Coffee powder is a great thing that can help you to get the most out of your morning cup without having to grind beans fresh every time you want some.
That being said, when coffee powder is left too long or when coffee grounds are not used in time, they can become hard and difficult to use as well as they have less flavor.
What Makes Coffee Powder Harden?
Coffee powder, just like ground beans that you have ground yourself, contain water and oils that help to emulsify them with the water that you mix them with.
The oils and water are part of the chemical makeup of the grounds and the powder and as they age, the water and oils can leave grounds and can leave the powder.
When a coffee powder is exposed to air, the water particles and the oils that are in the grounds or the powder will slowly be carried away by the air which will then dry out the powder and dry out the grounds.
When the grounds and the powder dry out, they do tend to clump together and they do tend to get hard and less appetizing.
What Causes Clumps?
When you are using your coffee, say using a spoon to take out a scoop of powder to make a cup of coffee, you may have a spoon that has moisture on it that then causes the powder to clump.
When these clumps are moist, the grounds will be fine, when the clumps dry out, they tend to get very hard and tend to get very unappetizing.
When water is introduced to your coffee powder, it can cause the coffee to clump together as the water makes its way through the grounds and eventually stops.
The clump will then harden and become virtually unusable over time.
With coffee powder that has things like sugar and creamer in them, this clumping is even more common.
Moisture is going to be your biggest issue and is going to be the biggest cause of clumps that are going to make your coffee less tasty and less usable overall.
Sugar is a compound that likes to clump together, it likes to be with other sugars.
Also, sugar is water soluble and when water is introduced to a coffee powder that already has sugar in it, those sugars are going to melt when they come in contact with outside moisture then clump when they dry out.
This makes those unsightly hard sugars that are going to be hard to melt and hard to use in your coffee.
How to keep Your Coffee Clump Free
The best way to keep your coffee from clumping is to make sure you have the right storage container.
You can use the original container that the coffee powder came in, but it may not be fully water proof and air tight which can let in more moisture and can let in air that will lead to clumps.
If you are switching your coffee powder to a container you do need to take the time to find a container that is air tight.
Making sure your container is air tight is going to prevent water from getting in, it is going to prevent air from getting in, and it is going to protect the integrity of the coffee powder so that it stays the way that it started and does not change chemically.
You should ensure that the container is clean, fully dried and wiped down before you transfer the coffee powder and make sure that it is tightly closed each time that you use it and each time that you put it back away after making your coffee.
The next thing to consider is where you are storing your coffee powder.
You want to find a dry place that does not have a ton of light or temperature fluctuations so that the coffee stays the same temp or as close to the same temp as possible the entire time it is being used.
You should make sure your coffee powder is closed up tight each time that you use it as well.
The item you are using to scoop your coffee powder is also important.
If you are using the spoon you intend to stir your coffee with you want to make sure the spoon is fully dry before you put it into the canister.
You also want to make sure that you do not double dip and do not put a wet spoon into the coffee powder.
If you are using a scoop that you are going to put into the canister, you again want to make sure that it is clean, dry and that no extra moisture is added to the powder.
Moisture is the main reason that the coffee powder is going to get hard and clump.
You want to make sure that there is as little extra moisture as possible and you want to ensure that the canister stays tight and well closed when not in use.
Does Expiration Date Matter?
When you are using a coffee powder, you do want to take the time to make sure that you are using your coffee powders as close to the expiration date as possible.
As grounds and powders age, they do end up losing potency and they do end up losing their ability to mix well with water and more.
Though the expiration date is not the main reason that a coffee powder is going to clump, it does have something to do with how good the coffee tastes and how well it mixes up.
When you do have a coffee powder that is over the expiration date, it is going to be harder to make sure it mixes smoothly and it might not taste as good as it would otherwise.
Taking the time to use your coffee powder in a timely manner is going to help you get the best cup of coffee possible and the best taste overall.
Making sure your coffee powders and grounds are in an air tight container that does not allow extra moisture in can help you ensure your powders are going to last as long as possible and that they are going to taste great every time you use them to make a cup of coffee.
There are tons of great coffee powders and mixes out there and taking the time to make sure yours are stored properly can help you get a great cup of coffee and keep your powders clump free and usable up to the last scoop.