Most of us have one or a few coffee bags in our pantry, whether it is ground coffee, instant coffee, or the premium coffee beans gifted from our dear friend. Not to mention the one is hidden in a forgotten shelf that you discovered recently. Naturally, it makes you wonder what is the shelf life of coffee? In this post, I will help you to find out the answer for this questions.
Does coffee expire?
Just like most food and drink items in this world, coffee does go bad. The bright side is that it has a long shelf life and even longer if you know how to store it properly.
Many manufacturers either use food-safe nitrogen gas or vacuum-sealed their coffee bags to remove air (oxygen). That way, the coffee inside can keep its aroma and flavor.
Unopened coffee bag lasts longer, once opened, we need to seal its tightly after each use. Light, heat, and humidity are another enemy of coffee. So make sure to store your coffee in a dry and dark place, avoid contact with direct sunlight.
How long does coffee last?
It differs based on types of coffees, its forms, its quality, and the way it is stored. In an ideal world, coffee is best used as close to its roasting date as possible. The best before date on coffee bags often signifies how long coffee can keep its peak quality.
The shelf life of coffee beans
If you are serious about the taste of your coffee, then you should buy coffee beans and grind it enough for a cup of coffee. It is because coffee in the form of whole beans will help you to retain the freshness and flavor the longest.
An unopened bag of coffee beans with one way vent valve can last 6 to 9 months if you store it properly. If it is opened, it will last up to 6 months. After this point, your coffee might not taste as good as you are expecting.
Buying coffee beans might not be convenient as coffee ground since you have to buy a grinder and grind it anytime you need to make coffee. However, for the best taste, it worth your time and investment.
The shelf life of coffee grounds
For roasted ground coffee, its life will be shortened. If you store it in a cool and dry place, a bag of unopened coffee ground can last up to 5 months. If you already opened it, then you better consume it within 1-2 months. However, it is best to use within 2 to 3 weeks for best flavor and taste.
Ground coffee can last up to 2 years if stored in the freezer. However, the taste will alter, and the nutritional value will not be the same.
Do K Cups expire?
For people who own Keurig single brew coffee maker, “does K cup expire” is the question. Many brands sell coffee pods compatible with Keurig, so the topic should be with not only K Cup but others as well.
The good news is that coffee pods are sealed tightly with foil lid, therefore protect the ground coffee inside and lengthen its freshness. For the exact expiration date, the quickest way is to check on your box of K Cup. If not listed, it should be safe to consume within 5 to 8 months after purchase.
For K Cup and other coffee pods with undamaged seals, some people still used them in years. Just like with different types of coffee, it is best to store coffee pods or coffee capsules in an airtight container in a dry, cool place. But the longer you keep them; coffee will lose its freshness or goes stale. If you don’t mind that, then you would not need to worry about the K Cup expiration date.
The shelf life of instant coffee
Instant coffee expiration is often printed on its labels. If you find it past the expiration date and wonder if you can still use it. Then the expected shelf-life (past expiration date) can be two years and above. Given the condition that it should be stored in a cool place, avoid direct sunlight and humid areas.
Some coffee consumers believe instant coffee can last for decades if unopened. I think I am not brave enough to use that coffee. It indeed lasts way longer than ground coffee, but a decade or two is a genuinely long time. Unless the price of coffee one day goes up to the cost of gold, then we can discuss that topic again.
How long does brewed coffee last?
Alright, we have covered the shelf life of coffee bean, coffee ground and instant coffee, then what is about brewed coffee?
The answer to this question also vary depend on many factors.
Fresh brewed coffee without adding anything will still taste good after 4-5 hours. However, if you add milk, cream or honey to your coffee, then you should drink it within couple hours.
Brewed coffee can last for how long also depend on how you store it after brewing. If you keep it hot on the coffee burner or coffee warmer, you can drink it almost throughout the day, although it might not taste as good as fresh coffee after 5-6 hours.
If you keep your coffee in the air-tight coffee mud, and put it in the fridge, it can last for a few days. Brewed coffee with milk or cream should be consumed within 2 days, even you keep it in the fridge.
How long does cold brew last?
Cold brew typically can last longer than hot brewed coffee. You can keep cold brew in the fridge up to one week. However, if you store it too long, the taste will not be good anymore.
If you plan to make in large amount and drink it for a week, you should keep it in the concentrate form.
Same rule of thumb, if you add milk or cream to your cold brew, then you should drink it within 1-2 days.
What happens if you drink expired coffee?
Given all the information above, I hope it can answer the “can you drink expired coffee” question that you have. It entirely depends on which types of coffee and how long that particular coffee past its best-by date.
The cup of brewed coffee that you keep in the counter should be drunk within 2 to 3 hours. Coffee stored in the fridge for a few days can still be drinkable, but no one can guarantee its taste.
The bag of coffee beans often lasts longer than roasted ground coffee. But it is a personal choice if you still want to drink them after they expired. If you do not drink coffee regularly but still want to buy some, then try to buy coffee in a small quantity for maximum flavor and freshness.
Please remember that there are various ways when you can make good use of coffee grounds. You can check out my other post to learn how to use coffee ground as fertilizer. Besides, coffee ground can also be used as deodorization, insect repellent or even skin care. That way, you would not feel bad about wasting your coffee.
No one likes stale, off-putting smell coffee. So use stale old coffee for other purposes and reward yourself a wonderful time enjoying the fresh, flavorful new cup of Joe.