What if Coffee Is Expired?

You’ve probably experienced that uneasy feeling in your stomach when taking a sip of coffee and dismissed it. Nobody would sell expired coffee, would they? However, what if that were true? What if coffee is expired? Or what if it’s close to the expiration date?

What if Coffee Is Expired?

When coffee is expired, it begins to lose its flavor and aroma, and the color of the coffee has changed from black to brown. Some people describe stale coffee as having an “old sock” smell or flavor; others say that stale coffee tastes bitter or like cardboard.

As this happens, the caffeine in your coffee will begin to break down into tannins and other chemicals you do not want in your body.

A dark cup of coffee in a white cup and saucer on a brown wooden table with coffee beans spilled on it

How Do You Tell if Coffee Has Expired?

Generally, coffee can be consumed 6 months after its expiration date. However, this assumes that the coffee has not already turned stale. You can use a number of different methods to determine whether your coffee is still safe to drink or not, including smell, taste, and sight.


The best way to tell if your coffee has gone bad is by smell. Coffee often has a distinctive smell that is quite delightful and best characterized as tasting caramel-like.

If it smells bad, it probably is bad. Coffee beans contain oils that are released when roasted and ground up. The oils can go rancid over time. If your coffee smells like oil or burnt popcorn, chances are good that it’s past its prime!


If you find that your coffee has gone stale, it will taste bitter and have a sour aftertaste. If you’re drinking fresh coffee, it should taste mildly sweet with no hint of sourness.

Mold on Top of the Grounds or in the Container

If you see any mold growth on top of your grounds or inside of your jar or bag, there’s been some moisture present at some point along the way—likely during transport or storage—which allowed these spores to grow.

You may also see black spots on the beans themselves; this is not mold. It is an effect of aging beans called “blooming.”

How Can You Extend the Expiration Date of Your Coffee?

Coffee is a perishable food, and it can go bad. If you don’t use it fast enough, you can extend its shelf life by storing it correctly and doing certain things to ensure that your coffee retains its flavor as long as possible.


Freezer storage is a great way to prolong freshness for up to 4 months, though it’s not without its risks. If you freeze coffee, the beans or grounds mustn’t get wet during the freezing process. When beans become wet, they can absorb moisture from the air, making them go stale more quickly.

To prevent this from happening:

  • Store your beans in an airtight container or bag before putting them in the freezer.
  • Remove as much air as possible and seal the container tightly with a piece of tape or a sticker.
  • You can also use a vacuum sealer to keep the beans fresh for longer.

Keep Away From Heat and Light

Coffee beans can be damaged by heat and light. This includes sunlight through windows, too! So it’s best to store them in an airtight container in a dark place. Storing your coffee at room temperature is fine if there’s no other option available to you.

A cup of coffee in a white mug sitting on a light wooden table with the sun shining on it

Store Whole Beans Individually

The fresher your coffee is, the better it tastes. Whole beans stay fresher longer than ground coffee because there’s less surface area for oxygen to reach them.

Grind When Brewing

Ground coffee will begin to lose flavor immediately after grinding. To get the most out of your coffee, grind just before brewing. If you need more than one cup at a time, grind up enough for only one or two cups and store the remaining grinds in an airtight container in the freezer or refrigerator until ready to use again.

Related Questions

Is It Safe to Drink Expired Coffee?

It is safe to drink expired coffee. Coffee doesn’t go wrong in the same way that many other foods do. However, the flavor of your coffee might change over time, and it can become bitter and stale.

How to Revive Expired Coffee?

You can revive old coffee by using cinnamon. A good pinch of cinnamon can bring new life to old coffee. You should use fresh cinnamon, though, because ground cinnamon won’t work either. The vanilla extract works just like cinnamon; it’s another great way to turn stale coffee into something new and exciting.


Coffee will not hurt you after its expiration date, though the taste may be slightly diminished. To extend the shelf life of coffee, store it in the freezer or a dark, cool place. You can also buy whole beans and grind them yourself as needed.