Mold on coffee beans generally occurs when you’ve stored them incorrectly, allowing moisture and warmth to provide the perfect breeding ground for it. Or they have been forgotten about for a long time.
The mold itself isn’t what is harmful that comes from mycotoxins which the mold produces. Unfortunately, you are unable to judge the toxicity of the molds you encounter with the naked eye.
These mycotoxins have a variety of nasty effects on the human body when inhaled or consumed.
An example is Ochratoxin A, studies show it is dangerous for the brain and kidneys.
Just under half (45%) of commercial coffee beans contain
Ochratoxin A, the amounts found have been below the safety limits and aren’t high enough to be significant.
How do you know if coffee is moldy?
Not all coffee mold is visually noticeable and studies have shown that most coffee beans have low levels of mold already.
So how can you tell if coffee is moldy?
A strong giveaway of moldy coffee beans is the white fur coating you might be surprised with when opening up a container of coffee beans or grounds.
What if you haven’t seen the coffee beans to know if they were moldy?
If you can’t look at the coffee beans before being brewed, you will have to rely on your senses.
Almost all foods give unusual tastes when mold has taken over. It’s the food’s way of letting you know you shouldn’t be eating this.
If it smells bad, tastes funny, or has an unusual texture avoid drinking it. It is best to be safe.
How to remove mold from coffee beans?
The best and safest way to remove mold is to throw away your current batch of coffee beans and buy fresh ones.
But say you still want to use those mold coffee beans, how would you remove the mold?
- Wash the coffee beans with cold water.
- Using a blunt knife, scrape the mold off the beans.
- Fill an air-tight container up with 2 parts water and 1 part vinegar.
- Place the coffee beans into the container and secure the lid.
- After 30 minutes, remove the coffee beans and rinse them under cold water.
- Throw out coffee beans that are still affected by the mold.
- Brew your coffee beans.
Using water and vinegar to remove the mold is not a perfect method. It does affect the taste of your coffee.
Once again, it is best to discard the moldy coffee beans and purchase fresh ones.
How to avoid mold on your coffee beans?
There are a few things you can do to prevent moldy coffee beans. There are also certain things to look for when purchasing coffee beans to ensure they have low levels of mycotoxins.
Use coffee beans grown at high altitudes. Higher altitudes tend to be dry climates. These dry climates are less welcoming to mold when compared to more humid climates.
Proper coffee bean storage. Keep the coffee beans away from light, moisture, and heat inside an air-tight container. This container will not only help stop mold from developing but also slow down the staling process.
Roasting the coffee beans. Roasting the coffee beans has been shown to kill mold and reduce Ochratoxin A levels by ~65%.
Following and keeping these in mind will help you avoid moldy coffee beans.
What happens if you drink moldy coffee?
Accidentally drank moldy coffee?
Don’t worry! Consuming mold is common in food and drinks is very common. Some aren’t bad at all, blue cheese to name a popular food.
Thankfully, due to our stomach acid, a few sips of moldy coffee aren’t too bad. You might notice nausea, stomach cramping, and possible diarrhea, or you might notice nothing at all.
While mold could contain some dangerous mycotoxins, they are only harmful when consumed in large quantities.
If you are feeling ill or are genuinely concerned, it is best to see your doctor.
Mycotoxins are found everywhere, not only in coffee, but as long as levels are low, you shouldn’t face problems.
However, if your beans are fur-covered, don’t try to save them.
Just throw them away and head to the store for a fresh bag of coffee beans, the risk of illness might not be high, but it is still not worth it.
Be sure to look after this new bag of coffee beans, or you’ll find yourself in the same predicament in a few months.