Do Coffee Syrups Expire? (signs it has gone bad)

Using Syrup is one of the several ways to increase the sweetness of your coffee-based drink, or you can also call it “reduce bitterness” from your drink. This was a practice more common in coffee stores, but in recent years, more and more people are brewing their own coffee at home.

This new practice of in-house brewing has increased the number of people purchasing and having syrup available at home, allowing a wider portfolio of coffee drinks. This leads to a logical concern, should we be concerned about the expiration date of our syrup?

Coffee syrups expire according to the printed expiration date within the package. If you open a bottle of coffee syrup and store it in your pantry for more than six months, you should avoid consuming its content. Whenever using a pump or pour spot, the shelf life will be reduced to 4 or 5 months only.

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Popularized by coffee chains like Starbucks, Tim Hortons, etc. coffee syrups help add extra flair and sweetness to your beverage. According to the National Coffee Association, 80% of US coffee consumers customize their beverages in some way. 

In this blog, we will learn: 

  • Do coffee syrups expire? 
  • Extending the shelf life of coffee syrups 
  • Coffee syrup preservation tips and tricks 

Dive in! 

How Long Does Coffee Syrup Last?

Typically, coffee syrups have a shelf life of two years when stored in a cool, dark and dry area. Though a particular kind of syrup will not technically go bad with time, the taste starts to diminish as it grows older. Moldy syrup can be consumed safely as long as you remove the mold first. 

This is true regardless of the fact that the bottle has been opened or not. To be on the safe side, you should use coffee syrup only for 6-9 months after you have opened it. 

If you store coffee syrup in a dry location at a temperature of 65-80 F, you can expect it to last between 30-60 days (provided the product is not exposed to any moisture). 

After this, it loses its flavor gradually and deteriorates over time. Coffee syrup kept out for too long can even start to give off a pungent smell and develop mold. These are some common signs which indicate that you should throw your bottle and get a new one. 

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Signs That Coffee Syrup Has Gone Bad

Appearance and smell are the two main things you need to check when monitoring coffee syrups. When buying coffee syrup, always take note of the color and smell. 

An expired container will have a significantly darker tint. This is because of sugar browning, which is one of the main ingredients in coffee syrups. The darker the sugar, the darker the color of the syrup. If your coffee syrup has become too dark, chances are that its texture will be thicker as well. 

Another way to identify spoiled coffee syrup is the smell. Depending on the flavor you choose, each variety will have a unique smell to it. As time passes by, however, the ingredients start to react, giving off a sour smell, meaning it’s time to toss it! 

Another factor that affects the expiration date of coffee syrup is the ingredients that are used in it. For instance, if you buy a dairy based coffee syrup, it will go bad quickly when compared to a syrup made with just water and sugar. 

Syrups that are kept at colder ambient temperatures are also known to last longer than ones that are stored in a humid environment. Here is an overview of the expiration life of some more syrups: 

Tip: Avoid adding coffee syrup to your coffee on a daily basis. This is because of the high concentration of sugar it has, which can lead to anomalies like weight gain, diabetes, heart diseases, etc. 

Using Expired Coffee Syrup 

An expired bottle of coffee syrup will likely develop off-flavors, but it is still safe to consume if you store it appropriately and don’t mind the flavour. 

This flavour is nowhere as close to the original and can be both rancid & sour depending on how long the syrup has been sitting. In some cases, the syrup may lose its inherent sweetness and take on a new taste altogether. 

But is consuming expired food worth the risk? NO! Even though you can consume coffee syrup after removing the mold, there are certain bacteria that might develop post-expiration and make you sick. 

Tips for Increasing the Shelf Life of Coffee Syrups 

If you have a bottle that has been lying around for a while and nearing its expiration date, here are some tips you can use to extend its shelf life: 

  • Increasing the sugar level: Though this one doesn’t sound healthy, it will help extend the lifespan of your syrup by 3 months. For this, just add a concentrated paste of equal parts of water and sugar to your syrup. 
  • Adding alcohol: Alcohol is an excellent preservative which can help extend the life of your coffee syrup. 
  • Regular straining: This helps break down any thick layers and patches in the syrup and ensures a laminar flow throughout. 
  • Campden tablet: These tables are used to kill bacteria in beer & wines and can also be used in coffee syrups. 
  • Reducing the pH: Add anything like citric acid or vinegar to bring the pH down as this helps preserve syrups. 
  • Rapid heating: Also known as pasteurizing, this process involves rapidly heating the syrup to 186 degrees for 6 seconds and then placing it in a refrigerator for 15 minutes. 

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Can I Refrigerate Coffee Syrup? 

Yes, you can refrigerate coffee syrup as it extends its shelf life. For this, we recommend using an iced cube-sized silicon tray. If it is unopened, then coffee syrup may last up to a year in the refrigerator. 

Opened containers, if placed in air-tight packaging, can be preserved for up to 4-6 months. Colder temperatures prohibit the growth of bacteria and increase the shelf life of any syrup that you put in. Refrigeration also reduces evaporation which is followed by the crystallization of the product. 

Bonus: Using a Pump 

The primary reason for coffee syrups going bad is contact with air and being kept in an open environment. This can be avoided if you use a coffee syrup pump. These are small pumps with an in-built pipe and an enclosure on top so that you can pour the syrup on your coffee without having to explore the tip of the bottle in the air openly. 

Click here to check out the best coffee syrup pumps online. 

Summing Up 

Technically, coffee syrups do not expire unless opened. Once opened, it’s best to use the coffee syrup within 6 months. Spoiled coffee syrup is still safe to consume but lacks the punchy taste and aroma of its fresher counterpart. 

With the tricks we discussed above, you can even extend the shelf life of your coffee syrup by months. 

Thanks for reading!

Charlie McFarlane

Specialty Coffee Enthusiast. Hungry for knowledge in the art and science behind specialty coffee and decided to document my journey, while sharing it with the public. More than 10 baristas were interviewed; over 21 farms were visited across 5 countries. Almost 100 Coffee Shops. Bean of choice: Pacamara. Preferred coffee country: Panama. Preferred Brewing Method: Aeropress. Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

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