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How Long Does Instant Coffee Last? The Interesting Answer!

instant coffee

Instant coffee might be quick and convenient, but its shelf life is what makes it shine. It can last quite a while, which is why it is such a great thing to have on hand. However, it’s one of those pantry items that seem to be forgotten easily, so knowing how old it is can be a concern. If you have some instant coffee in an unlabeled container, you might be wondering if it’s still safe to use.

Instant coffee has a crazy long shelf-life of up to 20 years, but for the best flavor, you’ll probably want to drink it within one to two years.

Let’s take a look at instant coffee and its shelf life:

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What is Instant Coffee?

Instant coffee is a type of coffee that dissolves directly in water, making it very simple and easy to make. All it takes is boiling water with around one teaspoon of instant coffee, and it mixes instantly. Instant coffee has come a long way since its inception, which was comparable to mud in a cup. While it is still not as complex as brewed coffee, there are a lot of instant coffee brands that have good flavor profiles. Instant coffee is a popular ingredient in baking as well, so it’s versatile enough to have in the pantry.

how to make instant coffee

Can Instant Coffee Go Bad?

Yes, instant coffee can go bad. The older it gets, the less flavorful and fresh tasting it will be. While instant has a much longer shelf life than regular ground coffee, it can still go bad and even develop mold if it’s not stored properly. If it’s a single-serve pouch, it can last a long time as long as it stays closed. Before using instant coffee that’s been in the back of the cupboard for quite some time, check for signs of mold or growth on top and along the sides of the container. 

How Long Does Instant Coffee Last?

Before getting into how long instant coffee lasts, it’s important to note that every brand is different. The best thing to do is to find the expiration date and check to see if your instant coffee is still good. Most companies have an expiration date of 6 months to 2 years, even though it can last much longer.

Technically speaking, instant coffee has a ridiculously long shelf life of around 20 years, even if it’s open. Most instant coffee brands have it set to 1 to 2 years, however. Instant coffee can last a long time, but it needs to be in an airtight container to last that long. If any moisture gets trapped inside, mold will start to form on the instant coffee grounds. It’s similar to honey in that honey itself doesn’t spoil, but moisture will cause it to ferment. 

how is instant coffee made
Image credit: Unsplash

My instant coffee has white stuff on it. Is that mold?

Yes, any presence of cottony, fluffy white stuff on top of your instant coffee is mold. This is most likely due to moisture getting trapped in the container, leading to mold growth. Do not try to scrape out the mold since it can be growing in the middle or bottom of the container. Throw away the coffee and find an airtight container for storage or leave it in the container you bought it in.

How to Store Instant Coffee for the Longest Shelf Life:

  • Store instant coffee in an airtight container. There are plenty of containers that can work, from mason jars to leftover plastic containers. As long as it prevents moisture from getting in and has a seal on top, it will work to store your instant coffee.
  • Keep it out of direct sunlight and keep it at room temperature, like the pantry or cabinet. The freezer and fridge are too cold and may change the flavor strength and freshness of the coffee if the container isn’t sealed all the way.
  • Check the instant coffee once in a while for any signs of mold growth, then reseal it and put it back in a dry, cool place. Checking for mold is important so you don’t accidentally ingest mold spores, which can make you sick.

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Instant coffee has a shockingly long shelf life, regardless of the expiration date that usually comes with it. Although instant coffee doesn’t necessarily go bad on its own, it can lose flavor and strength over the years. The most important thing is to store it properly, which will prevent moisture and mold from ruining your coffee. Instant coffee is great to have on hand, especially when you’re low on regular coffee. As long as it’s in a sealed container, your instant coffee can last years without an issue.


Featured Image: moritz320, Pixabay


Kate MacDonnell

Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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