Coffee is a popular beverage due to its intense taste and stimulating effects. However, what is one to do when they realize their stored coffee is past its expiration date, just when they need a brew? Should they toss the coffee and buy a new pack, or should they go ahead and brew the ‘expired’ coffee anyway?
The answer isn’t as straightforward since coffee only loses its freshness but doesn’t go bad to the point that it can’t be consumed.
Does coffee expire?
Coffee doesn’t expire in the exact sense of the word. Despite expiration dates on the packaging, consuming coffee grounds and coffee beans beyond the expiry date won’t make you sick.
However, many coffee enthusiasts believe expired coffee is less tasty and flavorful. Also, the amount of time for which coffee retains its freshness varies depending on the type of coffee. For instance, Commercial coffee beans from brands like Dorman’s typically stay fresh for 3-6 months.
Specialty coffee beans bought from specific roasters have a freshness lifespan of 3-4 weeks, while ground coffee stays fresh for 1.5-2 weeks. Once brewed, though, coffee or a cup of Joe should be consumed within 12 hours. Extended storage beyond 12 hours, the beverage will go rancid due to the decomposition of the natural oils in the coffee.
For long-lasting coffee, ensure you buy freshly-roasted beans from roasters who roast in small batches.
Note: Unroasted coffee beans (green coffee) has a shelf life of 2 years and should be stored in the same way as roasted coffee beans or ground coffee. Avoid storing green coffee beans in wet/humid conditions, as the coffee will develop mold, making it unsuitable for roasting.
|State of the coffee||Lifespan|
|Commercial coffee beans (roasted)||3-6 months|
|Specialty coffee beans (roasted)||3-4 weeks|
|Ground coffee||1.5-2 weeks|
|Brewed coffee||12 hours|
|Unroasted coffee beans||2 years|
Still, available information on how long coffee lasts is mainly anecdotal, as the freshness of coffee also depends on the storage conditions. Ideally, coffee should be stored in a cool, dry place to keep it fresh for longer.
Can you drink expired coffee?
Yes, you can drink coffee past its expiration date without any health implications. However, the taste of the coffee may be a far cry from the first time you brewed it. So, if your only concern regarding expiration dates is health concerns (and not quality), go ahead and brew yourself a cup of ‘expired’ coffee.
What happens if you drink expired coffee?
Due to the reduced flavor quality, you’ll likely have a less-than-wonderful beverage experience when you drink expired coffee. To avoid brewing stale coffee with a funky taste, stop buying coffee bulk. Buy coffee sizes that only last a few weeks to lower the chances of the coffee going stale while in storage.
Coffee suppliers also decide on expiry timelines based on the target audience. Therefore, drinking ‘expired’ coffee might be a good or bad experience, depending on how much of a coffee connoisseur you are.
For the casual coffee drinker who buys their coffee from the supermarket, all they want is decent-tasting coffee and aren’t indulged in flavors and intensity. As such, commercial coffee brands inscribe expiration timelines lasting months or years.
Meanwhile, finicky coffee drinkers are usually worried about how the taste of their coffee is affected by how long it has been kept in storage. As such, specialty coffee roasters typically recommend that their coffee beans be ground and consumed within 3-4 weeks.
Is expired coffee still good?
From a quality perspective, expired coffee is not good, as coffee grounds and beans gradually lose quality. Coffee slowly breaks down over time due to exposure to oxygen, thereby losing its intensity and developing a weaker flavor profile.
Conversely, expired coffee is still good from a health and safety viewpoint. It won’t make you sick like stale bread with mold growing on it.
How long is coffee good after the expiration date?
There’s no objective evidence on how long coffee maintains its intensity and flavor after the expiration date has elapsed. For instance, whereas the freshness timeline for commercial coffee beans is usually 3-6 months, you can still brew the coffee for up to 30 months. You can retain the freshness of your coffee well past the expiry date through proper storage.
The first proper storage strategy is to store your coffee in bean form instead of ground coffee. Coffee beans retain their freshness longer than coffee grounds. Therefore, don’t grind all your coffee beans once before storing them. Instead, you should only grind a small amount of the beans every time you intend to brew.
Second, ensure you store your coffee in an airtight container to prevent oxygen from speeding up the degradation process. A sealed container with a vacuum pump is recommended.
You should also store coffee in a place free of heat, humidity, and sunlight, as these factors will make it stale faster.
While it may seem like the right thing to do, string coffee in the fridge isn’t recommended. This absorbent food product will soak up the scents and flavors of the other food items in the refrigerator, resulting in an undesirable taste when brewed. Moreover, the fridge will suck the moisture out of the coffee, thus speeding up the degradation process.
A more effective alternative to the fridge is the freezer. When coffee is put in its original bag, all the air compressed out, and stored in the freezer, it can last a few months without reducing quality.
The Michigan Coffee Directory: Specialty vs. Commercial Grade Coffee – The Basics