Have you recently found a pack of instant coffee hidden in your kitchen cabinets that isn’t opened yet but is past its expiration date? And now you are confused about whether you should stick by the dates and throw it or think it is a facade of capitalism and use it!
The instant coffee packets come with a best-before date of 6 months to 2 years from the date of manufacturing. But technically speaking, instant coffee lasts way longer than that! If the packet remains unopened, it can last for around two decades!
But does that mean it will have the same taste or effect? Or, most importantly, will it be safe to drink? If not, then how to repurpose it? To get all the answers and more, keep on reading.
How Long Can You Store Instant Coffee?
Unopened packs of instant coffee can last upto 20 years! yes, you read it right, TWENTY YEARS! And in the case of opened packets, if stored properly, they also last pretty long. At least longer than what is written on the pack. Now I see someone regretting the decision to throw those expired instant coffee away!
But then why do brands put an expiry date so early? in most instant coffee packets, you will find a “best-before” date that is somewhere between six months to two years from the manufacturing date. But not many people know that manufacturers intentionally set this date quite a bit early.
It is done for most preserved food and beverages, and manufacturers do that to be completely sure that people consume the product long before it is actually stale and not safe to have.
Do you also think that the expiry date is a safety measure? if yes, then you are WRONG. As the name says, it is the “best before” date and is a quality measure. Even for quickly staling products like milk, the expiry date printed suggests the date till which you will enjoy the product at its best.
So the next time you see that the coffee is over its expiry date, don’t think of it as the poisonous apple from Snow white. It certainly won’t send you to eternal sleep!
When Does Instant Coffee Go Bad?
Now that you know that the date written on the coffee pouch actually tells you the date till which you can enjoy the best flavor, then what is the time limit till which it is safe to consume it?
Well, the answer will greatly vary with what brand you are using, how you are storing it and even the size of the pack. Single-serve sachets usually have a longer shelf life since they are kept sealed until they are to be used. On the other hand, if you buy family packs, opening the package or container every time you need to scoop coffee can decrease the shelf life.
The more the coffee granules get in contact with air, the faster they will go stale. But stale coffee is still drinkable and won’t cause any harm to health. Unless and until the coffee granules are attacked by fungus, they are safe to drink.
How To Spot Spoiled Instant Coffee?
It is pretty easy to detect whether your expired instant coffee has gone bad. Firstly, expired coffee will have an unpleasant taste
If you see white fluffy stuff sticking on the coffee granules, know that it is 100% bad. Those small cloudy particles are actually fungus and mold that has grown on the coffee. They might not be very deadly, but can certainly cause allergic reactions or food poisoning, to say the least.
Once you notice molding on your coffee, do not try to separate or process it with some DIY hacks. It is best you throw them away or reuse them in another way. In short, don’t try to drink instant coffee once you see the tiniest trace of mold in it!
Apart from this, it can be difficult to know if your old instant coffee has gone bad or not. In the case of coffee beans, you still get to do a smell test. Freshly roasted beans develop an odor when they are no longer good. You can easily use that smell to distinguish between fresh coffee beans and old ones.
Follow This To Prevent Molding & Give Your Instant Coffee The Longest Shelf Life
Here are some tips on storing instant coffee that can help you increase the longevity of your cup of joe.
1. Store Instant Coffee In An Airtight container
If you want to enjoy fresh instant coffee for a long time, you need to start storing coffee in airtight coffee jars. The more you keep your coffee beans in a low-oxygen environment, the longer they will stay fresh.
Instant coffee is usually freeze-dried, so it is devoid of any moisture content. Therefore, if it is properly stored, it can last in a good quite a while, even after the expiration date.
So whenever you open a fresh packet, pour it into a tightly sealed container so that the air’s moisture cannot tamper with the coffee.
2. Keep The Container Away From Direct Sunlight
Exposing the instant coffee powder to direct sunlight increases the chances of oxidation, and oxidation is one of the biggest reasons behind stale instant coffee.
This is a problem not only with instant coffee but also with coffee grounds and coffee beans. The longer you expose coffee to sunlight, the more coffee oils get released, leaving you with a stale instant coffee taste.
So if you want to increase the shelf life of your instant coffee, you must ditch the aesthetic-looking jars and get an instant coffee jar that is airtight as well as opaque. And store it in a dry and cool place.
3. Always Use A Dry Spoon To Scoop Out The Instant Coffee Powder
Never put your wet spoon in the instant coffee jar! NEVER!
Always remember moisture content is the best friend of fungus and molds. So by putting a wet spoon in your instant coffee jar, you are giving an invitation to them. So you are not only decreasing the shelf life but putting the last nail in the coffin!
I personally keep a dry spoon inside the coffee jar so that I don’t mess up.
4. Buy Single Serve Packets
Single-serve sticks are a great option to save your instant coffee from getting expired. They have an excellent shelf life, even better, since you don’t really open a pack unless it is going straight into hot water.
This is great for students or people in general who can not make all the arrangements just to have a fresh cup of coffee.
5. Don’t Open A Pack Unless You Are Going To Use It
So far, I have made it clear that the answer to “when does instant coffee go bad?” is when coffee granules come in contact with oxygen and moisture.
If you can successfully keep your instant coffee away from these two things, then your coffee will last longer than some people’s marriages.
So DO NOT open the pack unless you are going to finish it shortly!
Shelf life Difference Between Instant Coffee & Ground Coffee
When it comes to the race of shelf life, no other coffee can beat instant coffee. Yes, you heard it, even your favorite coffee beans. In fact, you will be shocked to find the difference in shelf life that they have.
While you can store instant coffee anywhere between 2 to 20 years, you can only store coffee beans for up to twelve months. This is already a bummer for many but wait for the part where I give you a long list of guidelines that you need to follow to maintain the freshness of the beans.
To keep the beans fresh and aromatic, you need to store them in an air-tight, opaque jar, away from direct sunlight in a cold place. If you don’t do that, the coffee beans can lose their freshness within weeks, and you will be left with tasteless bitter coffee.
In case you are planning to ground them before storing them, that might help a little and extend the period to a few months. But the conditions remain the same.
Don’t Throw Away Your Expired Instant Coffee- Instead, Do This
Honestly, you can drink expired instant coffee, but in case it is all oldy-moldy, then you better not pull a stunt with it. Instead of drinking that tainted instant coffee, here’s what you can do with it.
- Make a body scrub: Coffee is a great physical exfoliant. So rather than buying expensive body scrubs, mix a few spoons of coffee with honey, and you will have the best homemade body scrub. But please avoid it if you have sensitive skin or any serious skin condition.
- Kitchen cleaner: If the coffee is quite moldy, you shouldn’t put it on your skin, either. Instead, you can mix it with little water, make a thick paste, and use it as a gentle scrub to clean your kitchen countertops.
- Use as fertilizer: If you are a proud plant parent, you can use coffee as fertilizer. The ideal ratio is to put a tablespoon of coffee in one gallon of water. Let the mixture sit for a few nights and then strain the water and use it as gentle fertilizer.
- Is instant coffee real coffee?
Ans: Yes, instant coffee is made from real coffee bean extracts. Hence it is 100% real coffee.
- How much caffeine is there in instant coffee?
Ans: There are around 26 mg of caffeine per 100 gms of instant coffee.
- Is instant coffee good for weight loss?
Ans: Both instant and ground coffee can help in increasing energy levels and promote metabolism. But you need to consume it without adding extra calories like milk, creamer, sugar, or syrups.