Can You Drink Out of Date Coffee Granules? (Read This First!)

I must admit to loving a cup of high quality instant coffee now and then. But can you drink it when it’s out of date?

You can drink out-of-date instant coffee granules for up to two years after their expiry date, provided they’ve been stored in an airtight container and do not smell musty or have white mold on them. The older the coffee granules are though, the less flavor they will have.

Let’s dive down into the subject of out-of-date coffee granules in more detail, and discover if it really does expire, how absolutely long it can last while keeping its flavor – and if it’s bad to drink it when it’s really old…

Can You Drink Out of Date Coffee Granules?

Do Instant Coffee Granules Expire?

Yes, instant coffee granules will expire – eventually. If stored correctly, your instant coffee can actually last a long time, often for far longer than the expiration date suggests.

Like all foodstuffs, instant coffee will eventually deteriorate. If moisture gets into its container, it could even develop mold. So, the way to keep your coffee as fresh as possible is to store it in an airtight container, preferably in a dark place, and with zero chance of any moisture getting in and spoiling the granules.

However, just because the coffee won’t go bad if stored correctly, it doesn’t mean it will be a pleasure to drink. Over time and with any exposure to air, the compounds in the granules will break down, leading to a stale flavor. Fresher is definitely better when it comes to enjoying a cup of coffee.

How Long is Instant Coffee Good After the Expiration Date?

Take a look at the packaging on your coffee, and you’ll see an expiration date. Coffee manufacturers simply can’t afford to be optimistic about these, so they tend to be set with an error margin. 

If you store your instant coffee correctly (in a sealed glass or plastic container, in a dark, dry place), you should be able to extend its drinkable life. How long past the expiration date will it last? It’s hard to say, but some folks swear that their coffee lasts for years because they keep it tightly sealed.

Of course, we were asked “how long will it be good for”. A real coffee aficionado would find their coffee unacceptable after just a short amount of time: a cash-strapped student may be a bit less fussy.

The chemical and physical compounds that make up the coffee granules will be deteriorating, even in appropriate storage. Over time, the quality and flavor will diminish, and you’ll have a tasteless or even a stale brew. 

Can You Drink 2-Year-Old Instant Coffee?

Provided there’s no mold or unpleasant smell, you should be able to drink 2-year-old instant coffee. If it’s been stored in an airtight container, it will be less flavorsome than when it was fresh, but it won’t have gone bad.

Can you keep instant coffee in the freezer for two years? Well, you can keep it in the freezer as long as you like, but it really will produce a dull-tasting cup. Try not to freeze coffee granules, as it’s a sure-fire way of killing off the flavor.

Can You Drink 3-Year-Old Instant Coffee?

We’ve heard of people keeping coffee for 20 years, so we reckon that three years is OK! As we mentioned earlier, if you want to extend the life of your instant coffee granules, you need to make sure that they’re stored properly.

Keep the coffee in an airtight container in a dry and dark environment. Make sure no moisture can enter the container, because this will lead to mold growth. After three years in these conditions, the coffee shouldn’t have gone bad, but its flavor will be compromised.

If you want to use up your old instant coffee granules but would prefer to drink something richer and more flavorsome, you can always use them to make coffee cake. Here’s how to make a delicious coffee sponge cake using instant coffee

How Do You Know if Instant Coffee Has Gone Bad?

If you see anything white and fluffy on the granules, get rid of the coffee immediately! This is mold, and you really don’t want to be drinking that… 

Also, what does it smell like? If it smells unpleasant, again, this is a warning sign that it shouldn’t be drunk. Our noses have evolved to be fantastic early-warning systems, and you should quickly be able to tell if something has gone bad by its aroma. If you’re not sure and can’t quite tell whether it smells weird or not, just don’t take the risk.

How Do You Know if Instant Coffee Has Gone Bad?
How Do You Know if Instant Coffee Has Gone Bad?

What Happens if You Drink Expired Instant Coffee?

Nothing bad happens if you drink expired instant coffee, unless it’s moldy or has an unpleasant smell. However, after a while, even carefully stored coffee will lose that lovely rich taste and aroma that we all love.

As the saying (almost) goes, just because you can do something, it doesn’t mean that you should. 

Can You Get Food Poisoning From Old Instant Coffee?

Unless you accidentally drink expired instant coffee that’s developed mold, you shouldn’t get food poisoning from old granules.

Obviously, don’t return to a cup of coffee that’s already been made: coffee becomes moldy really quickly once water has been added, and this process is even faster if you’ve added milk or cream.

However, coffee that’s been stored safely shouldn’t develop mold. Invest in something like a mason jar which creates an airtight seal. This will prevent spores getting in and spoiling the granules, and greatly reduces the risk of food poisoning.

As always, if something doesn’t seem right, don’t risk it. If you’re not happy with the look or smell of your coffee, don’t drink it.

Can Expired Instant Coffee Give You Diarrhea?

You shouldn’t get sick from drinking expired instant coffee, unless it’s gone bad. If the coffee still smells OK and you can’t see any mold, you should be able to drink it without becoming sick.

However, some people get diarrhea after drinking any coffee, fresh or expired. Why is this? Caffeine is what’s called a “gastrointestinal stimulant”, which translated into non-medical speak means that it causes food to move faster through the digestive tract. In some people, this can lead to diarrhea. 

In that case, would drinking decaf help? Probably not, as both caf and decaf stimulate a hormone called gastrin, which tells our stomachs to release gastric acid. This prompts us to need the bathroom.

What is clear, is that unless it’s gone bad and moldy, expired instant coffee is no more or less likely to give you diarrhea than fresh granules would.

Always seek professional medical advice if you’re unsure.

Summary: Drinking Expired Instant Coffee Granules

Just as with coffee grounds and pods – the longer you leave coffee granules past their expiry date – the more flavor will be lost.

So mold and musty smells aside, isn’t it just better to keep that flavor locked in by using your instant coffee within its expiration date?

I’m not necessarily worried about getting sick – but when it comes to my morning coffee I refuse to play Russian roulette with the flavor! 🙂