I love to buy new bags of coffee, but I don't always drink them before they go stale. In an effort to stop spending so much, I decided to see how long a bag of coffee would actually last me.
How many cups of coffee are in a pound of beans? You can get between 40-80 cups of coffee from a single pound of beans. This amount varies based on the strength of your brew and the size of your favorite mug.
Every type of coffee is different, so some bags might contain more than others. How long your coffee actually lasts depends on the coffee you buy, the amount you use, and how well you store it.
How Long Will Your Coffee Beans Last?
A one-pound bag of coffee beans can be surprisingly expensive. Whether you're trying to get the most out of an expensive bag of beans or stretching your supplies until the next trip to the store, it's good to know how long a bag of coffee beans will last you.
What Kind of Coffee Do You Buy?
No two bags of coffee are exactly the same. Dark-roasted beans weigh less than lighter roasts, which means you might actually get more coffee in a one-pound bag. Some beans are heavier because they contain more coffee oil, and other bags aren't even weighed to exact amounts.
So if you've noticed that one brand of coffee tends to go faster than another, you're probably right. I also tend to change the amount of coffee I use based on the strength of a roast, which can drastically change how quickly I go through a single bag.
How Much Coffee Do You Use?
Drip coffee machines typically need about 4-10 tablespoons of coffee grounds. You want to cover the filter in a nice, even layer. Other brewing methods may require different amounts of coffee; cold brew requires more, but french presses often need less.
No matter what brewing method you use, adding more grounds will make the coffee taste stronger. Some people like to load up on grounds, while others use it as little as possible to get a lower dose of caffeine.
How Often Do You Brew a Fresh Pot?
Some people only drink coffee in the morning; others go through several pots in a single day. Fresh coffee is my favorite thing, so I tend to brew a new pot even if I didn't finish the last batch. The more often you brew coffee, the more quickly you'll go through a single purchase.
Try writing down how many pots of coffee you make a day or throughout the week. This will help you determine how often you need to buy a fresh bag.
Estimating the Life of a Bag of Coffee
When I want to figure out how long a bag of coffee will last me, I don't measure by cups. I make my coffee by the pot; sometimes I finish it, and sometimes I pour the leftovers down the drain. Either way, it makes more sense to measure by how much coffee I use in a single batch.
First, measure the amount of coffee you normally pour into your grinder. Round to the nearest tablespoon. Don't worry about getting an exact amount; this formula is just an estimate.
The typical one-pound bag of coffee has about 100 tablespoons of coffee beans. Just divide this by the amount of coffee you use, and you'll get the number of pots in a one-pound bag of coffee.
100 / (tablespoons of coffee used for one batch) = pots of brewed coffee in a one-pound bag
This formula isn't exact. Some types of coffee are denser than others, so there aren't always 100 tablespoons in every bag. If you're like me, you also might not measure your coffee perfectly every morning, which means you'll go through some bags more quickly than others. Either way, this is is a good quick estimate, and you can use it to guess how quickly you'll go through a one-pound bag.
Bean Ratios for the Perfect Cup of Coffee
The amount of coffee you use will determine how long a one-pound bag lasts. But how do you decide how much coffee to grind for every batch?
I tend to change the amount of coffee I use based on the brewing method and the intensity of the roast. Some roasts taste amazing if you use more beans, and you'll never know until you try.
Specialtiy Coffee Association Brewing Standards
The Speciality Coffee Association is a non-profit organization that represents and conducts research for the specialty coffee industry. Their Standards Committee has recommended an ideal ratio of coffee to water to produce the perfect cup.
According to the SCA, a standard cup of coffee is made with 8.25 grams of coffee for every 150 milliliters of water. If you're making an 8-cup pot, that's about 4 and a half tablespoons.
The SCA has actually created an entire set of cupping standards that can be used to judge individual roasts against each other. From the quality of the water to the brewing method to the vessels used, anyone can make a regulation cup of coffee so the flavor notes of the beans can really shine.
Your Perfect Brewing Ratio
Here's the thing about the SCA's regulations: I'm not a professional coffee taster. Also, a drip coffee maker doesn't brew anything like the pour-over method used for cupping, so brewing with SCA measurements won't actually guarantee the best taste.
Instead, you'll probably want to figure out your own coffee bean ratio that matches your preferred brewing method. I like to start with about 1 tablespoon of grounds for every 2 cups of coffee I'll be making. After tasting a cup, I can decide if I want more or less coffee in the next batch.
Fun fact: Coffee maker “cups” are only 5 ounces. This lines up with SCA cupping standards, but it can be confusing when you're trying to measure things out. That 5-cup coffee maker only makes 25 ounces of coffee, or 3 individual 8-ounce mugs.
Getting More Out of Your Coffee
Sometimes, you really want a single bag of coffee to last as long as possible. Try these tips to stretch your coffee further while still enjoying that delicious java taste.
- Keep your coffee machine clean. If your coffee doesn't taste right, don't start adding more beans. Instead, just run a cycle of vinegar and water to remove build-up, and then another cycle of pure water to rinse.
- Store your beans properly. Coffee beans lose flavor when they start to go stale, and you'll need to use more to get a strong taste. Keep your beans sealed in an airtight container and stored in a cool, dry place.
- Check the size of your grind. Finer grinds tend to produce stronger coffee; grind for a few extra seconds to get a flavor boost. Just make sure not to grind so fine that the beans run through your filter; coarse grinds work better for metal filters and French presses.
- Try different strengths. How dark do you actually like your coffee? Unless you've tried both mild and medium brews, you'll never know what your perfect brewing ratio is.
How to Store Coffee Beans
Sometimes, I drink a lot of coffee, and I can easily go through a pound of beans in two weeks. But at other times, it can take me a month or two to finish a single bag of coffee.
Coffee beans don't go bad, but they can go stale and lose most of their flavor. Whether you go through a pound of beans in a month or a week, you should know how to keep your coffee as fresh as possible.
There are four things that can make your coffee beans go stale: air, light, moisture, and heat. This means that if you place your coffee in an opaque, airtight container and store it in a cool, dry, and dark place, it should stay fresh for a good amount of time.
Coffee beans are usually sold in a paper or foil bag with a fold-over seal. These bags are opaque and water-resistant, which makes them a great choice for storing beans. However, once it's opened, the bag is no longer airtight, and your beans might go stale.
An easy solution is to put your bag of beans inside of a larger zip-lock bag or a plastic container. The plastic seal will keep out air and moisture, and the original coffee bag will keep out light. This should keep your beans fresh for up to 3 months (best flavor if you brew them within 1 month after roasting.).
If you plan to store your coffee beans for more than a month, put them in the freezer. They'll stay fresh for about 6 months to a year, although they do stand the risk of getting freezer burnt.
When you're ready to use them, take the beans out of the freezer, and let them thaw completely before opening the bag. Don't put the beans back in the freezer – you don't want moisture to ruin the flavor.
How much coffee do you put in a coffee pot?
Try using 1-2 tablespoons of coffee for every 2 full mugs you intend to make. This amount varies based on the beans you use and the strength of your brew.
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