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Can Instant Coffee Go Off? The Facts Explained.

If you’re not a big coffee drinker the chances are you’ve had a tin of coffee sitting in your pantry for sometimes now, so you’re probably wonder whether instant coffee can go off?

Unlike products diary, meat and fresh product where they have an expiry date, tinned coffee has a best before date. The date provide is about quality and not safety. It’ll be safe to drink the coffee but the flavour and texture might not be as good.

With that being said you should check that the instant coffee still looks like coffee, for example, is it stuck together and formed together? Kind of like a coffee rock then it’s not really drinkable. Chances are water has entered the coffee and could make it could form bacteria and mould.

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So when you open the tin or bag does it still have that rich coffee smell you’re anticipating? Does it look like coffee? If yes to both, then it probably like instant coffee you are used too.

How Long Can You Keep Instant Coffee?

Theoretically, instant coffee (freeze dried) can last between 2 to 20 years and apparently indefinitely in the freezer. Looking at my instant coffee at home that I bought in 2018 the best before date is set for 2020.

How to Store Instant Coffee

what in date instant coffee looks like

The best way to ensure that your instant coffee last longer than it’s best before date is storing it optimal conditions. Unlike coffee beans or ground coffee beans, instant coffee doesn’t lose the flavour of the coffee such as the essential oils. Instant coffee keeps better due to the manufacturing process of dehydrating coffee into granules or powder form.

Keeping coffee at it’s best is as simple as storing it in an airtight container in a cool, dark place and the kitchen pantry is perfect. The benefit of a pantry is that the coffee is away from direct light and heat and saving the coffee from deteriorating and losing freshness.

It’s consider bad practice to storing it in the fridge or freezer as it defeats the purpose of having instant coffee. However, if you live in a humid place it may be the best way to store coffee. The introduction of moisture from the humidity can make your coffee go hard or allow mould to grow.  Storing coffee in the fridge can aromas and moisture from other stored foods can be absorbed and affect the flavour. As long as it’s in an air tight container this can be avoided.

What Happens If You Drink Expired Coffee?

As long as the coffee is not mouldy, stuck together and generally looks ok the coffee will be fine to drink. You will find that the coffee smells flat, it’ll taste flat and slightly take away the smell that adds to the flavour profile of drinking coffee.

Not a huge problem if you’re not into coffee.

What To Do With Expired Instant Coffee

You’ve figured out that your coffee is no longer acceptable to drink, what do you do with it other than through it out? Here are some tips I’ve come up with on using expired coffee.

Staining Paper

I once created a beautiful birthday card for my sister by staining white paper to give the antique feel. All I did was simply mix the coffee with some water and brush the paper with the coffee/water combination. Let the paper dry for a few hours before using. Depending on the level of stain you wish to have adjust the coffee mixture.

Staining Fabric With Coffee

Staining fabric with coffee is a natural way to dye fabrics like cotton or linen. It will provide a light to medium brownish hue to light-coloured fabrics.

Synthetic fibers will not absorb the dye very well and not recommended for this technique.

To ensure that you get the colour you are expecting try a test swatch first of the fabric you wish to use. This will ensure that you get the effect of the dye you wish without ruining all your fabric.

Three methods you could consider using are:

  • Coffee Dye Bath
  • Tie-Dyeing with Coffee
  • A Coffee Rub

To achieve the dye all you need to do is brew coffee the coffee to the darkness you wish the dye or stain to be.


You can use the out of date instant coffee to bake with as long as it’s safe. Some baked good to consider are mocha brownies, mocha frosting, coffee cake, coffee frosting and chocolate pudding to name a few.

Make a Soap with Instant Coffee

Making soap with coffee, scrubs or beauty products with your leftover coffee is another way to use it up. Just like dye it, the amount of coffee you use will affect the darkness of the soap and the scent you get. Depending on your personal preference brew the coffee to the scent and darkness you would like to see in your some.

It’s recommended on Soap Queen that you use distilled water for the process as it will help with the discoloration. To read more about how to make coffee soap here is a recipe.

Make a Scrub with Instant Coffee

Kat with a coffee scrub on her face

As a coffee scrub user I really love this option for using up coffee. There are so many recipes on the internet so it’s just about finding what works with your skin type.

The general ingredients of a scrub are:

  • Instant Coffee
  • Oil – something like olive oil and coconut oil
  • Sugar

Some recipe ideas; Karissa’s Vegan Kitchen or Little’s.

Simply mix all the above ingredients together in a bowl until everything is well combined.

Apply to your skin and then using a circular motion to get the effect of the scrub. Depending on how long you have left the scrub on for 5 to 15 minutes before washing off.

There you have it away to get radiant and soft skin.

Use Coffee as a Hair Dye

As a natural way to dye your hair you could use instant coffee paste. If you have light brown hair then using coffee dye makes it a little darker.

What have you used your left over coffee for?Let us know in the comments below!

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