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Can Your Instant Coffee Go Bad

Can Your Instant Coffee Go Bad

If you love instant coffee, you might wonder if it can expire and go bad.

To answer this, we first have to look at what goes into the production of instant coffee.

How is instant coffee made?

Instant coffee usually starts out as regular coffee before it undergoes a freeze-drying process. This is what makes it a powder that becomes coffee again when you add hot water to it.

Now that we know a bit more about instant coffee, let’s look at the question of whether or not it expires. “But it has an expiry date!” you might say. Well, there’s something important you need to know about that. 

Does The Expiry Date On Instant Coffee (Actually) Matter?

Does The Expiry Date On Instant Coffee (Actually) Matter?

Got some instant coffee tins in the kitchen cupboard in case you run out of your first coffee choice? Or do you perhaps love to keep some instant coffee tins handy for those impromptu road trips?

If you take out one of these tins and notice that it’s passed its expiry date, you might wonder if it’s safe to consume.

To answer that question, it’s important to know something about expiry dates that are printed on instant coffee. You’ll usually see a “best by” or “best before” date printed on the tin.

While you might think that this means you can’t consume the coffee once that date has passed, this is actually not true.

That date is just the manufacturer’s estimate of how long the instant coffee will remain at its best quality, as shelf-life guide Still Tasty reports. That means you can go ahead and drink it.

But, there is a catch…

A tin of instant coffee that’s been opened can maintain its quality for around a year to a year-and-a-half.

However, in order to ensure that your coffee tastes good even if it’s expired, it’s important that you follow the correct coffee-storing rules. No one wants to drink a cup of coffee that tastes bad! 

How To Store Your Instant Coffee

How To Store Your Instant Coffee
  • Once you’ve opened a tin of coffee, always store it in a cool, dry area. Keeping it away from sources of heat is important.
  • Even though the tin has been opened, you should keep the storage container for your coffee tightly closed. This could mean keeping its lid tightly screwed on or transferring the coffee to a storage container that has an airtight seal.
  • You might want to store your instant coffee in the fridge, and this is a good idea – but just make sure that it’s sealed tightly so that it won’t absorb odors from the fridge, like last night’s garlic pizza leftovers.

How Can You Tell If You Shouldn’t Consume Your Instant Coffee?

If your instant coffee has gone stale, you’ll notice that it doesn’t have its usual flavor and might even have a strange taste or odor.

If mold has started to grow on the coffee, then this is another sign that you shouldn’t drink it. If the above signs aren’t present, then you can go ahead and drink the coffee because it will be safe – and enjoyable – to do so. 

Why Does Instant Coffee Harden?

Why Does Instant Coffee Harden?

When you open an instant coffee tin that you haven’t used for a while, you might wonder why it’s become so hard. Does this mean that it’s unhealthy for you to consume?

If your instant coffee has become hard, this is usually as a result of moisture that’s seeped into the coffee. This, in turn, can make mold start to grow in it.

While you might not think that moisture is the culprit, due to how you always ensure that your instant coffee is stored in an airtight container, there are other ways that moisture can sneak into your instant coffee.

For example, if you use a wet spoon to scoop coffee into your mug, some water residue could end up inside the tin.

How To Soften Coffee That’s Become Hard

As long as your instant coffee isn’t showing any red flags that it shouldn’t be consumed, such as by releasing a strange smell, you can make use of hardened instant coffee.

There are a few hacks on the internet that have had some success, so you might want to try these if you have a full tin of instant coffee that’s hardened and don’t want to waste it by throwing it away.

First, try to break it up with a spoon. This is the simplest way to (hopefully) break up hardened coffee.

If using a spoon doesn’t work, popping it into a mixer might do the trick, but you want to go slowly and be gentle because the instant coffee is already a fine powder. Also, make sure that your mixer is perfectly dry before using it otherwise you’ll just create more problems for the coffee!

If you tried to use a mixer and ended up with instant coffee that hardened again, your best bet is to boil water and add it to the instant coffee powder. Make sure you mix it well so that it dissolves properly.

You must add the water bit by bit so that you don’t end up with clumps, and it’s better to make use of lukewarm water instead of water that’s piping hot. Once that’s done, you can store this coffee liquid in the fridge, making sure to keep it in an airtight container.

This method is probably only a good idea if you want to use the coffee soon, as it’s important to remember that you’ll lose some of its rich taste once it’s been diluted. If you can’t drink it, consider using the diluted coffee in dessert recipes. 

How To Make The Perfect Cup Of Instant Coffee

You want to make the most of your instant coffee, and that means that while you ensure you store it correctly you should also know how to make it taste the best it can.

Some people say that instant coffee isn’t the same thing as brewed coffee, but this certainly doesn’t have to be true – especially if you follow these tips to make the best-tasting cup.

Use fresh water every time you make a cup. Don’t fill your kettle and use that water to make several cups of coffee throughout the day.

It’s better to fill the kettle for what you need and then refill it with water when you need another caffeine boost. This is because if you keep boiling the same water, it allows oxygen to escape and this alters the taste of the water.

Put a tablespoon of cold water into your cup. Before you put coffee and hot water into your cup, put one tablespoon of cold water into it. Then add the instant coffee. Stir it well, then add the hot water from your kettle.

The reason why this works so well to enhance the coffee taste is because when coffee dissolves in hot water, its amylum substance hardens – this is a substance that causes your coffee to taste sour or bitter.

If you dissolve the coffee in cold water before adding the hot water, this allows it to dissolve better and taste better. 

Remember, you might have to experiment a bit with making coffee before you settle on the best-tasting cup, such as when it comes to how much instant coffee to use and how much milk and/or sugar you add to it.

It’s worth it to use the same cup and spoon every time you make your coffee so that you’ll be able to accurately measure the ingredients and be more consistent. 

Related Questions

Should you boil milk before adding it to your cup of coffee?

This is a good tip as it will ensure that it blends better with the coffee than if you use cold milk, but it’s especially important if you’re adding your coffee to milk without any water. It’s worth trying to see if you like it.

What’s the best type of instant coffee to buy?

It’s worth it to read the packaging of instant coffee – it should say “freeze dried” as this has a better flavor than “spray dried.”


If you like to drink instant coffee, you’ll be disappointed when you discover that your coffee has become hard or has passed its expiry date. But this doesn’t mean you necessarily have to throw your coffee out into the trash – there are ways to salvage it.

In this guide we’ve answered the question, “Does instant coffee go bad?” We’ve featured situations when you can use your old coffee and other times when it’s best to throw it out. We’ve also featured some ways in which to make the best tasting cup of instant coffee.

Last Updated on May 15, 2021

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