Can you drink expired coffee?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “can you drink expired coffee” with an in-depth analysis of whether or not you can drink expired coffee and the health implications of drinking expired coffee. Moreover, we are going to discuss the ways to do a sensory evaluation of coffee and different ways to use expired coffee. 

Can you drink expired coffee?

You can drink expired coffee provided that it was stored properly and there are no signs of spoilage associated with it. Moreover, when it comes to coffee, it does not go bad in the conventional terms but its flavor and quality begin to degrade after a certain time. Thus, you can drink expired coffee without worrying about getting sick.

It is worth mentioning that it is the “best by” or “best before” date rather than the expiration date that is written on the pack of coffee and this date refers to the quality rather than safety so the coffee doesn’t go bad immediately after the best before date. 

This date refers to the time during which you can enjoy the peak quality and flavor of coffee but you can still use coffee that is past this date as long as it was stored properly, there is no hole in the pack and no signs of spoilage are present.

Moreover, the way you have stored your coffee also impacts whether or not it is still safe to consume. 

For instance, coffee beans can last for up to 6 months if they are properly stored. This time can vary depending upon the coffee beans’ roasting technique, processing, and storage conditions.  

On the other hand, open ground coffee lasts for about a month when stored appropriately in the pantry, but it loses its peak freshness and flavor after 2 weeks. While the unopened sealed ground coffee can last for about 3-5 months in your pantry.

Moreover, moisture in the surroundings or humidity is an important factor for the growth of microorganisms. The decreased humidity prevents the growth and survival of the bacteria on coffee leaves. You can keep your coffee safe from any kind of small living entity by storing them at a relative humidity between 50% and 60%.

It is worth mentioning that you should never store your coffee, irrespective of whether it is green coffee or black coffee, in the refrigerator. The reason behind this is that the moisture content of the fridge is high and if this moisture finds its way to your coffee, it will make it stale. Therefore you should never store coffee in the fridge. The same holds the truth for a freezer and freezing the coffee is also not something that we recommend.

But once the coffee is brewed, you can refrigerate it in an air-tight bottle or container.

What are the health implications of drinking expired coffee?

No doubt coffee has a long shelf life if it is properly stored in an air-tight container in a cool, dry, and dark place away from direct sunlight and heat. But after a certain time, the coffee loses its flavor, aroma, color, and overall quality. 

So we can say that the coffee expires when it loses its flavor and aroma but as long as your coffee does not have any mold or other organic growth present on it, you can consume it and it won’t harm you but certainly, it won’t provide you with the same flavor and aroma as that of the fresh coffee.

Sensory evaluation of coffee

Certain indicators point out spoiled coffee, therefore you should consider the appearance, taste, and smell of your coffee to reach a final verdict whether it is still suitable to consume or if it has gone bad.

  1. The freshly roasted coffee beans have a shiny and glossy appearance, so if the coffee beans you have are dull and matte then it is an indication that they are old and are past their prime age.
  1. If you spot a mold or any other organic growth in your coffee, then the best thing you can do is to get rid of this coffee as it is an indication of bad coffee.
  1. The coffee beans that have gone bad will lack the characteristic aroma of the coffee.
  1. If the coffee has passed the visual and smell test, then you can go ahead and taste it. A lack of flavor or too much bitter flavor points out that your coffee beans have gone bad.

Tips to properly store coffee

  1. When it comes to the unopened package of coffee, you can store it in a cool, dry, and dark place away from direct sunlight and heat. It means that you can easily store the unopened box of coffee in a dry corner of your pantry or kitchen cabinet.
  1. In the case of open coffee, it is recommended to transfer your leftover coffee in an air-tight container and store it in a cool, dry, and dark corner of your pantry or kitchen cabinet to preserve its freshness for a long time. You should never store your coffee in a humid environment as humidity is the enemy of the delicate flavors of coffee and it can even spoil your coffee (if coffee is stored for too long in a humid environment and that too uncovered).
  1. The quality of coffee can degrade with the fluctuations in temperature. Therefore not only should you store coffee at room temperature but you should also make sure that you are not storing them near a heater or an air-conditioner.
  1. Coffee can pick up smells and that is another reason why we advised you to store your open coffee in an air-tight container or resealable plastic zipper bag. Moreover, you should always try to store your coffee away from strong-smelling foods like garlic and onion.
  1. UV radiations present in the sunlight can also mess up the delicate flavors of coffee, therefore it is recommended that once you open your coffee pack, store the rest of the coffee in a tinted or colored air-tight container. The reason behind using a tinted or colored container is that the sunlight won’t be able to penetrate it, thereby the quality of the coffee will be preserved for a long time.
  1. Never use a wet spoon to scoop out coffee. Moreover, you should close the lid of the container in which you stored coffee as soon as you are done scooping out the coffee that you needed.

How to use expired coffee?

If you don’t like to use the coffee after its expiration date for drinking, you can still use it for a lot of other purposes. But still, make sure that the coffee should not show any signs of spoilage.

You can use the coffee as compost in your soil as the coffee can break down the materials in the soil faster and make it enriched. It can also act as a natural fertilizer for which you just need to sprinkle the coffee in your garden.

The hair when washed with coffee prevents the problems of the itchy and irritated scalp. The coffee can also act as a smell cutter and you can use them to reduce the smell by placing it in any smelly area or in shoes too.

Further, coffee can also be used to exfoliate the skin.

You can read more about creative ways to use old coffee grounds here.

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the question “can you drink expired coffee” with an in-depth analysis of whether or not you can drink expired coffee and the health implications of drinking expired coffee. Moreover, we discussed the ways to do a sensory evaluation of coffee and different ways to use expired coffee. 

Citations

https://www.purewow.com/food/does-coffee-go-bad#:~:text=Is%20it%20safe%20to%20drink,the%20expiration%20date%20has%20passed.
https://www.hilinecoffee.com/blogs/cafe/does-coffee-go-bad

Mahnoor Asghar is a Clinical Nutritionist with a bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is compassionate and dedicated to playing her part in the well-being of the masses. She wants to play a fruitful role in creating nutrition and health-related awareness among the general public. Additionally, she has a keen eye for detail and loves to create content related to food, nutrition, health, and wellness.