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When does coffee go bad?

Over the last few months, my small obsession with coffee has turned into a full-blown addiction. When i first started drinking coffee, it took me a while to finish a bag and i noticed that the flavor became different over time.

This made me wonder, when does coffee go bad?

Well, the shelf life of coffee depends on several factors like the preparation method, storage, and best before date. The brand doesn't matter - when coffee is not stored properly, it will have a shorter shelf life. Some brands can last for months or years.

To ensure it lasts for long, I keep my coffee in a cool dry place. Yet this doesn’t mean that it will stay fresh. To ensure coffee doesn’t go stale, I keep it in an airtight container. I also learned that when I store coffee in the freezer, it lasts longer.

How long before coffee goes bad when sealed/opened

With proper storage, my coffee lasts for 3-5 months at room temperature. It lasts longer when I keep it in the freezer. Whole bean coffee can last for 6-9 months and up to 3 years in a freezer. On the other hand, instant coffee can last up to 20 years. I have realized most packaging has an aluminum layer that keeps the moisture out.

When opened, freshly ground coffee can last 3-5 months in the freezer. On the other hand, fresh coffee can last up to two years in the freezer. For instant coffee, the shelf life of opened coffee can be the same as the unopened package. Some come with a tightly sealed zip lock that can be rolled up to ensure the freshness stays intact.

How long does coffee go bad after brewing

brewing coffee

When I brew coffee it can remain fresh up to two hours. Beyond that, it can lose its freshness and flavor. I once took coffee that had been brewed for long and it tasted weird. You’re probably asking yourself, will my brewed coffee go bad overnight? Yes, freshly brewed coffee will go bad within a few hours. But again, it will depend on whether the coffee has milk in it.

Generally, coffee with milk will spoil in less than four hours when stored at room temperature. This explains why when I brew my coffee with milk, I drink it immediately. Two days ago, I had a cup of instant coffee that was sitting in my kitchen countertop and I can tell it tasted good. Although it didn’t taste as good as freshly brewed coffee, I didn’t have any discomfort at all. Ask any coffee expert and they will tell you that coffee will still give you that caffeine kick a few hours after brewing it.

Still, I find keeping freshly brewed coffee in the fridge of help. Depending on whether it had milk or not, coffee can last up to 4 days. If my coffee sits at the table for a couple of hours and then it resembles black liquid, it’s almost stale.

How can I tell if my coffee has gone bad?

I noticed that coffee looks the same with age - apart from a few varies that change from a deep dark color to light brown. The easiest way I could tell my coffee had gone bad is to use the nose. If coffee is bad, the pleasant aroma will be gone.

Since the essential oils in coffee begin to evaporate past the expiry date, I ensure I use it before the expiry date. It’s worth mentioning that ground coffee doesn’t mold, so it’s hard to tell whether it has gone bad.

Coffee is made of thousands of carbohydrates, lipids, and amino acids. With passage in time, the volatile organic compounds evaporate, lipids go rancid, and carbs go stale. Because of the oxidation process, the molecular structure changes which result in staleness. Keep in mind coffee is affected by humidity, light, and temperature.

I can also perform the freshness test by putting some coffee beans in a zipper bag, pulling out all the air, and then zipping it. I leave it overnight and then observe the results. If the bag puffs up, that shows the presence of carbon dioxide. And if the bag remains flat, then I can conclude that my coffee is not fresh.

What I do when my coffee goes bad

throwing coffee

When my coffee goes bad, the only option left is to throw it away. Recently, I realized I can do other things to ensure coffee doesn’t go into waste. I can use it for baking if I just need some coffee flavor. I also use brewed coffee with a scoop of milk and vanilla ice cream to make a milkshake.

Another way of using coffee when it’s nearing the expiry date is to freeze it and make coffee cubes. I can also give my dessert a kick of Mocha flavor by adding coffee.

If my ground coffee goes bad, I can use it as an abrasive. It works wonders when cleaning the food stuck on the dishes. And to ensure my skin doesn’t get into contact with the caffeine, I wear dish gloves.

Last week, my friend visited my house and showed me how to make soap with coffee. This works great for people with sensitive skin. Who wouldn’t like to take an energetic shower with coffee? It’s scientifically proven that coffee can help to clean the skin pores. To make coffee scrub, you should mix natural coconut oil with water.

Finally, I use coffee in my gardening. It’s a great way of fertilizing my plants. Coffee is rich in nitrogen and this is what plants love. However, I avoid using too much because it can increase the PH in the soil.

How to increase the shelf life of coffee

Coffee will degrade depending on the surface. If I want my coffee to last for long, I buy coffee grains and grind them. Then, I store the ground coffee in an airtight container. This ensures light doesn’t alter the organic compounds.

I avoid keeping coffee beans in the refrigerator because they can easily absorb moisture. If it does, it will taste worse than those approaching the expiry date. Yet, why should I allow coffee to take valuable time in my freezer? I’d rather save that space for a cake or pie. If I have to freeze the coffee beans, I have to put them first in an airtight container.

The other approach that I use to ensure my coffee lasts longer is to buy less. I just figure out how much I need for a week or two and buy an exact amount.