Was cleaning in my office and found around 10kg vacuum sealed roasted coffee beans in the store room. Probably packed around 18 years ago. Dad had a cafe business with some friends around that time and I guess was kept until today. They are packed per 500g in a metallic-ish bag and vacuum sealed. Heard the hiss sound when I opened one. Though I did find some very fine lint type things inside. If you ask me it looks like the ends of a dandelion. Brand is UCC from Japan. Baked some at 180C for 4mins. Made a cup, doesnt have any wierd taste. Should I keep drinking it?

  • It will probably be pretty stale.
    – Ben Plont
    Oct 4, 2019 at 20:12

3 Answers 3


18 years might be pushing it, and that is impressive!
As a side thing, I would honestly love to try some.

I am not saying that it will definitely be bad, or definitely be good before a certain amount of time, and that is subjective as well..."good" and "bad" being if they still have flavor or taste rancid. The question is about "safe to consume", with the side topic of being "good flavor".

Normally, Coffee has a shelf-life about 3-9 months, depending on if its ground, whole, flavored, and how and where its stored.
That may spark some arguments though, but the question is about "safe to consume" not flavor.
At a store, they would not have a bag of coffee on the shelf for more than 1 month from roasting, regardless of how its sealed.
Looking at food vacuum seal places, they say that coffee sealed will last up to 3 years vacuum sealed.
Link 1 to vacuum bag shelf-life
Link 2 to vacuum bag shelf-life

I found this article specifically about coffee and has a chart and table for that. This is right in line with the other articles and what I mentioned above.

Those are all recommendations, and there is good reason. Usually with any vacuum seal there is some oxygen that gets into the product and that will cause it to degrade over time. The oxygen is part of the air, which may also contain some moisture. The moisture will also degrade the product over time, creating an environment for bacteria to grow in. Bacteria needs oxygen and moisture to grow, and the reduced oxygen slows down the process of spoilage and creates an environment to limit the growth, while also limiting the evaporation of any moisture in the food (thus it retaining its flavor).
Also, the vacuum seal can and will degrade over time itself eventually letting in some oxygen and moisture. This is different depending on the packaging and type of seal. This is based on the manufacturer of the vacuum seal as well, though some are better than other, often the manufacturer will put a date/time on the seal knowing it will last longer than that but that is the less than minimum, so that way its not an issue when the seal does give.

Typically, when coffee goes bad there could be some mold IF its exposed to moisture for a long period of time, but usually it would just lose its flavor and possibly some of the caffeine. You can tell if its gone bad by the smell when you open it. If when you opened it, and it smells of mildew or mold, then its definable bad, and that would be bad to drink. If its just odorless and bland smell, then it is probably still good to drink, but probably won't have any flavor. Coffee like that, will not be harmful to you, just not be "good" to taste (but also probably not "bad to taste either).

Though I did find some very fine lint type things inside. If you ask me it looks like the ends of a dandelion.

That could have been some of the beans breaking down, or just a bean that got crunched in the packaging a while ago. Depends on the coloration and smell and such. Personally, I would try that at all.

If you already brewed it and didn't find any bad taste, smell or feeling from drinking it, then its probably good. Additionally, you could also blend this coffee with other fresh coffee, assuming its still "good" based on the above.

Found this article and this gives more details on it going "bad".

  • 1
    I would gladly send you some, unfortunately my parents are convinced that the lint type stuff is some sort of mould and had me toss every single packet out. Honestly it did not taste stale or bad (to me at least), actually smelled rather good when it was just grounded. It may not seem to cause any sickness but ultimately I think it is still not worth risking it. I'll give you a heads up if I stumble into more haha.
    – C. Wagner
    Oct 8, 2019 at 9:34

Well a Japanese guy sells coffee made from 22 yr old beans at $914 per cup, but they are unroasted beans and he roasts them after 20 yrs. So maybe you have unknowingly had the privilege to taste something like that 900$ drink :) https://youtu.be/qIbbJV-grHg?t=6m54s


I would certainly use it. Coffee is dry and that in itself preserves if even if not vacuum sealed. The taste may suffer a bit but maybe not.

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