Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
Coffee is a creature comfort that many of us crave every day. Coffee might be hard to come by in a crisis, making it a valuable commodity for comfort, barter, and trade. But coffee doesn’t have a very long shelf life, so what is the best way to store coffee long-term?
Coffee can last for years if it is stored properly. Purchasing prepackaged freeze-dried coffee is the easiest solution to long-term coffee storage. However, you can store whole green coffee beans in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers for a very long time if you know the proper procedure and have ideal storage conditions.
In this article, we’ll talk about the best ways to store coffee for the long term. We’ll look at how to make coffee when the power is out, as well. But first, we’ll look at how long coffee really lasts.
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How Long Does Coffee Last?
|Type||Opened in the Pantry||Opened in the Freezer||Unopened in the Pantry||Unopened in the Freezer|
|Ground Coffee||3 to 5 months||3 to 5 months||3 to 5 months||1 – 2 years|
|Whole Bean||Six months||2 years||6 to 9 months||2 -3 years|
|Instant Coffee||2 to 20 years||Indefinite||2 – 20 years||Indefinite|
|Prepper Coffee||N/A||N/A||25 years||N/A|
How to Store Coffee, So It Lasts for Years
Coffee is not, by nature, a long-term storage food such as rice or beans. Coffee expires relatively quickly, and an opened container of ground coffee is best when used within two weeks of opening. That being said, ‘old’ coffee isn’t necessarily harmful if it has been stored properly.
If it smells rancid or has visible mold, your coffee isn’t safe to use. Regardless, old coffee breaks down over time, losing both flavor and potency. You can see in the chart above about how long coffee should last under ideal conditions.
However, there are several ways to store coffee for the long term to give you optimum results.
Purchase Freeze-Dried (Prepper) Coffee
If you want to store coffee long term for emergencies, the easiest way to do this is to purchase prepackaged survival coffee. For example, Franklin’s Finest Coffee, available on Amazon.com, comes in a large sealed tub. It has 720 servings divided up into 12 resealable Mylar bags.
Unopened, this container will last for 25 years. Unfortunately, it does not say how long this coffee will last after it’s been opened, but it probably has the same shelf life as any other instant coffee once it has been opened.
Store Instant Coffee in the Freezer
Tightly sealed instant coffee can last indefinitely in the freezer. Therefore, storing instant coffee in the freezer works well if you enjoy instant coffee. However, in an SHTF emergency, you may not have electricity to keep the freezer running, so your instant coffee won’t last as long.
Store Unopened Coffee (Lasts 450 Days)
Another option for storing coffee is to simply keep a heavy supply of coffee in your pantry and rotate it frequently. This should keep you with plenty of coffee for a short-term emergency, but it won’t give you enough coffee to last for a long-term crisis.
Store Fresh Coffee Beans in Mylar Bags With 02 Absorbers
The best method for long term coffee storage is to store fresh beans in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers. Here’s how.
1. Choose Your Beans. You’ll need to store whole coffee beans, but many preppers recommend keeping green, unroasted coffee beans. You can purchase whole green coffee beans online at places such as Olam Specialty Coffee or on Amazon.com.
2. Assemble Your Tools.
You’ll need to assemble a few items to create your long-term coffee storage. You’ll need green coffee beans, oxygen absorbers, Mylar bags, a vacuum, an iron or hair straightener, and a 5-gallon bucket with a long-term storage lid, such as a gamma lid.
Ideally, you’ll put several smaller bags of coffee beans into your bucket rather than a single large bag. Packing your coffee in smaller bags will allow you to take out and use smaller batches of coffee so that the rest of the stored coffee will last longer.
3. Add an oxygen absorber to each bag. Make sure you use the correct size oxygen absorber for the size of the bag you will be using. For example, use 1 to 2 300cc oxygen absorbers per 1-gallon bag.
4. Add coffee beans. Leave just enough space at the top to seal the bag.
5. Add a second oxygen absorber to the bag on top of the coffee.
6. Seal the bag most of the way across, leaving a small space to remove the rest of the air.
7. Use a vacuum to suck the rest of the air out.
8. Seal the bag the rest of the way.
9. Add your bags to the bucket and close the lid tightly.
10. Keep your bucket in a cool, dry place.
Your coffee beans, if stored correctly, could last as many as 20 years unopened. However, keep in mind that you will need to roast and grind your beans before brewing them.
How to Roast Green Coffee Beans
- First, put about 2 cups of unroasted coffee into the popcorn popper.
- Next, put it on the camp stove and set it to about medium heat.
- Next, turn the crank of the popcorn popper until you hear the coffee ‘crack’ twice.
- Once the coffee has turned to the shade of brown you desire, you can pour it into a colander to cool.
If needed, you could even roast your coffee in a frying pan over a fire, but without consistent heating, you might get inconsistent results. Only roast a few days’ worth of coffee at a time because it will degrade in quality very quickly.
How to Grind Coffee Beans with No Power
After you’ve roasted your coffee beans, you’re going to need to grind them. The best way to grind coffee beans without power is to use a hand crank burr grinder. They are very easy to purchase and use. Just put the coffee beans into the top of the grinder and turn the crank. Ground coffee will be dispensed into the receptacle below.
If you don’t have access to a grinder, you can always use a mortar and pestle or even grind your beans between two clean rocks. Of course, your results won’t be as consistent, but it works in a pinch.
How to Brew Coffee without Power
None of this effort to store your coffee is worthwhile if you can’t actually brew your coffee.
To make French press coffee, you put the desired amount of ground coffee in the bottom of the coffee press. If you don’t have a way to measure or weigh your coffee, you might have to guess. You should have roughly one part coffee to 15 parts water.
Pour in water that is just short of boiling and put the lid on top. Allow it to steep for around 4 minutes. You can steep your coffee for a longer or shorter time, depending on your preference. When you are finished brewing, gently and slowly push the plunger down. Then carefully pour your coffee into a mug.
Pour-over is a simplified method of brewing coffee. You can purchase your pour-over brewer just about anywhere, and they are available in glass or plastic.
- First, put your pour-over brewer over a mug or jar if it doesn’t come with one.
- Then, put a paper filter into your brewer.
- Add the desired amount of ground coffee.
- Heat your water to just below boiling.
- Then, carefully pour water over all of the ground coffee to wet it.
- Then slowly keep pouring the rest of the water. The water will drip through the filter and into your mug or jar, similar to a typical coffeemaker.
Another easy way to brew coffee without electricity is to use an Aeropress, which uses pressure to force hot water through your ground coffee. You can find an easy video to follow here.
To brew your coffee, you’ll still need to use hot water. You might heat your hot water over a fire or camp stove. If you don’t have hot water, you can even use a cold brew method.
Cold-brew might be the easiest way to make coffee when the power is out. Pour some coarsely ground coffee into a mason jar and add water. Close the lid and let it sit out on your counter overnight. Strain out the coffee grounds in the morning and mix equal parts water and cold brew coffee solution.
Although coffee isn’t technically a long-term storage food, you can store it for many years when it is correctly stored under ideal conditions. Don’t forget to make a plan to roast and brew your coffee so you can enjoy a delicious, hot cup of coffee anytime.
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