Always use whole beans within three to four weeks for ultimate freshness and overall flavor.

Ground coffee

As mentioned above, only grind the amount of coffee you need. If you opt to buy ground beans, make sure to use them within two weeks of opening.

Brewed coffee

Once brewed, how long does it last? If kept at room temperature, coffee once brewed should be consumed the same day, if possible, within 12 hours. You can also store brewed coffee in the refrigerator for 3- 4 days.

However, straight black coffee can be stored at room temperature for up to 24 hours after brewing. It will always be healthy to eat, but its initial taste will be missing.

Hot coffee with added milk or creamer, on the other hand, should not be left out for longer than 1 to 2 hours.

According to scientific facts, highly dangerous foods (such as milk) can be stored at temperatures between 40 °F and 140 °F (4.4 °C and 60 °C). This temperature level is referred to as the “danger zone.”

Coffee with milk that has been left out at temperatures ranging from 40 °F to 80 °F (4.4 °C to 26.6 °C) for more than 2 hours should be discarded. If the temperature was higher – between 90 °F (32.2 °C) and 140 °F (60 °C), the milky beverage could be discarded after 1 hour.

This also refers to almond milk coffee.

Instant coffee

When it comes to instant coffee, use it within two weeks of opening.

What happens to brewed coffee if it’s left to sit out?

Coffee is only really consumable for 30 minutes after brewing, according to some who are particular regarding the taste profile of their caffeinated beverage. Others, on the other hand, will make a full pot of drip coffee on Sunday and drink it every day for the next week without even putting it in the fridge. But what happens to your coffee if you want to leave it out for too long? Let’s see how it goes.

What factors degrade coffee beans?

There are things to avoid when storing coffee if you want it to retain its freshness and high-quality taste. Here are four coffee’s worst enemies to avoid:


Coffee beans and oxygen don’t go well together – when they mix, the beans degrade in a matter of days, and you will end up with stale coffee.


Coffee doesn’t like heat unless when it is being brewed. When exposed to heat, the beans lose their flavor.


Coffee also goes stale when stored in direct light. So, if considering storing them in a glass jar, think twice!


Humid conditions are not ideal for coffee beans. They go bad fast once they get wet.

How can I tell if coffee has gone bad?

You can tell if your coffee has gone bad depending on how it smells and looks. If you see or smell any sign of mold, whether before or after the expiration date, don’t use any of it. Toss it!

Coffee losing its full, rich aroma is another sign it is starting to degrade. When oils start to break down, that exquisite aroma will weaken. That could indicate the oils have started to go bad.

Also curious about your coffee creamer going bad?

How to properly store coffee beans 

  • Properly seal your coffee: This prevents your coffee beans from mixing with oxygen and if possible, store them in an opaque container to keep light away.
  • Keep heat and humidity low: In other words, store your coffee in a cooler temperature.
  • Buy the right amount: The freshness of coffee doesn’t lass more than 3- 4 weeks. For that reason, consider buying coffee that you can use before freshness start diminishes. 

Check out the best coffee storage container you can buy.


Best canisters you can buy

Why does coffee turn bitter?

Oxidation continues even after brewing. Now, when you let your coffee sit for too long, the reaction between oxygen and hydrogen raises the Ph level of the coffee, making it stale or bitter. That is why you should not let your coffee sit in a brewing pot for too long after brewing. This is very crucial when using a French press as your java will continue to brew for as long as it remains in the press. For the best experience, pour it into a mug, a thermos, or a serving jug as soon as it is done.

Over-extraction is also a cause of bitterness. To avoid it, make sure your grind size is not too small and that you are brewing for the required period. 

Is freezing coffee beans a good idea?

Freezing coffee beans seems a decent idea, right? But wait, before you freeze them, hear this. Coffee is soft and porous. That means it absorbs other aromas easily and quickly. This further means that any smells lingering in your freezer can be absorbed by the coffee. Eventually, once it has been frozen and thawed, it will still be safe to drink, but its freshness and quality will not be the same.

What about the refrigerator, is it a better option? The refrigerator is equally not ideal for storing coffee beans and grounds. Refrigerated coffee beans and grounds age faster. That means the freshness and taste also decreases fast. This happens because in the fridge, coffee beans, and grounds condensate, pushing the flavorful oils of the coffee to the surface. 

Here’s my full article if you should freeze your coffee or not.

In conclusion

No need to worry about stale coffee anymore if you buy just enough and store them well. Hope this piece was helpful. Have a question? Let us know in the comments!