Reader’s Questions: Expiration Date Way Over! Can we still drink old coffee beans?

By | November 30, 2015

At PurelyCoffeeBeans, I’ve answered lots of questions over the years. You’ll find the questions and their answers scattered throughout the site!

I’m always open to more questions, if you’re frustrated or curious, why don’t you drop me a line! This week we welcome … Andrew who’s asking about old coffee beans!


Expiration Date Way Over! Can we still drink old coffee beans?

by Andrew Tan from Taguig City in the Philippines

Good Day

We have in our office a bag of Kirkland coffee beans, their expiry date is November 2009 and May 2010. Are they still safe to brew or drink? If not, what can we do with these beans?

Thank You

arabica-coffee-beans Thank you, Andrew for asking this question. We have all had bags of coffee beans lying around, I’ve still got a bag of Dunkin Donuts Decaff (it wasn’t brilliant coffee to start with) on the shelf, and half a can of unknown beans stuffed inside a can. Hard to know what to do with them.

How long has it bean?

The date of roasting & packaging determines the expiry date, you’ll see this clearly printed or stamped on the bag or can. Unless the package is actually opened, it is likely the beans will still be in reasonable condition. Only exposure to air & moisture will cause deterioration in the quality of the coffee. Extreme moisture may offer the opportunity for mold to grow as well.

Flavor that matters

The real issue though is flavor. Will they retain any of their flavor? If the package has been opened for any length of time, I’m afraid that if you use them to brew coffee, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Exposure to air tends to cause the delicate flavors from the roasting to dissipate. So when you open a bag of coffee, it’s always a good idea to store the beans well, away from sunlight, air & moisture. It’s also best to use them up within 7-14 days.

Still Useful After All Those Days

Old coffee beans can still be used, but perhaps not for consumption. You can grind them up, and use them as air freshener. The coffee grounds will absorb bad smells from the kitchen or refrigerator or even your shoeshelf. If you have a burr grinder which you haven’t used for a while, grinding these beans can help clean out the oils from previous beans that may have gone a tad rancid.

Decorate, Prettify, Talk About

Lastly, they’re quite useful for decoration. I’d suggest putting them in a bowl to add a little decorative impact to your kitchen! People are always intrigued by actual coffee beans… we’re so used to seeing instant coffee & ground coffee! They can become a talking point in your kitchen. So don’t worry if you’ve got some old or cheap beans lying about. Even coffee grounds can be reused.

If you’re interested in more esoteric uses, then take a look at the next couple of articles! Let’s hear what results you have with old coffee. I hope you don’t just chuck it out!

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