When it comes to grocery shopping, you always want the most bang for your buck. That’s why frozen foods, non-perishable items, and other goods with a long shelf life are so popular. Even if you’re a caffeine addict, it’s often difficult to commit to buying packaged coffee when even the store brands tend to be pricey. It’s even more difficult when you factor in concerns about unused coffee going by the wayside if you don’t drink it fast enough.

Here’s what you need to know about coffee expiration, so you’re not wasting your hard-earned money on something that’ll end up in the trash in a few months.

Freshness matters

If you’ve ever stopped and asked yourself, “does coffee expire?” the easy answer is “yes”. Coffee, like most any other product, can go bad after a certain amount of time. That’s why so many coffee chains advertise their products with bright, bold messages touting just how fresh their java is. It’s a big draw for coffee aficionados and it speaks to the quality of the brew. If you’re looking for the freshest cup of joe, your best bet is to make use of your beans shortly after purchasing them.

If you’re concerned about the freshness of your coffee, rely on your senses. Your sense of smell, in particular, is your best indication that your grounds or beans aren’t all that fresh. So smell your coffee. Typically, you’ll be alerted by a stale smell, not unlike a bag of chips that’s been left in the cupboard a little too long. When you get down to it, if your coffee smells stale and flat, it’s going to taste stale and flat. After all, the aroma is one of the biggest components of the coffee tasting process. While it’s not entirely common for coffee to reach this stale stage, it’s liable to happen if you don’t store it properly or leave it unused for too long.

The best way to store coffee

If your first instinct after picking up a new bag of grinds is to toss it into the freezer, step away from the coffee and slowly put your hands up because you’re committing one of the biggest coffee crimes! While it’s common knowledge that freezing your grounds can greatly extend coffee’s shelf life (sometimes indefinitely), it all but destroys its flavor. Thawed coffee tastes incredibly dull and the freezing process saps your brew of its interesting flavor profiles.

Instead, your best option is to store coffee in an airtight container and keep it somewhere that is cool, dry, and dark (because coffee left in direct sunlight also experiences flavor loss). If you store coffee this way, it can even outlast the expiration date printed on the bag. Coffee grounds typically last for a few months after you store them this way, and whole bean coffee can last up to nine months. As for instant coffee, you’re in luck, because proper storage keeps its quality up for up to 20 years.

Another way to get your fix

While picking up some grounds at the grocery store is a great way to keep yourself caffeinated for a few weeks, there are other ways to get your fix. Coffee subscriptions like Moustache Coffee Club are becoming increasingly popular. They’re monthly subscriptions that deliver your joe right to your front door or office. Most of them allow you to create a profile, select how much you’d like to receive in a given month — a key to eliminating both waste and worries about expiration dates — and choose what flavors you want delivered.

Whether you’re adopting better coffee storage practices or switching to a new subscription method, always make sure that your coffee is fresh and flavorful. Nobody wants to wake up to flat, stale coffee. After all, if coffee is the best part of waking up, then make sure you’re drinking the best cup you can.