This article is focused on expired coffee grounds and coffee beans with the objective of helping you store your coffee in perfect conditions for optimal freshness and flavor and how to tell if your coffee has expired and gone off.
Keep reading for the details and some great tips!
Expired Coffee Grounds – Does Unopened Ground Coffee Expire?
As devastating as this can be for coffee junkies, opened or unopened ground coffee does expire, slowly and eventually. The spoiling of coffee is unavoidable, that is the bad news.
The good news is there are a lot of things that you can do to improve the shelf life of your coffee. The even better news is that due to a reduced exposure to oxygen unopened ground coffee will expire at a very slow rate.
Coffee is made up of degradable compounds that will over time breakdown. These compounds are amino acids, lipids and carbohydrates. When these start to degrade the quality of your beans or grounds will start to go off and lose their flavor.
Coffee roasters print two dates on their coffee: a roasted on date and an expiry date. The roasted on date indicates when the coffee was roasted. Your coffee is at its peak freshness for 3 days after this and 7 to 10 days thereafter.
The expiry date is when the coffee is best used before. Even though the expiry date is far beyond the peak freshness window, the coffee will taste reasonably good right up to this date.
Even for months after the expiry date your whole bean coffee will be good for a matter of months, after the expiration date. They will taste less than perfect and will likely taste flat. All the nuanced flavors of the origin will be lost.
Whole bean coffee will last longer than ground coffee, is something to note.
Read: What happens if you drink expired coffee?
How To Tell If Ground Coffee Is Bad
Before you decide what to do with your expired coffee, use it or discard it, or find an alternative use, you need to find out if it is actually bad. Coffee is shelf-stable and doesn’t rot in the same way that an apple or banana will.
How to tell if your ground coffee is bad is to give the whole bag a real good visual examination and check for mold and any sign of mold spores. If there is mold, forget about using your coffee beans or grounds to brew a cup of coffee and any consumables.
Check your beans or grounds for off and rancid scents. If there are any scents that are rancid and off, they will likely produce a cup of coffee that is enjoyable.
If your coffee is passing those tests, if they are medium-dark to dark roast, check them for oil. If there is a presence of oil, consider it as a good sign. A lack of oil may lead to a flat and flavorless brew.
Note: If your coffee is a light roast or medium roast, the lack of oil doesn’t mean much as they are usually locked deep inside the beans and grounds.
If your coffee passes this test, proceed to the taste test.
Simply brew a small cup of coffee as you normally would and sniff test the coffee prior to taking a sip. If there are any awful scents, then there is no need to taste test your brew. If it smells flat or perfectly fine, proceed to taking a few sips to taste test your brewed coffee.
If it tastes fine, you can continue to enjoy your coffee. If it tastes off or tastes like leftover coffee, you can simply discard it
How Long Does Unopened Coffee Last After Expiration Date?
How long your unopened coffee will last beyond the expiration date depends on a number of factors. The shelf life of ground coffee and whole bean coffee is not as simple as looking at the expiry date and adding a few months.
There are many variables at play, including are they whole beans or ground coffee, how well have you stored your unopened package of ground coffee or whole beans.
A rule of thumb is an unopened package of ground coffee stored in a cool, dry and dark place will keep well for 3-5 months after the expiration date and a package of whole beans will stay well for 6-9 months past the date printed.
This is a general rule of thumb due to the environmental factor that cannot be accounted for. That unknown factor I’m talking about is the natural heat and humidity level.
Once you have opened your bag of coffee, it is best that you consume it within two weeks for peak quality of flavor.
Read: How long can coffee last in the fridge?
How To Store Ground Coffee
If you buy whole beans your coffee will last a little longer due to the surface area being considerably smaller and the areas in which oxygen is in contact with them is significantly reduced. This, in turn, means that the chemical reaction that degrades coffee, the oxidation process, is slowed down.
It is one simple step to keeping your coffee fresh for longer and is one of the reasons that coffee aficionados like to buy whole bean coffee, a fresher and better tasting cup of coffee.
Immediately as they are ground your coffee bean particles start to lose freshness at an accelerated rate. This is why coffee lovers delay their grinding of coffee beans until the last possible moment when brewing a cup of coffee.
You should always store your coffee in an opaque airtight container, or better still an opaque professional coffee canister with an airtight lid and a one way valve. A container with those qualities will keep your beans dry and away from air while you store them, while being opaque light will be blocked.
That three enemies of ground coffee and whole beans dealt with in one neat, well-designed container. The one-way valve that coffee canisters have will allow your fresh coffee beans to degas and the carbon dioxide to escape while preventing oxygen from entering.
Where you store your coffee canister matters a lot. There is nothing wrong with storing it in your pantry, but that doesn’t eliminate heat, which is an enemy of coffee and its fresh taste.
You can aid the freshness factor by storing your canister in your fridge. You can go a step further by having a second coffee canister and store the majority of your beans or coffee grounds in the canister and keep that canister in your freezer.
Even better is keeping just 2 weeks worth of coffee beans in the canister that is in your fridge and the remainder in the canister that is in your freezer. When you are not opening and closing your coffee canister that is in your freezer every day or every week, you help to keep your beans fresher by reducing the reintroduction of fresh air.
There are some coffee experts and coffee websites that are against the idea of storing your coffee beans in the freezer. The idea is that water, which is still present in your freezer will spoil your beans. Due to your coffee canister being airtight and a sealed unit, it is not a problem.
Just don’t store your coffee in its original packaging in the freezer as it will not protect against freezer burn and is not ideal for these conditions.
How Should I Store Brewed Coffee To Keep It Fresh?
Storing brewed coffee is different, and you don’t have a lot of options. If you have bought a tasty Starbucks coffee and don’t want to throw it away. Transfer the contents into an airtight container and keep it in your fridge.
The use of an airtight container is critical because coffee, be it brewed, whole bean or ground is good at absorbing flavors and scents and will absorb the flavors of nearby food items in your fridge.
If you are heading out to work at the office, the construction site or whatever, there is no better way of keeping your brewed coffee hot than using a thermal flask.
Keeping your brewed coffee hot straight from your drip coffee machine by far your best option is using a thermal carafe. If you keep your coffee hot using the hot plate, it will eventually become stewed and start tasting awful.
Frequently Asked Questions About Expired Coffee Grounds
Is It OK To Use Expired Coffee Grounds?
Yes, in the vast majority of cases it is perfectly okay for you to use expired coffee grounds. First check for mold, bacteria and any off scents and brew a test cup to check the taste. If your ground coffee is unopened, store them in an airtight container and keep your container in a cool, dark and dry place.
What Happens If You Drink Expired Instant Coffee
Instant coffee is normally good for 2 to 20 years beyond the expiration date printed on their label. Examine to make sure that it doesn’t have any mold, or off scents. It will likely not taste as good as it should, but it should still be safe. Make a test cup first to make sure that it is okay.
How Long Does Unopened Coffee Last After Expiration Date?
Unopened coffee grounds will last for 3-5 months beyond their expiry date; unopened coffee beans will last a little longer, 6-9 months beyond their expiration date, while a jar of instant coffee will last for 2 to 20 years beyond the use by date printed on the label.
Read: How long does ground coffee last?
How Long Is Canned Coffee Good For After Expiration Date?
As long as you have stored your canned coffee beverage in your fridge, and it doesn’t have milk or any dairy as an ingredient, your canned drink should be good for two weeks after the expiry date.
Should I Throw Away Expired Coffee?
No, there is no reason to throw out your expired coffee. Check it for mold, mildew scents and brew a small test cup to check it for taste. If it tastes fine, your coffee is good to use. If it tastes off, you can use your coffee for your compost pile and to revitalize your garden soil.
What Does Bad Coffee Grounds Smell Like?
Fresh coffee grounds or beans have a strong aroma, like caramel. Once they have past their best, the aromas and taste lose their potency and become weaker, and eventually have scents of dust and ash.
Final Thoughts – Expired Coffee Grounds
Expired coffee grounds and coffee beans can be enjoyed long past their expiry date, but before you even attempt to do so you should examine them in detail to make sure they are safe to brew a cup of coffee with.
When you get fresh beans or grounds, invest in a coffee canister and store them in the way that I suggested for maximum freshness.
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