What Happens When You Drink Expired Coffee?

If you often kickstart your day with coffee, especially garlic coffee, probably, you have kept enough stock to take you through days or even months. A coffee packet may expire without your knowledge and realize about it when brewing. So, will anything happen if you consume expired coffee?

If the coffee beans are not spoiled, moldy, or moist, there will be no harm if you consume expired coffee. What you will notice is a change in taste. However, if the coffee has spoiled additives or molds, you may get sick after consuming it.

The Shelf Life Of Coffee

How long your coffee stays fresh depends on the coffee type, quality, form, and storage method. Most often, the dates on coffee bags are an estimated duration.

An unopened bag of whole coffee beans tends to retain its flavor and freshness for the longest time. With proper storage, it can go up to 6-9 months. Nonetheless, if you open the bag, it can only last for a maximum of 6 months. After that, you may start to notice a change in taste in your coffee drink.

So, to be on the safer side, don’t grind coffee beans after buying them. Wait until you are ready to brew, then only crush the amount you plan to use. It helps preserve their flavor and taste. It might be inconvenient in a way, but worth your money and time.

Ground coffee lasts for a shorter time than whole coffee beans. The shelf life for unopened coffee grounds is five months. After opening, they can stay for 1-2 months.

 Even so, there will be a slight degradation in freshness and taste. With that, it would be best if you utilize the coffee grounds within 2-3 weeks. But again, storing the coffee grounds in the freezer extends their lifespan to 2 years. Though, it will alter their taste and nutritional value.

Instant coffee can stay up to 2 years after the expiry date. However, you have to store it in a cool area away from humidity and direct sunlight.

K-cups have a shelf life too. I know those with Keurig brewers may need to know about the expiry of their coffee pods.

Here is the thing, coffee pods have a tight seal and a foil lid. Thus, the coffee grounds inside stay safe and for long. You can check the expiry date on the k-cup box. But I advise you use the k-cups 5-8 months after buying.

Is Expired Coffee Bad?

As long as your coffee beans are not spoiled or moldy, nothing will happen to you when you drink the coffee.

Even so, the coffee may not taste the same as your regular fresh cup. The expired coffee may have a bitter taste. That’s because a majority of its flavors and aroma start to reduce after the expiration date. And who wants to take a dull and stale coffee anyway?

Now, if your coffee is moldy, wet, or has spoiled add-ins, you may become sick after drinking. Molded coffee can trigger respiratory problems, especially in individuals with breathing allergies.

Besides, expired and spoiled coffee can affect your digestive system. You may experience bloating, stomach pains, vomiting, and even diarrhea.

Factors That Affect The Shelf Life Of Your Coffee

The coffee beans grind – Crushing the coffee beans increases the coffee’s surface area. Therefore, a lot of flavors, aromas, and even CO2 escape.

That’s why it is vital to grind coffee beans at the time you need to use them. Doing that preserves the flavors and aromas and also increases the shelf life of the coffee.

Oxidation – Exposing coffee beans to oxygen causes a reaction with flavor and aroma forming composites. As a result, the flavors leak out of the beans. Furthermore, the oxidation reaction leads to the formation of new compounds. The new compounds lower the coffee beans’ freshness.

Temperature –Coffee beans’ storage temperature dictates the reaction between your coffee beans and surrounding elements like oxygen. If the storage temperatures are high, it will increase degassing and oxidation processes.

Moisture –The roasting of coffee beans makes them highly hygroscopic. That’s because they lose water during the process. Therefore, if you store the roasted beans in a moist place, they attract oxygen molecules that affect their freshness.

Light – When you expose coffee beans to direct sunlight, it destroys the coffee oils. Thus, making the beans dry. Moreover, the UV light also raises temperatures, which in turn speeds up oxidation and degassing.

Storage method – Proper coffee beans storage reduces the chemical reactions rate and physical weakening of your coffee. But as time goes by, it reaches a point where the coffee beans can no longer retain their freshness and aroma no matter what you do. With that, you need to let go.

How To Tell If Your Coffee Is Stale

Look! Three ways can help you determine rancid coffee grounds and beans:

  • You can observe their physical features like dryness, color, and smell.
  • Be keen on the brewing process to note any changes.
  • Check the aroma and taste of your brewed coffee.

In general appearance, stale coffee beans have a dry appearance with no oils. They may also have molds and a musty smell if exposed to moisture.

Besides, you can easily detect stale coffee when using a pour-over brewer than a drip coffee maker. The coffee will extract fast with less bloom. Also, the coffee aroma and flavor will be missing.

With the espresso machine, the coffee crema will be missing. And if there is any present, it will be weak. Also, stale coffee beans create a woody flavor in your espresso.

The Best Way To Store Your Coffee Beans 

Before you store your coffee beans, confirm first if they are stale or not. On top of that, ensure that your storage area is free from direct sunlight, air, heat, and moisture.

For an unopened coffee beans container or bag, store it in the freezer or pantry. But before freezing, make sure you are using a coffee beans bag that is water-resistant.

When you open the packaging, expel air from the bag, reseal it, and put the bad in your pantry.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


If you are like me, perhaps you feel guilty throwing away an entire packet of expired coffee. Luckily, you can still brew with it, even though you won’t get full aromas and flavors of fresh coffee. But if it has molded, discard it or use it for other purposes like fertilizing your garden.