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Coffee & Expiration Date: What you should know


Everything you would like to know about the freshness and expiration of coffee! 

One issue that concerns many coffee lovers is undoubtedly the expiration date of the coffee - and whether the freshness affects our cup. We try to put things in perspective, so that we always enjoy good coffee - the coffee we deserve - without having any doubt about its quality, freshness, aroma and taste.


What does the expiration date we see on the coffee package mean?

Coffee is a food, but also a natural product, and of course, producers are obliged to indicate on the packaging, a clear expiration date. Many companies report a date in the DD / MM / YY format, while others simply report the expiration month in the MM / YY format.

The expiration date of the coffee starts to count from the moment of its packaging, which is usually a few days after the roasting date. Many coffee companies set the expiration date at one year from the date of packaging, while others at two years. In any case, the vast majority of cases are packaged under special conditions, in protective packaging, which retains the aromas and taste for a long time.

Of course, coffee storage conditions also play a big role in this, and for this reason it is important that we get our coffee from traders we trust and who know that they store their coffee in compliance with all the rules. Places with high humidity, high temperatures or intense sunshine (such as a shop window) are given the aggravation of maintaining the freshness of coffee.

When does coffee countdown really start?

As many imagine, the countdown to coffee begins as soon as we open the package. The contact of the coffee with the atmospheric air and oxygen begins to affect the freshness, which was essentially unchanged, most of the time, until that moment. It is good to keep in mind that the expiration date on the coffee package is for sealed coffee - once we open our package, that date is clearly closer to us.

Of course, proper storage of coffee plays a key role here, which can significantly extend its freshness. We can choose special coffee storage containers (many of which operate in a vacuum), but also strictly follow the rules of proper storage (airtight closure, storage away from moisture, odors and high temperature) and of course avoid refrigerated storage, which can only damage the coffee. It is also a given that coffee beans are more durable than ground coffee, so it is good to grind only as much coffee as they want to use each time, while in case we use ground coffee, it is better not to stock large quantities and especially not we open many packages at the same time.

With proper storage conditions, coffee beans can be left almost unchanged for about six months, ground coffee for about a quarter and instant coffee significantly longer (many report 2-3 years).


Does coffee go stale?

Coffee is a natural product, and it makes sense for time to have an effect on its properties, especially on taste and aroma. Hard-core espresso fans also claim that the freshness of coffee is easily felt in the cup, while freshness is certainly one of the factors that influence the creation of the cream in espresso.

Coffee that comes from airtight packaging and is stored properly, practically does not show the slightest deterioration, even near its expiration date, while the same does not happen with coffee that has been left in open packaging for too long. In the latter case, it is very likely that the aromas and flavors are weak, the coffee is weak and the taste is flat. It is still safe to eat, but it is definitely not as enjoyable.

However, if our coffee has a strange odor reminiscent of mold or mildew, has surface damage or moisture, it means that it has really started to spoil and it would be good to throw it away, without hesitation. This can usually be caused by poor storage conditions or defective packaging that has spoiled the coffee.

What can we do with coffee that has gone"stale"?

In case we have coffee that is "outdated" but has not deteriorated, we do not need to throw it away! Sure, it may be weaker in taste, but it remains safe to eat and we can find ways to use it without throwing it away.

Initially, there are extracts that tend to give satisfactory results, even with coffees that are not in the pick of their freshness, such as cold extraction. Cold Brew, due to the prolonged extraction time and the low water temperature, tends to give a delicious result even with a little "stale" coffee.

Also, the beans from the bag that has been left open for a long time can be used in confectionery recipes that require coffee. As the detailed aromatic palette and delicate aromas are not what we want when preparing a tiramisu, we can use our old coffee in these preparations.

Caution: the fact that the aroma or taste of coffee fades, does not mean that its caffeine is lost. If we use a double or triple dose of "stale" coffee for more aroma, we will only be able to catch our stomach or sleep late at night.

With some simple tips that have to do with buying and storing coffee, we can be sure that our espresso will always be enjoyable and delicious, without any stress.