Instant Coffee is one of those convenient and uncomplicated products that you don’t think twice about. Although it does get some bad rep from some coffee drinks, millions of people still love it.
We all have that one jar of instant coffee at the back of our cabinets. Or maybe you went on a long trip and wondering if that opened jar of coffee is still drinkable? What ever reason got you wondering if instant coffee expires or go bad… we got your answer. But before we understand what the instant coffee shelf life is, let’s understand what it is.
What Is Instant Coffee and How It’s Made
We all know that instant coffee is a type of coffee that melts into hot boiling water immediately. But what makes it so? Unlike your regular ground coffee that needs to be filtered?
Instant Coffee is actually made from dried coffee concentrate. Imagine a large batch of concentrated coffee brew, it goes through a special process of freeze-drying to turn it into this form of crystalized coffee. It is then vacuum sealed and packed into glass jars that keeps it fresh until you buy it.
So what you’re actually adding to your cup is a form of ready-made coffee, and you’re bringing it back to life by adding hot water to it. It is quick, fairly cheap and delicious.
Does Instant Coffee Go Bad? Does It Expire?
Like any other consumable product in life, instant coffee has a shelf life and an expiry date. What makes it special though is that it has a really long shelf life in comparison to coffee beans, which go stale quite quickly.
Most companies will have an expiry date of a year or two on their instant coffee. Truth is, instant coffee lasts way way longer. It can be still safe to consume even 10 years after it has been opened, provided it was stored in a cool and dry place…
But, just because it is safe to consume, it does not mean it will taste good. Like you’d imagine, it will most likely lose aroma and flavor and become pretty stale.
And if you look closely on your jar of instant coffee, on some brands, there’s really no ‘Expiration’ date on the it. There’s only a Best Before date. Which only proves the fact that it doesn’t really expire. Others, will have an expiry date of 2 years.
How To Store Instant Coffee For The Best Shelf Life
Just like any other type of coffee, you’ll want to:
- Keep it away from moisture, which is the basis of all things moldy.
- Keep it away from direct light, which effects aroma and flavor. Store it in a dry dark cabinet.
- If the jar has been opened, it would be best to transfer the coffee into an airtight container.
When you open a jar of Instant coffee, and the coffee is exposed to air, oxidation starts to happen. This starts effecting the aroma and flavor of your coffee immediately (this happens to ground coffee, too), but it’s a slow process until the flavor is completely gone.
If you’re planning on being a way for a long time, or if you don’t consume a lot of coffee, I would recommend getting single packets of instant coffee instead of a jar. This way, you’re not exposing any coffee to air, and it remains sealed in its package until you are ready to use it. They’re available from most brands that sell instant coffee.
All of these tips go for instant coffee or any of its derivatives such as instant cappuccino/latte mixes and so on.
What If There’s White Coat or Fuzz on my Instant Coffee?
That would be mold, for sure. It’s time to dispose of it and it’s no longer drinkable (obviously). If your coffee jar has been exposed to any type of moisture (humid weather, wet spoon… ) it would make a natural habitat for mold growth.
What Happens If I Drink Expired Instant Coffee?
Mostly likely, nothing. You’ll be just fine! The coffee might taste bad, especially if it’s been opened a while back, but it won’t hurt it. Just make sure it is mold-free and clean.