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Does Coffee Go Bad?

A person pours coffee into a blue and white polka dot cup.
Chodimeafotime/Shutterstock.com

Say you’ve run out of your usual brand of coffee or are just in the mood for something different. You’ve got some leftover grounds in your pantry, but they’ve been there for a while. Are they still okay to brew?

The answer is a little more complicated than a yes or no, but those grounds in your pantry are still good to drink. In terms of coffee’s shelf life, grounds are always good to brew and drinking older coffee won’t make you sick. But it might not taste as good.

“It is never not safe to drink or consume,” said Makenzie Bryson Jackson, food scientist. “But the quality of the experience won’t be as great. It will be stale and potentially rancid as the oils in the coffee go off.”

You can tell if your coffee grounds have gone stale by their smell. The odor will be unpleasant and bland. To prevent this, Jackson recommends buying whole beans instead of ground coffee.

Whole beans can last up to three months, and you can just grind your coffee at the beginning of each week (grounds last roughly a week). So, what you really need to keep your coffee fresh is a coffee grinder.

“The ground beans have a greater surface area exposed so they will oxidize more rapidly and you’ll lose all of the delicious volatile compounds that give coffee its characteristic flavor,” Jackson said.

As for storage, she recommends keeping your beans in a dark, cool space in an airtight container, preferably one made of metal. Because light, heat, moisture, and oxygen can all seep into your coffee beans and affect their freshness, storing them properly is a must.

We don’t know about you, but all this coffee talk has put us in the mood to brew a cup.

[Via Well + Good]

Shea Simmons Shea Simmons
Shea Simmons is an Atlanta-based writer who has written about everything from whether Crisco is a good moisturizer to how to KonMari your space. Her work has appeared in Bustle, My First Apartment, and Make It Grateful. Read Full Bio »

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