Does Coffee Go Bad If You Let It Sit Out?

Does Coffee Go Bad If You Let It Sit Out?

Does coffee go bad after you let it sit out? The answer to this question is yes! Coffee does go bad after you let it sit out because it looses it’s flavor unless you put it in an air tight container.

Coffee is a complicated thing because it’s made up of about 1,000 different molecules that include amino acids, carbs and lipids so when you leave coffee beans sitting out for too long those compounds will naturally begin to break down over time.

The same is true for cups of coffee, the longer you leave a cup of coffee out in the open air it’s going to go stale because the lipids in the coffee will go rancid. This is why it’s almost unbearable to drink a stale cup of coffee (unless you’re desperate) because stale coffee just doesn’t taste like a regular, freshly brewed cup of coffee does.

How Long Will Your Coffee Last?

How long your coffee will last depends on its form, as well as where and how it’s stored. If taste is your concern, your best bet is to store coffee in an airtight container somewhere cool, dry, and dark. Stored this way, ground coffee can be used for a few months past its expiration date, whole bean for up to nine months, and instant coffee for up to twenty years. You can also store coffee in the freezer, which greatly extends its shelf life (anywhere from one to three years for whole bean and ground coffee, and practically indefinitely for instant). However, freezing coffee practically destroys its flavor; the more interesting parts of the flavor profile vanish, and coffee that’s thawed from frozen will taste dull.

Peak flavor can vary, depending on the type of beans, the roast, and the brewing method used. In all cases, however, your safest bet is to use coffee as close to the roasting date (not the expiration date) as possible. Often, the expiration date is a year from the date on which the beans were roasted. The closer you are to the latter than the former, the less fresh (and less tasty) the coffee. If you’ve bought coffee and you’re not sure when you’ll use it, as happens if you usually drink regular but keep a can of decaf onhand for company, at least keep it sealed ’til you’re ready to use it. Most coffees are packed with nitrogen to slow spoilage, but once the seal is broken, you’re trading nitrogen for oxygen and humidity, both of which rob your coffee of flavor.

Since the preceding sounds a bit confusing (and Googling returns all sorts of contradictory information), let’s distill this to its essence. Fresh coffee is best, period. Fresh ground, if you have the beans and a grinder; as close as possible to the date of purchase if you’ve bought your coffee pre-ground. If it looks or smells a bit “off” (rancid, moldy, or mildewy), throw it out. If it just smells flat, it’s going to taste flat, since the smell of coffee is such an important part of its flavor profile. Unless it’s gone moldy, you shouldn’t get sick from expired coffee, but just because you can drink coffee that’s past its expiration date doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea. Freshness matters!

How To Store Coffee

To preserve your coffee beans it’s best to store your beans in an opaque container because clear jars or canisters will only let the light in and that’s going to break down your coffee beans quicker.

The same is true when it comes to drinking coffee. If you plan on drinking your coffee throughout the day from a cup, you should choose an opaque colored cup with a lid just so you can enjoy your fresh cup of coffee during the day without it loosing it’s flavor.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *