Can Coffee Go Off? Why Does My Coffee Taste Sour?

If you’ve bought coffee from us or from the supermarket recently, you might have spotted a best before date. So, does this mean that coffee goes off? And is it safe to drink coffee after that date has passed?


Let’s find out.

woman drinking fresh coffee on the sofa

Does Coffee Go Bad If You Leave It Out?

Technically, coffee doesn’t go off. It will never become mouldy or unsafe to consume. The best before date on a bag of coffee is a recommendation as to when you should drink it for the best taste. Over time, the flavour profiles in will deteriorate which is what some refer to as ‘coffee going off’. 


As soon as the beans are ground, they begin deteriorating. Exposure to the air causes ground coffee to quickly lose flavour and intensity which is why you should always store coffee in an airtight bag. The fresher your coffee is, the fresher it’s going to taste so bare that in mind when you’re buying your next bag.


So, while we know that coffee doesn’t really go off; it does lose the taste and intensity that we all love in our brew. That’s why we always recommend drinking your ground coffee within 2 weeks of receiving it and never ordering more than you need.


If you have a coffee grinder at home, it's always best to grind fresh. It's much easier to store whole bean coffee and you'll find it stays fresher for longer. You'll notice an immediate improvement in your final brew as well... there's no beating freshly ground coffee. 


When you become a Regular and sign up for our specialty coffee subscription, you always save 15%. Our best value kilo bag offers 1kg of freshly roasted, light or dark roast coffee beans for just £24.64.

Is it safe to drink out of date coffee?

As coffee doesn’t really go off, it is safe to drink out of date coffee. Although the taste and intensity of your cup of coffee will be significantly worse than what you were expecting, there is no health risks associated with drinking coffee passed its use by date.


Please remember, this article is about coffee beans and freshly ground coffee which doesn’t go off. A cup of brewed coffee will go off as the natural oils found in the fruit go rancid over time. We’d always recommend brewing fresh. Obviously.

What does coffee taste like when it’s gone bad?

There are several factors that affect the taste of your coffee. For example, if your beans are under-roasted, they’ll take on a grassy flavour which will be a lot sourer than you’d expect from your morning brew.

 coffee tastes sour if it has gone bad

Sourness is what you’d expect from old or stale coffee as well. If you notice a sharp lemony flavour, it’s likely down to your beans being past there best before date or not stored properly in an airtight container.


It might not be the beans causing the problem. Your cup of coffee is up to 98% water. If your coffee appears to go bad suddenly, try using filtered water when you brew.


Brewing styles and grind size also have an impact on coffee taste. If you prefer a strong, thick and velvety cup of coffee then you should be using a French press style maker. On the other hand, if you prefer your coffee to have a clean, crisp texture then something like the Twist Press with a paper filter will make a better cup of joe for you.


Whatever coffee maker you use, making sure you’ve got the right grind size is also important. Coarsely ground beans are more likely to produce a watery and acidic beverage. Too finely ground beans could brew an overly bitter cup. It’s always best to check the recommendations on your coffee maker.


All in all, the age of your coffee beans might not be to blame for a rancid tasting coffee. You never know, it might just be your machine that needs some cleaning.

How to Prevent Your Coffee Going Bad

From the moment your beans are ground, they begin to deteriorate. To prevent your ground coffee going bad, you need to make sure it is stored correctly. To do this, use an airtight container or find a method to prevent air getting into the bag.


Coffee beans stay fresh for much longer than ground coffee so when in doubt, grind at home! A high-quality coffee grinder doesn’t have to cost the earth and ensure you’ve always got the freshest coffee to enjoy at home.

 does coffee go off if it is left for a long time

We know that sometimes your eyes are too big for your coffee brain. There are so many amazing coffees out there and we want to try them all! In order to ensure your coffee doesn’t go bad at home, never buy more than you need.


Here’s three top tips from Barista & Co to help you get consistently delicious, super fresh coffee at home:

Three Tips to Getting the Freshest Coffee at Home

1.      Find a Coffee Subscription Service that you Love

Did you know you can get freshly roasted coffee delivered to your door now? Seriously. The coffee that you’ve been buying from the supermarket could have already been sat in the bag for two years. Nobody wants that.


Make sure you’ve always got fresh coffee when you need it by subscribing to your favourite freshly roasted coffee. You’ll never have to worry about running out or your coffee going bad again.

2.      Get an Airtight Container or use Bag Clips

If you’re not a regular coffee drinker but you appreciate a super fresh brew, the easiest way to ensure your coffee doesn’t go bad is to make sure it’s stored correctly. Ground coffee starts to deteriorate when it hits air – that’s why you need to store it in an airtight container.


There are loads of great options for airtight coffee storage. We like keeping our coffee in the bag (there’s less cleaning up to do). Our coffee bag clips ensure all our bags are tightly sealed and the ground coffee stays fresh inside for longer.


coffee bag clips to keep beans fresh for longer

3.      Grind Fresh at Home

The only way to guarantee you get super fresh coffee in every cup is to grind for your brew. Whole beans keep their rich intensity for much longer, locking in the flavours. It won’t start to go bad until it’s been ground.


By grinding fresh at home, you keep all the flavour locked in that bean. It’s the freshest way to drink coffee at home, work or play. Our award-winning coffee grinder is perfect for home brewers. Grind from fine to course, by weight or time, for your chosen brewing style.

So, Coffee Doesn’t Go Off Then?

No, coffee doesn’t go off. It will start to taste bad. But it won’t rot or make you sick.


Coffee will however take on a sour taste if it’s not fresh anymore. If you notice a distinct change in the flavour of your beans, it might not mean they’ve gone bad. It could mean your coffee maker needs cleaning or you should switch to filtered water.


To prevent your coffee from going bad, follow these steps:

  1. Subscribe to regular fresh coffee deliveries
  2. Store your coffee in an airtight container
  3. Grind fresh for every brew


Following this advice will help you keep your coffee fresher for longer, ensuring every brew is bursting with flavour.

 making fresh coffee at a desk


Got a question about the freshness of your coffee? Our team are more than happy to help:

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