I’ll come right out and say it – I’ve never drunk out-of-date ground coffee. But it is ok to do so or is it potentially harmful?
Drinking expired ground coffee will not make you sick, but the coffee itself may have lost its flavor due to a combination of oxidation, light, moisture, and heat. However, if kept in an airtight container, ground coffee should taste good for five months after the expiry date.
Let’s explore the theme of drinking expired ground coffee in more detail, and discover if coffee grinds do actually expire, what they taste like when they do – and if it’s a bad idea to try and drink them…
Does Ground Coffee Expire?
Check out a bag of ground coffee and you won’t find an expiration date because ground coffee doesn’t rot. It doesn’t putrefy, decay or spoil. You might find a Best By or Enjoy Before date stamped on the package, but not an expiration date.
Technically, coffee has an unlimited shelf life, thanks to its chemical composition and to the roasting process the beans go through.
While ground coffee doesn’t spoil, ground coffee mixed with flavorings, dairy products, oils and sugars can go bad. Check out the ingredients label.
Even though the manufacturer may not have an expiration date printed, if your favorite coffee has any of these add ons, consider using it by the Best Before date.
Here’s an interesting video with 7 facts about coffee you didn’t know.
How Long is Ground Coffee Good After the Expiration Date?
Your ground coffee should taste good up to 5 months after the Best Before date, assuming you have stored the ground coffee in an airtight container in a cool, dark space.
Ground coffee producers stamp a Best By or Best Before date on most ground coffee packages. That date is between six and nine months from when the coffee was ground and packaged. That means most coffee grounds will taste great for a little past a year from the date they were ground up and packaged.
Coffee can last a long time. The problem is that the coffee flavor may not.
Oxidation is the process of something taking up oxygen. Oxidation is one of the big four bad things that can cause ground coffee to go stale. The others are light, moisture and heat.
A simple way to keep your ground coffee as fresh as possible is to store it in an airtight container in a cool, dark space. When you are at the store, consider buying only a small amount – a week or two – of ground coffee. Choose the freshest package of ground coffee, which is the one with the Best By date that is farthest away.
When you get home, store all but a few days’ worth of coffee in an airtight container in a cupboard. Store the few days’ worth of coffee in a smaller container. Two containers are better than one because when you open a container you introduce oxygen, which will degrade the flavor.
Here’s Lucky Belly with tips on storing coffee for a long time.
Can You Drink 2-Year-Old Ground Coffee?
Yes, you can drink 2-year-old coffee. It will not make you sick. But, if you are a hardcore coffee lover, you may notice that it just doesn’t smell or taste as fresh.
To preserve the flavor of your coffee grounds, store it in its original package, unopened, in a cool, dry space. If you have to open a package, be sure to squeeze the air out of the package and store it in an airtight container.
Another method some say will extend the life of ground coffee is freezing, but there is plenty of controversy. For every person that says this method can extend the life of coffee grounds, someone else will say it creates only stale coffee. The problem is moisture.
The biggest problem with freezing coffee grounds (or anything, basically – ice crystals, anyone?) is moisture. When coffee grounds get wet, they go stale, even in the freezer.
You can avoid the moisture problem if you freeze in small batches (only a week’s worth at a time), use containers made from heavy plastic, and carefully vacuum seal the grounds.
If you freeze your coffee grounds with the method above, taking out only a week’s worth from the freezer at a time, you can add a year to two years beyond the Best By date.
Can You Drink 3-Year-Old Ground Coffee?
Yes, you can. Three-year-old coffee won’t make you sick. But you probably won’t like the taste or the smell. Too stale. No flavor. No eyes rolling back in the head aroma.
The problem is that, with time, the flavor compounds in coffee dissipate. Ground coffee has a lot of surface area. Even in an unopened bag, and even in the freezer, the flavor will eventually fade.
If your coffee grounds are 3 years old or older, don’t just trash them. Coffee grounds are surprisingly useful. Check out the 16 ways you can use old coffee grounds in the article linked at the end of the next section.
How Do You Know if Ground Coffee Has Gone Bad?
You’ll know. Your nose knows how delicious fresh coffee grounds should smell. If you open a bag of ground coffee and it smells moldy or flat, then that’s how the brewed coffee will taste too. There’s no going back, so just recycle the grounds.
Coffee beans contain natural oils and, if not stored properly, the oils can go rancid. Again, trust your nose and recycle the grounds.
Moisture will cause coffee grounds to go stale and, more than beans and more than pods, grounds are susceptible to moisture. Already naturally porous, the bean grinding process creates a lot of surface area. Ground coffee will get moldy if the bag has gotten hot and condensation has formed inside the bag.
When ground coffee gets mildewy, your nose will smell it and the grounds will have turned from shiny, lustrous, deep brown to chalky, flat grey.
If you try brewing coffee from bad grounds, it may taste bitter or it may taste like cardboard. Either way, you might as well use the grounds in your garden, to tenderize some meat or to clean your fireplace.
Here are 16 surprising ways you can use old coffee grounds.
What Happens if You Drink Old Ground Coffee?
You won’t get sick if you drink a cuppa made from old grounds. But let’s face it – our brains and bodies adore coffee for the invigorating smell, for the strong, unique taste and for the jolt it gives us first thing in the morning.
Old ground coffee won’t give your brain any of those.
Can You Get Food Poisoning From Expired Ground Coffee?
No, ground coffee alone won’t give you food poisoning.
If you get food poisoning after your morning cuppa joe, check out the dairy creamer first. Check the ingredients in your ground coffee and see whether an add-on may be to blame. Another culprit may be the (contaminated) water you use to brew your cuppa.
Blame the coffee machine and give it a good clean, particularly the water reservoir and underneath all those silicone seals.
Final Words On Drinking Old Coffee Grinds
So that’s the long and short of it – you can drink out-of-date ground coffee but it simply won’t be very nice.
It will ultimately lose its flavor, aroma, and potency, and this will only get worse the older it gets.
So the best thing to do is just use the grounds before they expire – and enjoy that rich coffee taste we all love in the way it was intended. 🙂