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Does Instant Coffee Go Bad?

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Most of the things we consume, including instant coffee, are organic, and everything organic can go bad.

This is why packaged food items typically come with shelf-life and storage guides. Now, you may have never seen instant coffee go bad, so you are wondering if it is possible.

Does instant coffee go bad?

Yes, it does. But it is unlikely that instant coffee will go bad before the content of the container is exhausted.

When properly stored and left unbrewed, instant coffee has a shelf-life of 2 to 20 years.

This period can be even longer when the product is stored in a freezer. Unlike those that are unbrewed, brewed instant coffee can go bad within hours.

Generally, after a day, coffee that has been dissolved should be consumed. If not, it should be stored or discarded.

Some people believe instant coffee does not expire as long as it remains sealed. Well, in this article, we explain why instant coffee goes bad and explore other related details.

girl holding cup of coffee

Does Instant Coffee Expire or Go Bad?

There are 3 main factors responsible for spoilage in coffee (and many other food items). These factors are air, light, and water/moisture.

When instant coffee is not exposed to any of the above, it can remain fit for consumption for as long as 2 decades.

The shelf-life for properly stored instant coffee ranges from 2 to 20 years. Impressively, this shelf-life can be even longer than 20 years when the coffee is stored in the freezer.

While instant coffee can remain fit for consumption for up to 2 decades, one thing that will not remain the same is the flavor. Over time, you will notice that the coffee would become bland when you consume it.

Unlike the unbrewed ones, when instant coffee has been brewed, it will not last too long. Typically, within 24 hours, instant coffee that is ready to drink will become unfit for drinking.

Although, if you refrigerate it, it can remain good for up to 2 weeks. Also, if you store it in a freezer, it should last for longer, months perhaps.

confused with coffee smell

How to Tell if Your Instant Coffee Is Bad

It is not hard to detect when your instant coffee has gone bad. The signs are pretty similar to those you will see in other types of coffee.

It might be hard to tell the state of your instant coffee by just checking its color. Coffee usually maintains its color as it ages.

Although in a few cases, the coffee will become lighter as it goes bad.

Instant coffee will not maintain its flavor as it ages. You will find that with time, it will lose its aroma.

So, one of the easiest ways to spot a bad coffee is blandness. Or you may sense a scent similar to that of an ashtray.

Of course, as instant coffee loses its aroma, the taste would follow suit.

So, another sign you would notice in bad coffee is the change in taste. You may notice that the coffee has become very sour with some bitterness.

Usually, when instant coffee has lost its flavor (taste and aroma), it will not harm you when you consume it.

However, if you notice any mold-like growth on your coffee (whether brewed or unbrewed), you should avoid it.

cup of coffee

What Is the Shelf Life of Instant Coffee (How Long Does It Last)?

As we have already revealed, the shelf-life of instant coffee depends on its storage conditions. It also depends on whether it has been brewed or not.

When stored in a pantry, instant coffee can remain good for at least 2 years and as long as 20 years.

When stored in a freezer, instant coffee can remain wholesome for a very long time. Even longer than the upper limit of 20 years for pantry storage.

The ability of instant coffee to remain good for so long is driven by the fact that it was prepared by freeze-drying.

The above shelf-lives apply when the instant coffee has not been brewed. When brewed, instant coffee has a really short shelf-life.

In 24 hours, it most likely will go bad unless you refrigerate it. If you do refrigerate brewed instant coffee, you should consume it within 2 weeks.

You can also store your brewed instant coffee in a freezer. When you choose this storage method, your coffee can last up to 2 months.

Can Expired Instant Coffee Make You Sick?

In a case where the only sign of expiration you notice in your instant coffee is blandness or a change in taste and smell, it most likely would not make you sick.

However, if you notice that the coffee has gone moldy, you could get sick if you consume it.

coffee and beans

What Can You Do With Old Instant Coffee (That You Don’t Want to Drink)?

So, if you have some old instant coffee that you do not want to drink or dispose of, here are a few things you can do with it:

Make Marinade Out of It

If you would not drink your old instant coffee, you can use it as a marinade. Add some other ingredients to the coffee, then place your meat, chicken, turkey, or steak in it to marinate.

You can also use your old instant coffee in dry rubs. As marinade or in dry rubs, old instant coffee can add some dimension to the overall flavor of your meat.

Provide Nutrients to Your Plants

Coffee contains some nutrients that are beneficial to plants.

For one, coffee contains significant levels of nitrogen that can be good for your plants. It also contains some beneficial antioxidants.

So, instead of throwing that old instant coffee out, water the soil holding your plant with it.

Use It as a Deodorizer

One interesting feature of coffee is its ability to absorb odors.

This ability allows you to turn your old instant coffee into a deodorant. All you need to do is place some granules in places like your fridge where they can get the bad smells out.

woman spraying hair

Use It as Treatment for Your Hair

Instant coffee can improve the luster of your hair and stimulate growth. All you need to do is brew the amount of coffee you need, then allow it to cool down.

When cool, pour the coffee into your hair and massage it onto your scalp for a few minutes. Let it stay for 10-20 minutes before you wash it off.

Use It to Clear Your Drain

You can also clean or clear your drain with old instant coffee granules.

Just pour some of the granules into the drain, then run the tap for a few minutes. The drain should be clearer.

Alternatively, you could pour some already-brewed instant coffee into the drain directly.


Instant coffee can go bad, but instances of this type of coffee going bad is extremely rare. In many cases, instant coffee will remain fit for consumption for many years, as long as it is stored properly, away from light, water, and air.

When brewed, instant coffee does not last for years. It will go bad in a day or in around 2 months, depending on where you store it.