Ah, the humble coconut – arguably one of Mother Nature’s most resilient, versatile products. Eat it. Drink it. Make carpets and roof coverings. The shells even make great serving vessels.
Then there’s coconut oil, often used in health and beauty products and cooking. And we can personally vouch for it being great in coffee. It’s especially good if you’re ever caught in the damp grey dinginess that typically descends on parts of the northern hemisphere in winter.
Yes, Britain and Washington State, we’re looking at you. We’ll forgive Washington state on the spot as it’s home to so many coffee companies, including one of the largest.
Britain, we’ll cut you a little slack too, for your contributions to rainwear. We know you kind of invented gumboots. And rain umbrellas. We still think a little coconut oil in coffee helps make those autumn/winter commutes more bearable though.
Can You Eat Coconut Oil?
You can use coconut oil in cooking, baking, and frying. Or even “raw”. While estimates vary, unrefined coconut oil has an astonishingly high smoke point of 350 degrees Fahrenheit or above. Refined coconut oil has an even higher smoke point. For a little context, water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit.
It adds the most delectable mouthfeel to coffee. It also adds calories due to its fat content. This fat, however, is made up of GOOD components.
Amazing as it may seem, we all need some fat in our diet. It helps keep skin, hair, and joints healthy. We just need to be careful about the type of fat.
Coconut Oil Benefits And Side Effects
Why is coconut oil in coffee such a big deal? Well, let’s take butter in coffee. Butter is high in saturated fat – not ideal if you’re trying to lose weight. The same applies to cream.
Coconut oil offers an ideal alternative. Only, isn’t coconut oil ALSO packed with fat?
Well, yes. There is fat in coconut oil. In virgin coconut oil, however, the fat is what scientists describe as an MCT (medium-chain triglyceride). And they’re a little different from ordinary saturated fat.
Does coconut oil really help with weight loss? Studies indicate it can – without increasing the metabolic risks. These fats have also been shown to reduce lipid levels while fasting. They’re even thought to offer some protection against inflammation.
Side effects of coconut oil are generally few. Be careful not to over-indulge, though. Some folk have occasionally experienced nausea or stomach pains.
How To Tell If Coconut Oil Really Has Gone Bad
Can coconut oil go bad, then? And just what happens when coconut oil goes bad?
Coconut oil should smell sweet and “tropical”. A rancid or “off” smell is a pretty strong indication it’s gone bad. You might also see mold spots.
Coconut oil should be white (or transparent when it’s melted), not yellow-tinged. Coconut oil should also have an even texture. When bad, it usually becomes lumpy. The typical coconut oil melting point is around 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
How Long Does Coconut Oil Last?
We’ve probably all been thinking recently about how long various products will keep. Just how long is the typical coconut oil shelf life?
Due to high levels of lauric acid, coconut oil keeps very well. Refined oil typically lasts around 18 months. Pure virgin coconut oil usually stays fresh even longer.
Does Coconut Oil Expire?
In general, coconut oil should last at least a year, sometimes up to 2 years. Check for a “use by” date.
We also checked out how to store coconut oil to prolong its shelf life. The best option? A cool, dark location with minimal temperature fluctuations.
To avoid introducing bacteria and hastening the process of decay, make sure you always use clean kitchen equipment. This applies when scooping out or pouring the oil.
How Is Coconut Oil Made?
How’s coconut oil made, then? What makes it special? And is coconut oil bad for you?
There are two types of oil: unrefined and refined. Unrefined oil is also known as virgin coconut oil; you might sometimes hear refined oil referred to as copra oil.
For refined coconut oil, the meat, or flesh, of the coconut is bleached and purified. Virgin coconut oil is less processed. The flesh of the coconut may be processed fresh or dried.
The oils are then extracted. For dried coconut flesh, oil is pressed out mechanically. For meat that hasn’t been dried, oil is squeezed out. For both methods, natural processing techniques are then used to separate the oil.
We call them nuts, but coconuts are, in fact, a type of fruit. The technical term is a drupe. Want to get really scientific? A coconut is a seed, a fruit, and a nut. That’s if you regard a nut as a fruit with a single seed.
Does Coconut Oil Taste Like Coconut?
One reason refined coconut oil is so popular in cooking is its utterly neutral taste. It doesn’t affect the other ingredients in the dish.
The same applies when you add it to coffee. You might be able to detect a faint scent, and you’re likely to realize something has been added. The real giveaway is the silkier texture of your beverage.
Unrefined coconut oil has a stronger coconut taste, although not as strong as the dessicated coconut you find in macaroons, say. (Which go great with coffee.)
Does Coconut Oil Need To Be Refrigerated?
You don’t need to store coconut oil in the refrigerator. If you do, leave it out for a few minutes at room temperature to allow the hard oil to soften before use.
One way to extend the life of coconut oil is to freeze it. Melt it, then pour into ice cube trays. If you’re in a room or location where the temperature is 73.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, just leave coconut oil on the counter to melt. (Don’t leave it in direct sunlight though as that destroys the antioxidants.)
Once frozen, transfer cubes to freezer-safe plastic bags. Brew your coffee as usual, then add one or two frozen coconut oil cubes.
Coconut Oil – Good Or Bad?
Most people tolerate coconut oil well. (Those with nut allergies might like to check with a health professional first though, just to be on the safe side.)
Just before we leave you to enjoy your coffee with coconut oil, here’s another trivia nugget. The “coco” in coconut derives from a Spanish and Portuguese word for head. Ever looked at the markings on a coconut?
Well, take it from us, it looks a little like a face. There’s even a Polynesian legend, Sina and the Eel. It’s often told by the elders, sages, and storytellers of island nations like Samoa.
Can Coconut Oil Go Bad?
What’s the verdict? Is coconut oil good or bad? And can coconut oil go bad?
Answers: yes; mainly no; and yes. Assuming it still smells sweet, and it’s either white when solid, or clear in its liquid state, doesn’t have any tell-tale mold spots, and doesn’t have a yellowish tinge, what are we waiting for, coffee fans? Brew’s up!
Hi my name is Larry, a coffee aficionado from the US. I have already visited Colombia, Sumatra, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Ethiopia and Jamaica in my pursuit of finding the best-tasting coffee beans. I currently write from Bali and enjoy the relaxed life that you can find only in Indonesia. Welcome to my coffee world!