In this brief article, we will be answering the question, “does mocha go bad?”, and will be sharing some facts about the life of coffee, how to tell if coffee has gone bad, and how to keep freshly brewed coffee fresh for longer.
Does Mocha Go Bad?
The answer to this question is slightly complicated since coffee ‘going bad’ does not have the same meaning as when other foods go bad.
When coffee goes bad, it simply means that it either doesn’t taste as good or has lost its original color and aroma. Unlike most foods that go bad, mocha that’s gone bad will not harm you at all. However, coffee is a complex mixture and many important bioactive compounds involved in its aroma are volatile and are lost during storage. 2-Furfurylthiol (2-FFT), as a sulfur compound in coffee, has been established as one of the key aromas that contribute to the characteristic flavor of coffee and about 86% of this compound is lost after 1 h brewed coffee storage at 40 °C (1).
Bad coffee simply tastes bland and old. However, if it is moldy or smells odd, discard it.
How Long Can You Leave A Mocha Sitting Out?
The short answer is that a freshly brewed cup of mocha will remain ‘good’ for only about 30 minutes or so unless you refrigerate it or transfer it to an airtight thermos or carafe.
This is because brewing coffee makes it susceptible to mold, especially if it is left at room temperature. This can result in stomach problems. According to the US Department of Agriculture , the milk in a mocha doesn’t remain fresh at room temperature for over 2 hours, which mainly causes problems.
Also, coffee left at room temperature begins to oxidize after brewing, which causes its ingredients and aromas to break down. Phenolic compounds of tea, coffee and cocoa extracts degrade during time due to oxidation, producing hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). Hydrogen peroxide is a reactive oxygen species that mediates essential signaling in vivo but may cause irreversible tissue damage under dysregulated or acute exposure conditions. Beverages containing redox active compounds, such as phenolics, might produce H2O2 during shelf storage and potentially be consumed. The addition of milk to coffee may inhibit this process (2).
However, the overall freshness of a cup of coffee like mocha depends on the type of beans used; using stale grounds will result in a stale cup of coffee even though you brewed a fresh cup.
What Happens If You Drink Expired Mocha?
Drinking expired mocha might give you slight stomach gurgling, but other than that, you can drink expired coffee without getting sick.
An expired cup of mocha will undoubtedly taste rancid or bitter since it will have lost most of its flavors and aroma.
But if the coffee is moldy or contains additives like spoiled milk, you might experience some gastric unrest.
How Can You Make Freshly Brewed Mocha Last Longer?
High temperature, light (especially sunlight), oxygen exposure and physical contaminants due to inappropriate handling are important variables that determine shelf life of foods. Once prepared, foods and beverages must be protected from these degrading agents, which favor bacteria growth and oxidation of protein and lipids (4). Therefore, the best way to ensure a longer shelf life is to use clean utensils and store the mocha in cold and in an airtight bottle. If you intend to drink it on the same day, store it in a thermos.
Here are a few tips to keep a freshly brewed cup of mocha last longer:
- immediately transfer it to an airtight thermos or thermal carafe to preserve its flavor and maintain its temperature.
- transfer it to a lidded container and refrigerator to enjoy a delicious cup of iced mocha later; it will stay good for about a day or two.
- cold brew coffee for up to 20 hours to obtain a concentrated flavor and refrigerate for up to five days.
- do not freeze your coffee and thaw/heat it later, since changes in temperature compromise flavor.
- do not microwave coffee that’s been sitting out; this also destroys its flavor and turns the aromatic compounds bitter.
Remember that the quality of coffee grinds depends on their exposure to light, temperature, and humidity. So, the ideal way to keep your coffee from going bad is to store it in an airtight container in a dark and dry place at room temperature.
How To Tell If Coffee Has Really Gone Bad?
Poor storage conditions and humidity may favor microbial contaminations, and in the case of coffee beans, the most prevalent type of spoilage is due to molds of Aspergillus spp., especially A. flavus and A. parasiticus. These fungi produce aflatoxins, which are frequently detected in various coffee products such as green coffee beans and roasted coffee beans and can cause carcinogenic, mutagenic, and teratogenic effects in humans and animals (3). In addition, oxidation processes occur during storage and change the bioactive compounds present in the coffee beans, such as phenolics and lipids. Oxidation of phenolics reduces the antioxidant capacity of coffee as well as its aroma and lipid oxidation may lead to rancidity (4).
The first thing to watch out for is the smell. If the coffee beans or grind doesn’t smell like coffee anymore, or simply lacks any aroma, they’ve definitely gone bad. This is also a sign that the coffee hasn’t been stored properly.
Next comes the appearance. If there are puffy white spots on the coffee beans, this indicates mold. Throw out the beans straight away.
And last but not least is the taste. If the coffee beans looked and smelled fine, but the brew lacks a bold coffee flavor and tastes like sour fruits or rotten milk, there’s definitely something wrong with the coffee.
What Can You Do With Coffee That’s Gone Bad?
Instead of just throwing away and wasting coffee that has lost its flavor and aroma, or has become moldy, there are some productive ways you can use it.
- You can use discarded coffee beans as fertilizer for your garden or composting bin.
- You can use coffee beans that have lost their flavor in baking; this works because all you need is the essence of coffee flavor and they aren’t harmful for consumption (unless they are moldy!)
Other FAQs about Chocolate that you may be interested in.
In this brief article, we answered the question, “does mocha go bad?” and shared some facts about the life of coffee, how to tell if coffee has gone bad, and how to keep freshly brewed coffee fresh for longer.
If you have any questions or comments please let us know.
- Sun, Zhenchun, et al. Aroma binding and stability in brewed coffee: A case study of 2-furfurylthiol. Food chem, 2019, 295, 449-455.
- Bopitiya, Dilini, et al. Production of hydrogen peroxide in formulated beverages is associated with the presence of ascorbic acid combined with selected redox-active functional ingredients. Food Chem, 2021, 338, 127947.
- Byun, Kye-Hwan, et al. Effect of UV-C irradiation on inactivation of Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus and quality parameters of roasted coffee bean (Coffea arabica L.). Food Addit Contam, 2020, 37, 507-518.
- Toledo, Paulo RAB, et al. Relationship between the different aspects related to coffee quality and their volatile compounds. Compr Rev Food Sci Food Safety, 2016, 15, 705-719.