For an average bag of ground coffee on the shelf at a major grocery store (let's say Peet's or Starbucks, not Folgers), how many days would you guess have elapsed since:

  1. The roasted beans were ground
  2. The green beans were roasted

I know there's no single answer, but maybe a median?

2 Answers 2


I just had the same question. I picked a different brand (Eight O'Clock), looked up the company's web site, found the Contact Us link, and shot them a message asking for essentially the same information. That's an easy way to find out for any brand you're interested in.

I got two useful bits of information.

  1. My question was about roasted whole beans, not ground. That company believes those are "fresh" for a year.

  2. That doesn't mean the coffee on the shelf is a year old. They stamp a date on the package that is one year from the roasting date. So knowing their labeling policy tells you exactly when the beans were roasted.

    The large grocery chains are very cognizant of product turnover, and that is typically computerized, both for inventory and sales planning/analysis. They try to purchase in appropriate quantities so stuff doesn't linger long on their shelves.

    So just go shopping and check the dates on the packages once you know how to interpret it for that brand. You may well find coffee packages that are still actually within a reasonable period of freshness.


I chased down Starbuck’s policy on shelf life, package design, freezing beans, etc. They are officially happy with a 34 week shelf life. Can you believe that? They consider 8 month old coffee “fresh”.


I suggest either roasting it yourself (green beans keep for years) or buying it from a roaster who can tell you what day it was roasted.

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