What is the shelf life of coffee?

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Why the Best Before Date (BBD) for coffee is actually not necessary.

Time and again, the Best Before Date/expiration date is debated and the amount of food, which gets thrown away because of this imprint on the packaging, is criticised. Food labeling is mandatory in the EU and therefore also in the United Kingdom. While this is logical for some perishable foods such as dairy and meat products, consideration is now being given to eliminating the shelf life for long-term sustainable foods. This would also affect coffee.

Why the Best Before Date (BBD) for coffee is actually not necessary.

Time and again, the Best Before Date/expiration date is debated and the amount of food, which gets thrown away because of this imprint on the packaging, is criticised. Food labeling is mandatory in the EU and therefore also in the United Kingdom. While this is logical for some perishable foods such as dairy and meat products, consideration is now being given to eliminating the shelf life for long-term sustainable foods. This would also affect coffee.


What does the Best Before date say?

Since the 1980s, labeling of food with the best-before date has been mandatory. The determination of this date is at the discretion of the manufacturer and is a promise that the product can be consumed by that time without significant loss of taste and quality and health risks. Since this is not a general specification, it is possible that the same products from different manufacturers have a different shelf life. Since this comment only describes the date to which the product is at least sustainable, this does not mean that it must be discarded afterwards. Many foods can still be eaten after the expiry date. Here the consumer must decide for himself whether the product is still edible or not. However, very perishable foods are provided with a best-before date. These products should not actually be consumed after that date.


Also expired coffee can still be consumed

Since coffee is a dry food, it does not spoil as easily as other products. When purchased, the use-by date is therefore still relatively long in the future, because after roasting the coffee can still be kept for about 18 to 24 months. However, it is possible that, once you have bought a larger quantity of coffee, you will not be able to consume it entirely before the printed date. But that is no reason to throw away the coffee. Only if the coffee smells strange or clumps, you have to be careful and discard it. Otherwise, the only thing that can happen is that the coffee loses its aroma. Connoisseurs therefore try to consume their coffee in the first weeks after roasting, because they can then enjoy the best aroma with certainty. This does not mean that the coffee does not taste good at home later on. Coffee is specially packaged for a reason. This means that as long as the coffee is stored in its original packaging, or in a dry, closed container, it does not lose its aroma so quickly.

Once the Best Before Date has expired, this does not mean that the coffee does not taste aromatic at all anymore. Often, coffee can still be safely consumed up to at least one year after the date has expired. If you only want to enjoy your daily coffee in the morning and do not buy specialty coffee, you do not have to worry if the date on the package is older. In case of doubt, the coffee should simply be tried again, before deciding prematurely to throw the coffee in the trash can. In the meantime, this is also becoming the view of some EU countries which are considering deleting the expiration date for long-term sustainable foods, such as pasta, rice or coffee, to prevent too much food ending up in the garbage bin by a misconceivable date print.

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