Does coffee have an expiration date?
We drink a cup of joe every single day, yet we often find it difficult to answer a simple question: what is an expiration date of coffee? What makes this question hard to answer is the fact that java simply doesn’t go bad as milk does. Instead, it gradually loses its qualities and turns from a delicious productivity-enhancer into a foul-smelling cup of black liquid.
As such, some may find a several hours old and two times reheated a cup of instant java perfectly fine, while others would spit it out as soon as it hits the tips of their tongues. Still, we can establish some basic guidelines for freshness that should alight with most people’s taste.
Just like spices, coffee beans degrade faster depending on the surface area. This makes whole beans the preferred method for long-term storage. Properly packed beans sealed in an airtight bag with a degassing valve should stay fresh for at least six months. Beans stored in a glass jar with an only somewhat airtight lid will stay fresh for not much longer than two weeks.
Once you ground your beans, you expose considerably more surface area to air, accelerating the taste-destroying process of oxidization and oil evaporation. Strictly speaking, ground coffee will start losing taste immediately after grinding. Give it just a few hours, and most of the original taste will be long gone. You can dramatically slow down this process by storing your grounds inside a freezer.
Because of how it’s made, instant coffee actually lasts a very long time. The manufacturer squeezes out every last drop of liquid through chemical sublimation in a process known as freeze-drying. What’s left behind is a stable powder that lasts for months—if not years—yet it can be quickly made drinkable just by pouring hot (not boiling) water over it.
The moment you prepare yourself a cup of joe, it starts to lose its taste. Give it around 5 hours, and there won’t be too much taste left in the cup. You can further accelerate this by letting the joe cool down and then reheating it again, which is why a thermos is a better choice for storing your brewed java. If you’ve still ended up with more than you’d wanted, consider pouring it into a blender along with your favorite protein shake and milk. You will end up with a delicious and healthy milkshake.