The Simple Answer
Can coffee go bad? Yes, it sure can! However, under certain conditions it can be stored for much longer than one would expect.
If the coffee is sealed airtight, and stored in a cool and dry area, it can be safely consumed years later. In some cases, even decades later...
How Long Should You Wait?
For the best experience, you should actually consume coffee within a few weeks after it is roasted. The longer the coffee is left in storage, usually resulting in oxidization, the more stale that it will become.
You can think of coffee as being similar to cereal, something that stays good for a long time, but should be consumed quickly once opened.
Also, coffee beans hold up better and stay fresh for longer when stored as whole beans. This is one of the reasons why I have suggested to buy whole bean in the past.
How Do I Know If It Is Still Safe?
As mentioned previously, coffee can stay good for a long time. If you don't mind drinking stale coffee, you are safe to drink it for a long time. However, there is the possibility that coffee can become bad and not okay to drink.
If the coffee has been opened, stored in a hot area, or has become damp, you should proceed with caution.
You can typically tell if the coffee has gone bad by the rancid smell it will give off or if you spot mold. In both of these scenarios, the coffee should be thrown out and replaced with fresh coffee.
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