Ground coffee and coffee beans
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Can You Drink Expired Coffee? (Yes, but…)

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For most people across all cultures worldwide, starting the day with a hot cup of coffee is an incredibly important habit. Without it, their entire day could be disrupted. But what if you find that you’ve run out of coffee? Can you reach for coffee that’s perhaps past its expiration date?

Yes, you can drink expired coffee. However, it’s important to check that the coffee hasn’t gotten moldy, because that can cause stomach problems for you. The more time has passed since its expiration date, the more the coffee’s flavor will change for the worse.

In this article, we’re going to explore everything you need to know about drinking coffee, especially if it has expired or gone bad.

Let’s get started.

How Long Does Coffee Normally Last?

It can take months or years after the manufacturing or harvesting date before coffee expires. The clearest indicator of how long your coffee might last is the Best By or Expiration Date on the package itself. Of course, that’s assuming your coffee came pre-packaged and printed with that information in the first place.

How long your coffee lasts, even after the expiration date, will depend on three things: 

  • the form that the coffee is in (e.g. ground coffee, whole beans, instant coffee).
  • where you’ve stored it (e.g. in the cupboard or in the freezer).
  • whether it’s still sealed or has been opened.

So, for example, a sealed package of coffee kept in the freezer will last much longer past its expiration date when compared to an open package of ground coffee left in your kitchen cupboard.

How Long Is Coffee Good After The Expiration Date?

Here’s a lesser-known fact about food items of all kinds and their expiration dates: those dates are more of an estimate, rather than a solid moment in time when the coffee goes bad.

In reality, your coffee lasts quite some time well beyond the expiration date printed on the package. 

As mentioned in the previous section, that time is determined by three factors: what form the coffee takes, where you’ve stored it, and whether or not it has been opened.

Here are some examples:

  • If you have ground coffee: It’ll last up to 5 months beyond the expiration date.
  • If you have whole coffee beans: They’ll last up to 6 months beyond the expiration date.
  • If you have instant coffee: It’ll last up to 20 years beyond the expiration date.

Here’s something to remember, though: coffee in any form that is still sealed will last much longer than if it were unsealed. Also, keeping coffee in the freezer will also make it last longer than if you keep it anywhere else.

How Do You Know If Coffee Has Gone Bad?

Even if your coffee has gone past its expiration date, it’s usually still drinkable. That is, of course, as long as the coffee hasn’t gone bad yet. There are a few methods that you can use to determine if your coffee has gone bad or not, and you can do that by sight, by smell, and by taste.

Let’s look a little closer at each one.

By Sight

Using your sight to figure out if coffee has gone bad isn’t as easy as it sounds. The reason for that is coffee pretty much looks exactly the same no matter how old it is.

However, there is one clear sign that you can look out for: mold. If you were to ever spot mold on your coffee, it’s best to avoid consuming it at all. Doing so could result in an upset stomach or even food poisoning.

By Smell

Using your sense of smell is usually more effective when identifying coffee that’s gone bad. Coffee usually has a very pleasant and unmistakable aroma, best described as being similar to that of caramel. 

As that coffee goes bad, it’ll first lose that pleasant aroma. Then, the smell will turn dusty, something some people describe as smelling just like an ashtray. The more time passes, the stronger that smell will become.

By Taste

Besides smell, the best way to figure out if your coffee has gone bad is to actually taste it. The flavor of coffee is known to go rancid and excessively bitter once the beans have gone bad.

So, suppose you have a large batch of coffee beans or grounds and you’re wondering if they’re still good to consume. Visually inspecting and smelling them might help, but brewing and tasting a small sample is the best way to know if the coffee is still good.

Can You Get Sick From Drinking Old Coffee?

Whether or not you get sick from drinking old coffee will depend on how long it has been since the coffee’s expiration date.

You see, coffee that has become somewhat old will lose a lot of its flavor and aroma. As a result, the taste and smell of that hot cup of coffee will be flat or stale. The only benefit that you’ll get from drinking old coffee is that it might offer you the caffeine fix that you’re looking for.

Sure, when your coffee has become like that, it’s no longer nice to drink. However, you probably won’t get sick from drinking it either.

The story can be very different if your coffee has become so old that it’s growing mold and tastes rancid when you brew it. If that’s how old your coffee is, then you’ll want to get rid of it immediately. 

Consuming coffee that has reached that state can and will make you sick, so unless you want to get food poisoning, it’s best to avoid it completely.

How Do You Revive Old Coffee?

Even if you have expired coffee that’s safe to drink, the beverage will lack the aroma and flavor that you’d normally expect. Thankfully, there are several things that you can add to the coffee to sort of ‘revive’ it and make it taste a little better.

Here are a few of them:

  • Cinnamon: Cinnamon is a common spice that almost every household would already have. Plus, it’s something that many coffee drinkers already add to their beverages as it is.

If you find yourself with a batch of old coffee that’s lost its taste, mixing some cinnamon powder into it will help to add some of that familiar flavor into the drink. 


The exact amount of cinnamon to add will differ depending on how much of its original flavor your coffee still has, and also how strong of a cinnamon flavor you’d like in the drink.

  • Vanilla Extract: Vanilla extract is another one of those ingredients that’s somewhat common among coffee drinkers. Just as with cinnamon, you’ll want to add it to taste; some people prefer a stronger vanilla flavor. Just make sure that you’re using the real stuff, and not an imitation vanilla extract!
  • Coffee-flavored Syrup: What better way is there to revive the taste of coffee than to add a coffee-flavored syrup into the mix? Adding coffee flavoring to coffee might feel like it’s cheating (even though there are no rules against it!), but it works!
  • Black Walnut Or Almond Oil: If you have a lot of patience, you can also use this method. Add black walnut or almond oils into your coffee and let it sit. It’s an excellent way to prevent your coffee beans from going to waste. The downside? You’ll need to let it sit for at least 14 days to infuse the flavors.

How Do You Store Coffee So It Lasts Longer?

You may already know that the expiration date on your coffee is usually a suggestion or an indicator, rather than a hard deadline. As long as coffee is stored correctly, it can last a long time well beyond that ‘best by’ date.

So, what’s the best way to store coffee so that it lasts longer?

Well, first and foremost, you must understand what makes coffee go bad in the first place. That’s moisture, air, light, and heat. Keep those four things away from your coffee, and it’ll keep for much longer.

With that in mind, here’s what you’ll want to do with your coffee:

  • Store it in an air-tight container or bag. The original packaging may not be sufficient if you plan to keep it for the long term. So, invest in a container that will suit this purpose.
  • Make sure that the container or bag is completely non-transparent. There should be absolutely no light getting through to the beans inside.
  • Temperature-wise, it’s always best to store coffee at room temperature.
  • Place the container or bag in a dark and cool area of your kitchen or home.

Does Freezing Coffee Keep It Fresh Longer?

Yes, freezing coffee is an excellent way to keep it fresh for much longer. However, it’s important to note that all of the tips mentioned above still apply.

To make the coffee last much longer, you should freeze it in an opaque airtight container or vacuum-sealed bag. 

Again, the original packaging may not be enough to store the coffee for the long term, so be sure to store it in something better for this purpose.

Vacuum sealing bags and equipment are much more affordable these days than ever before. Check your local hardware store or supermarket to see if it would make a good solution to help you store your coffee for much longer.

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