Investigative

No Country for Old Beans: Some Coffee Retailers Selling Years-Old Java


Have you ever had a really bad cup of coffee? There is a good chance it's because of the beans.

Most coffee is brewed from fresh, flavorful beans and they're usually just a few months old.

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But you'll probably be surprised to learn that you may be drinking coffee made with beans that are really old -- maybe 8 or 9 years old, some as old as a decade.

To find out how old your coffee bean may be, an Inside Edition producer went undercover, posing as a coffee buyer interested in purchasing a shipment of cheap coffee.

During the conversation with the coffee broker, who sells beans of different qualities, he dropped quite a bombshell, saying: “The oldest coffee I sold was a couple of years ago, it was a 1997 crop.”

So who's buying these beans?

People who want to flavor coffee.

The producer asked the seller: “You can mask the taste with a nice flavor?”

“Yeah and blend in a little something else. Current crop to give it a little more zip,” he said.

There’s nothing illegal or improper about selling old coffee and it's perfectly safe to drink.

Phil Goodlaxon, owner of Corvus Coffee, a specialty roaster, in Denver, says he never buys beans older than 6 months.

He said: “Beans are everything.”

Goodlaxon says he only buys premium beans at about $5 to $6-a-pound. Cheaper beans can sell for about 90 cents per pound.

The older the coffee gets the more it turns a brownish color and loses flavor. You don't have to be a coffee snob to taste the difference. The coffee tastes pretty bad.

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Inside Edition set up a taste test with coffee drinkers. Most had no problem figuring out the older coffee was the one that tasted bad.

So, where does the cheap coffee wind up? Mainly at large institutions like hospitals, nursing homes or even vending machines.

The National Coffee Association says there is a wide range of coffees available today - all of which are safe for consumption. They added that they are not aware of any beans on the market that are over a decade old.

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