A reader writes:
“Yesterday, I bought coffee at the supermarket. When I got to the register, I realized the bag had a hole in it (about a 1″ tear in the bottom) so I went to get another one. By mistake, the cashier gave me both the good back and the torn bag. Do you think I can still use the torn bag? I hate to throw coffee away! I’m concerned it might be full of germs, but then again, it gets boiling water poured over it, so maybe germs aren’t an issue. What are your thoughts?”

-Java Junkie

Dear Junkie:

Are you confident in the cleanliness of your supermarket? Any questionable clientèle (I’m thinking about tampering)? If you have any doubts, then just throw it away. It’s not worth it. If not, you could microwave the coffee grounds for a minute or two, just to make sure any possible germs have been killed. I don’t think that would affect the flavor of the coffee when you ultimately make it. And, just to be safe…I would store the coffee grounds in the freezer.

But think about it: Do you really want to fret every time you sip a cup of the dubious brew? Coffee is supposed to be comforting, not crazy-making. Throw it away, and don’t worry. The coffee may have been free, but the real price could be much higher.

I don’t think you even want me to tell you about the slime mold spores.

I’m happy to answer any questions related to food, wine, and entertaining. I don’t know everything, but I promise to sound like I do, even when I have no idea. Just add a comment to one of my posts – I’ll find it!