So you have a Keurig coffee maker and all those wonderful little K-Cups. Seemingly hundreds of those little K-Cups. It’s great, all those different flavors to enjoy – but how do you store the things? And how long will they keep?

There are “best by” dates on the sides of K-Cups, though they can be hard to read because they are usually either impressed into the plastic or printed in a color that closely matches the cup.

But that date is merely the last day the manufacturer will vouch for the coffee’s flavor. As long as the coffee pod is still intact, the coffee inside is probably fine for at least six months after the “best by” date, and probably more. As long as the seal hasn’t broken, it’s safe to use. The only worry is that after awhile it may have lost some flavor.

Tara Williams, editor of KitchenSanity, says ­you do not have to freeze K-Cups to keep them fresh, like you might do with whole beans or ground coffee.

“The air inside your K-Cups is nitrogen,” she says, “not regular air, which is loaded with oxygen. Oxygen is what degrades coffee over time. But since K-Cups are filled with nitrogen, the coffee inside will last much longer without having to be frozen.”

So we know not to store all those coffee pods in the freezer, but what about reclaiming your kitchen counter?

10 ways to store and organize k-cups (1)

Here are 10 ways to round ‘em up and keep your K-Cups in line:

kcupdrawer

1. Custom Carpentry

If you’re redoing your kitchen, keep in mind that there are drawers and cabinets designed especially for K-Cups. The cabinet company Decora Cabinetry has a K-Cup Storage Drawer, for instance, which holds 40 pods, as well as a K-Cup Pullout Storage Cupboard that holds 44.

2. DIY Dividers

If you’re not remodeling your kitchen, you can make your own K-Cup drawer by supergluing carefully placed dowels within a drawer, creating rows that fit K-Cups perfectly.

3. Silverware Trays

You can also use an empty drawer for your K-Cups by lining them up in wooden, plastic or wire silverware trays.

4. Hanging Divider

Consider hanging a clear plastic shoe bag, with multiple pockets, on the back of your pantry door for a way to organize and store a vast K-Cup collection.

5. In a Pretty Basket

Some people display their K-Cups in a pretty basket kept on the kitchen counter.

6. Spice Rack

Others use free-standing spice jar racks, the type where you slip a spice jar into a hole; many of those fit K-Cups perfectly.

butfirstcoffee

7. Handmade Decor

Johanna Moore sells handmade home décor items on Etsy including rustic wood holders, each of which hold 20 K-Cups (pictured above).

“It lets you see each one so you aren’t left digging around for the one you want,” says Moore. “And it stands vertically, so it takes up less counter space and looks like a cute art piece on your counter.”

On each she prints in neat letters, “but first….COFFEE.” She says, “You can customize the colors and wording, too, so you get a unique piece that expresses your personality and adds some fun to your kitchen.”

8. Hanging Baskets

If you have shelves above or near your coffee area, consider picking up an inexpensive, plastic-coated wire basket that attaches to the bottom. Not only does it make good use of what’s often wasted space, but the heavy-duty wire construction is perfect for holding K-Cups.

9. Cookie Jar

Disguise them by storing them in a cookie jar on the counter next to your coffee maker.

10. In the Garden

And here’s an idea for after you’ve used a K-Cup: Add a little soil to it (leave the coffee grounds inside) and start seedlings in it. The coffee grounds are good for the seeds; as the grounds decompose, they release minerals that help the plant grow. Water lightly; the hole in the bottom will allow the cup to drain. Replant your “K-Cup starts” when they get big enough.

Leslie Lang