How Long You Can Store Instant Coffee Before It Goes Bad

It is always a good idea to store some instant coffee in your pantry. While it gets a bad reputation, the stuff is a convenient ingredient for many purposes, including cooking, baking, and, yes, even making coffee — especially if you select one of the best instant coffee brands from our list of favorites. If you are someone who has up until now avoided instant coffee, though, you may not only be unfamiliar with how to use it, but also how to keep it fresh. Read on to learn how long you can expect your instant coffee to last and what you can do to help maintain its quality.

Whereas ground coffee lasts only two weeks in storage, instant coffee lasts far longer. Since this type of coffee has such little moisture, it is difficult for pathogens like mold and bacteria to live or multiply. For this reason, a sealed container of instant coffee can last anywhere from one to 20 years, and an open container will stay good for at least two months or up to a few years. Where in these windows your instant coffee will fall will depend on the brand's printed expiration date and whether or not you store the coffee properly. For peak longevity, keep your instant coffee in an airtight container that is away from heat, light, and moisture — for example, tucked away inside your pantry.

How to tell if instant coffee has spoiled

Even after you follow these storage tips, it is important to examine your instant coffee from time to time to ensure it has not gone bad. While it is unlikely that the coffee will spoil in the traditional sense, it can still decline in quality to a degree where you will not want to consume it, if only to spare your tastebuds. Check the coffee using your senses of sight, smell, and taste. If the powder in your container is excessively clumpy or appears damp, if it smells sour or mildewy, or if it tastes like anything other than coffee, it is probably past its prime. In these cases, we recommend tossing it out rather than consuming it.

It is unlikely that you will ever need to extend the shelf life of your instant coffee. This is a good thing, since most methods for doing so — like refrigeration or freezing — are not recommended. Fridges and freezers tend to be relatively humid environments, and keeping your instant coffee in one of these places risks introducing moisture to coffee. Moisture is instant coffee's worst enemy, so it will cause the coffee to rapidly decline in quality. Instead, we suggest finding creative ways to use instant coffee that may be getting a little old. Some options include throwing it into smoothies and shakes, adding it to dry rubs for meats, or leveraging it as a flavor booster when baking.