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’s 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:
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’s 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.
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, regardless of the fact that 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.
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:
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.
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