Can You Drink Out of Date Coffee Pods? (Essential Reading)

We don’t use that many coffee pods, but my folks do. They always have a huge stash of them for their machine. So how long do they last and can you drink them when they’re out of date?

You can drink out-of-date sealed coffee pods for up to a year after their expiry date. However, the best flavor will be achieved within four months of their Best Before date. Coffee in old pods that’s been left for even a couple of years won’t make you sick but just won’t taste very nice.

Let’s explore the topic of expiring coffee pods in more detail, and discover how long they last, if it’s harmful to use them after they expire, and how you know they’ve eventually gone bad…

Can You Drink Out of Date Coffee Pods?

Do Coffee Pods Expire?

Ground coffee doesn’t spoil or go rancid like many foods do. It has a famously long shelf life. In fact, many coffee pods won’t even have expiration dates stamped on them. Instead, they are stamped with a Best Before or Best By date.

C​offee can become stale and even moldy with exposure to light, oxygen and moisture, but coffee pods are sealed against those things. Not only that, but pod manufacturers suck the oxygen out of the pod and replace it with nitrogen before hermetically sealing it up. 

B​efore putting the coffee pod in the machine, double check that the membrane is intact by gently pressing on it. It should be firmly sealed.

Manufacturers recommend storing pods in a cool, dark, and dry place. If your pod has become too hot in storage, the pod can sweat moisture into the grounds and they can mold.

I​f your coffee pods have more perishable additives like sweeteners, spices, milk products or some types of flavoring (like hazelnut), then they may not have an indefinite shelf life like plain coffee. If you have pods with additives or milk products, try to use them before the Best By date.

H​ere’s an article about coffee pods and how long they last.

How Long Are Coffee Pods Good After the Expiration Date?

Many pods don’t have an expiration date – only a Best Before date – because they aren’t required to. They aren’t required to by law because they can’t technically go bad, thanks to the nature of coffee and the tightly sealed pod. Instead, they stamp a Best By or Best Before date.

Most pod producers guarantee their coffee flavor for four months. The Best By or Best Before date typically runs from 6 to 11 months after the date of production. 

But in the sealed environment of the pod, the coffee will stay fresh even longer. Unless the membrane of the pod has been damaged, the pod will be good long after the Best Before or Best By date. Most coffee pod producers say that their coffee will stay fresh for a year, or even two years, after the Best By date.

While we love the compostable pods available today, biodegradable pods won’t stay fresh as long as the plastic ones because the seal isn’t quite as airtight. If you use biodegradable pods, then stick to the Best By date.

Can You Use Out-of-Date Dolce Gusto Pods?

Y​up. It’s OK to use out-of-date Dolce Gusto pods. If your pods contain only coffee, then they will be good up to a year after the Best By date.

But, b​e aware that some Dolce Gusto pods have milk products in it, like the lattes or cappuccinos. Check the list of ingredients on your pods. If they have additives like milk products or flavorings, use the pods before the Best Before date. And, be sure to store your pods in a cool, dark place.

Is It Ok To Drink Expired Nespresso Pods?

N​espresso pods have two dates stamped on them: the day they were produced and a Best Before date. They don’t actually have an expiration date. 

Nespresso says the absolute best flavor will be in the first four months. But the Best Before date is up to 9 months after the production date. Nespresso pods don’t actually have an expiration date stamped on them, because like other coffee pods, they can last pretty much indefinitely.

H​ere’s a resource for Nespresso pod users, and here’s a great video about where to find the expiry date on Nespresso pods (great accent btw):

Do Nescafe Coffee Pods Expire?

Some N​escafe pods do contain dairy products. Check the list of ingredients. If your pods do contain additives like dairy products, nut oils or sweeteners, use them before the Best By date.

Do Starbucks Coffee Pods Expire?

M​ost Starbucks coffee pods only contain coffee. For coffee-only pods, they will taste the freshest if you use them before the Best Buy date but they are good for a year or more after that.

I​f you love the flavored or white coffees – and who doesn’t crave Pumpkin Pie Spice coffee in the fall – try to use them by the Best Before date. The additives won’t last as long as the coffee. 

Can You Drink 2-Year-Old Coffee Pods?

C​offee pod gurus say yes, 2-year-old coffee pods should still be good to use. However, if you are a coffee guru, 2-year-old coffee won’t have the flavor that 2-month-old coffee will.

Can You Drink 3-Year-Old Coffee Pods?

P​robably not. We checked in with coffee pod gurus and they said that you should probably limit your coffee pods to two years over the best-by date. The problem is not that they will make you sick: a sealed coffee pod won’t do that. The problem is that is just won’t be tasty.

I​f you have bought your pods in batches, then sacrifice a pod. Open up the membrane with a sharp knife and take a good long whiff of the coffee inside. If you can’t really smell anything, then it’s time to recycle or trash them.

How Do You Know if a Coffee Pod Has Gone Bad?
How Do You Know if a Coffee Pod Has Gone Bad?

How Do You Know if a Coffee Pod Has Gone Bad?

I​f a pod is bad, there are signs. First, gently press on the membrane. A tightly sealed membrane will resist your pressure. If the membrane gives in quickly, then discard the pod. 

Next, take a look at an old pod in bright light. Look at the membrane. It should be slightly bowed out, but only slightly. If it is bulging out, then discard the pod. If the membrane has been punctured (even with holes too small to see), then the nitrogen has escaped and the membrane will be sunken in. Discard the pod.

Shake the pod. You should hear a few thousand tiny grounds inside. If you hear large clumps, discard the pod.

What Happens if You Drink an Expired Coffee Pod?

I​f you drink an expired coffee pod, you won’t get sick. You will just be disappointed with a flavorless cup of coffee. Some folks who have used really old coffee pods have reported that the coffee tasted bitter and burnt.

Can You Get Food Poisoning From Old Coffee Pods?

C​offee is an unusual source of food poisoning. If you think you got food poisoning from your morning java, it’s more likely to have come from your morning java machine.

C​offee brewing machines have lots of places where mold can grow – which can ultimately make you sick.

Final Words on Using Out-of-Date Coffee Pods

So the long and short of this is that if you enjoy coffee (who doesn’t?!), then using expired coffee pods is ok to do within a year as they’ll keep their flavor.

Any older than that and you may as well not bother using them as the taste will either be all wrong or all gone.

Not to be a purist about all this, but if you grind and brew your coffee fresh every time then you won’t have these problems anyway. 😉