How to Store Coffee Long Term for Maximum Shelf Life

While most survivalists don’t consider coffee as an essential food item, the benefits of these caffeine-rich grounds have some preppers looking for ways to store coffee long term.

And when you consider the fact that 64% of Americans consume at least one cup of coffee per day, it’s fair to say that survivalists are among them. 

Luckily, with the right tools and preparation, it’s possible to store coffee for over 25 years. Just follow these 6-easy steps below and you’ll be certain that your coffee will be stored properly for the long term.

So without further ado, let’s get to it!

1. Store In Mylar Bags

Mylar bags are airtight and prevent air, moisture, and light from entering. This makes them perfect for storing coffee long-term. The benefit of using Mylar bags, as opposed to containers, is that you can squeeze out the excess air and further preserve the coffee’s aroma and taste. To do so, simply add the coffee then roll the bag from the bottom until all of the air is pushed out.

You can seal your Mylar bags using the closure that comes with them. If you do not have the closure, you can easily seal them with a rubber band wrapped tightly around the opening. Some Mylar bags can be sealed using a vacuum.

2. Add Oxygen Absorber to Mylar Bags

Oxygen is the enemy of freshness, so adding an oxygen absorber to a Mylar bag, or even a standard airtight container, can further increase the shelf life of your coffee. This step is certainly helpful but not necessarily required. 

Coffee loses its flavor and aroma as it oxidizes, or is exposed to oxygen. That is why adding oxygen absorbers to your Mylar bags is helpful for preservation.

3. Store In 5-gallon bucket With Lid

Once your beans are tightly packed into airtight Mylar bags, you’ll then want to pack those bags into a 5-gallon bucket and seal it with a lid. This will further prevent light, oxygen, and moisture (the three main downfalls of freshness) from being able to contaminate your coffee beans 

This is an ideal method for those who plan to consume a large amount of coffee. Since 5-gallon buckets are easily stackable, you can easily store up to 15-20+ gallons of coffee in a relatively small amount of space

4. Store In Cool Location

Heat can quickly reduce the shelf life of coffee, so make sure to store your beans in a cool location (the cooler the better). Of course, you could always place your coffee beans in the freezer to extend the shelf life of your coffee as much as possible. 

However, this will negatively affect the taste of your beans. Freeze at your own risk.

5. Store In Dark Location

Even if your coffee beans are sealed in a Mylar bag and packed into a 5-gallon bucket, you should still store that bucket in a dark location. If your coffee beans are exposed to light for an extended amount of time, this will eventually alter the aroma and taste of your coffee. 

And let’s face it, nobody wants to drink poor-tasting coffee.

Having exposure to light could also cause the coffee to heat up over time as well, which is another reason why keeping the coffee in a dark location is essential.

6. Never Store Bucket On the Ground

You should never store your 5-gallon bucket(s) full of coffee directly on the ground. If you do so the bucket will effectively “soak up” the heat from the ground and this can negatively affect the shelf life of your coffee.

Plus, if your bucket is stored directly on the ground it will be easy for animals to locate your bucket and attempt to find out what’s inside. I recommend you at least place the bucket on a shelf or in a cupboard where it will be away from the ground.

Does Coffee Expire?

While coffee can go bad, it’s quite simple to prevent it from happening so quickly. Since coffee grounds generally go rancid due to the oxidization of the natural oils from the beans, it’s essential to make sure the coffee beans are not exposed to air. 

One way to cut down the surface area of the coffee beans is to store them whole and only grind them as you use them. In all honesty though, coffee takes quite a long time to go rancid, which is why it’s typically safe to drink expired coffee. 

However, the flavor of the coffee is greatly impacted by how it is stored. Although coffee may be safe to drink, it may not be pleasant if it has not been preserved properly.

If you notice any mold on your coffee beans then throw them away. They’re no longer good. 

How Long Does Coffee Last?

Coffee grounds that are properly stored in an airtight container and placed somewhere dark, cool, and with low humidity can last 3-5 months past the expiration date before it starts to go bad. Whereas whole coffee beans can last 6-9 months past the expiration date before it starts to go bad. Instant coffee has a shelf-life of 2-20+ years. All forms of coffee remain safe to consume until mold begins to grow.

If you store your coffee grounds or beans in the freezer you can increase its shelf-life from 3-5 months past expiration date to 1-2 years (grounds) and from 6-9 months past expiration date to 2-3 years (beans). Instant coffee placed in the freezer can last indefinitely. The taste, however, will diminish over time.

You can also invest in green coffee beans if you don’t mind roasting the beans yourself. Because green coffee beans haven’t been roasted yet they can stay fresh for several years.

Preventing Oxidation

mylar bags for coffee beans

In order to prevent coffee from going bad, the key is to prevent oxidation. To prevent oxidation, make sure to store your grounds in opaque, airtight containers. 

The containers should be opaque to avoid light spoiling the taste of the coffee, which can happen over time. The containers must be airtight to avoid any air or humidity from entering. Air will cause oxidation and humidity will cause spoilage to happen faster.

Most bags and containers that customers store coffee in are not equipped for long-term storage. For that reason, it’s necessary to find a new container for your beans if you want them to last as long as possible.

Helpful tip: If your container isn’t watertight, it certainly isn’t airtight. To test if the container is watertight, fill it halfway with water, put the lid on, and flip it upside down. Use a marker to mark the water level. Leave the container upside down overnight. If the water level has decreased, the container is not watertight. Although this does not guarantee that your container is airtight, it does prove some level of protection against too much air entering or escaping.

Where to Store Coffee Long-term

5 Gallon Buckets With Mylar Bags

Coffee must be stored in a dark, cool location, away from the floor. The best place to store your buckets or containers (filled with coffee) is on a shelf in a dark room. This room should also be climate-controlled. 

If your coffee is stored in a location where the temperature or humidity fluctuates greatly then you can expect the coffee to expire more quickly.

Storing coffee in the freezer is another way to extend its shelf life. However, some experts advise against storing coffee this way. Not only is coffee susceptible to taking on the odors and flavors of other food stored in the freezer, but freezing coffee also greatly dulls its flavor over time. 

Do Whole Beans Last Longer Than Grounded Coffee?

Yes, whole coffee beans have a longer shelf life than grounded coffee. This is because whole beans have less surface area than coffee grounds do, allowing them to oxidize slower and last longer. 

This is why whole beans are ideal for long-term storage.

Green vs Roasted Beans

green coffee beans on plant 1

Now comes the next important thing to consider when storing your coffee. Should you buy green (unroasted) beans or the more common roasted beans? 

Here are a few factors to consider.

Green coffee beans last longer than roasted beans. This is because (just like cooked food) the roasting process matures the beans and breaks down the compounds which allow them to resist going bad.

However, if you do decide to purchase green coffee beans to store long-term, remember to store them properly, as these beans are very sensitive to humidity.

Another important factor you have to consider if you choose green coffee beans is the at-home roasting process you’ll have to do. So if you don’t want to purchase the necessary equipment to roast your beans, having green coffee beans is not going to be a viable option. But

However, if you do decide to invest in coffee roasting equipment, at least the quality of your coffee will be greatly improved as you’ll always have freshly roasted coffee ready to go. This is because the roasting process gives coffee most of its flavor.

On the other hand, storing whole roasted beans is much more convenient as you won’t have to roast your own beans at home. Unfortunately, roasted beans do lose their flavor over time, so if you plan on buying your beans already roasted then it’s even more important to follow the steps above if you want to preserve the flavor of your coffee over time.