When Does Coffee Go Bad?

Vanessa Feiwell • December 15, 2020 • 3 min read

Coffee Grounds On Table

How Do I Know if My Coffee Beans Are Still Good?

While this isn’t an issue in my household as coffee beans seem to magically vanish as soon as they come in the door, it’s a question I get all the time. How do I know if the coffee beans sitting in my cupboard are still good? It’s not a simple answer, but I’ll give you the tools to decide if it’s time to toss your old coffee or keep on brewing.

Coffee Does Not Last Forever

Let’s set the stage, it doesn’t matter if you buy your coffee from the best roaster in town or a big box grocer, all coffee will eventually go off. Since coffee is made up of several different compounds, it is prone to degradation over time as these compounds begin to break down especially in the presence of oxygen.

How to Tell When Coffee Has Gone Bad

I think it’s important to know that coffee can go years (if stored in a correct environment) without becoming harmful to drink. In my opinion, while it won’t hurt you, coffee should be discarded as soon as it becomes stale. It’s at this point, after oxidation occurs, that you will notice a distinct absence of flavor and, more specifically, a lack of complexity. While you can also tell a coffee is stale by simply smelling it, you won’t be able to get the full effect of the staleness until you brew a cup. Again, you can still serve old stale coffee (looking at you, gas stations), but as far as I’m concerned, that doesn’t make it right.

If you’re interested in ways you can use your old coffee grounds instead of tossing them in the trash, click here.

Should I Follow the Expiration Date?

While you could buy a bag of coffee from the store with an expiration date that is two years off, just know that doesn’t ensure your coffee will still be good at that point. As soon as you open that bag and the coffee is exposed to oxygen, it will immediately start to degrade, and you will have a short window to properly enjoy it. Long story short, use expiration dates directionally, but at the end of the day, nothing will replace your own sensory skills to decide if a coffee is worth drinking.

Coffee Grounds

3 Tips to Maximize Coffee Shelf Life

  1. Buy Whole Bean, Not Ground Coffee

The second you start to break down coffee, the more surface area is exposed to air, and the more rapidly it degrades. If possible, avoid pre-ground coffee and instead grind whole beans right before using. If you’re a traditional pot coffee drinker who still uses pre-ground coffee, it’s time to step up your game and treat yourself to a home coffee grinder.

  1. Proper Storage

I’ll keep this simple - air, moisture, heat, and light can all negatively impact your coffee. If you want to protect the integrity of your precious beans, store them in a cool, dark, dry place inside an airtight container and you’ll be good!

  1. Buy Coffee That Is Packed For Freshness

If you’re buying from a local coffee shop, check the roast date and find one that is less than a week old so you still have a few weeks to enjoy it at peak freshness. If you’re at the grocery store, try to purchase a coffee that is nitrogen flushed. This process virtually eliminates all oxygen inside the bag and keeps it fresh and stable until the bag is opened.

Also, always be sure that any packaged coffee you buy has a valve on it. This valve allows CO2 to escape (part of the degassing process) while not allowing oxygen in, pretty cool!

Bruvi’s® Fight Against Stale Coffee

At Bruvi, we take every step to ensure you will never have stale coffee from our coffee brewer. We use state of the art technology in our B-Pods® that allows us to provide the same level of coffee freshness you would expect at a specialty coffee shop in the convenience of a shelf stable pod. We do this by packing our coffee within 24 hours of grinding and hermetically sealing our pods to preserve freshness. Throughout the entire pod packaging process, our coffee is free from any notable exposure to air and remains that way until the very moment you start brewing. This means with Bruvi, you’re making the freshest cup of gourmet coffee on the block, and yes, you better believe all those amazing flavor notes will be there!

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