Of course, freshly brewed coffee is better. But with a busy schedule— or probably the lack of apparatus to make coffee—one might need the help of one’s trusty fridge. If absolutely unavoidable, we have to know how long brewed coffee lasts in the fridge.
If you keep brewed coffee in a sealed container in the fridge, it can last for 3–4 days and won’t go bad. But if you’ve added milk or creamer, you need to drink it within 2 hours if left at room temperature.
Does brewed coffee go bad?
To safely consume leftover coffee, we need to know the shelf life of freshly brewed coffee. I mean it might seem like a waste of good coffee, but we should definitely consider our health first, right?
You don’t want to be stingy about less than a dollar's worth of coffee going down the drain only to rack up hundreds of dollars in hospital bills. Food poisoning? NO, THANKS!
And even if your brewed coffee is still safe to drink, another thing worth considering is the taste. Is it tolerable though? Of course, one other concern with refrigerating brewed coffee 🤔
Yes, water couldn’t possibly go bad right? But we're extracting organic compounds too. The acids and oil that make coffee taste…like coffee. 🌰
Not to mention we're also considering bacteria. Some creepy crawlies could have found their way to our mug. Yikes!
And if your coffee has milk or sugar, it could go bad faster because of these ingredients.
Factors that can make coffee go bad in the fridge:
1. Bacteria 🦠
One of our main concerns with leftover coffee is that molds and bacteria may begin to emerge. Brewed coffee begins to grow mold if it is left out for an extended period. This usually happens if the coffee is left at room temperature for 4 to 7 days.
Certain enzymes are naturally present in food. They are known as oxidizing enzymes. These enzymes speed up chemical reactions between oxygen and food components. This is what leads to food spoilage.
Bacteria can cause food spoilage by breaking down the food. They produce acids or other harmful chemicals the moment they put this process in motion.
For example, your harvested crops start to decompose when they are attacked by microorganisms in favorable conditions.
But let's not overreact, although bacteria and mold can grow in brewed coffee, it takes several days for them to reach dangerous levels. For example, if you leave a pot of coffee in a coffee maker for a week, mold will grow on the surface.
Now you might be thinking, why not pop ‘em in the microwave? Well, microwaving your leftover brewed coffee can indeed kill bacteria in your coffee. But usually only towards the outside of the mug such as the lid.
There’s still a chance that you could get sick if the coffee is no longer fresh. Just like any other food in the fridge, cover your coffee mug to keep the contents clean.
Milk makes a huge difference in your coffee. With this addition, it can change the flavor. The downside is that it also completely changes how you can store coffee.
Milk spoils due to bacterial overgrowth, which reduces its quality. If your milk has an unpleasant odor or taste, or if the texture changes, it has spoiled.
Of course, milk does not last long, but it can still be kept for a day or two only if it is kept in a cool clean place, most likely the fridge. And you can still probably enjoy it, especially if reheated.
It'll probably be fine if you just leave it cold, but it'll taste better if you heat it again.
If you've added dairy products, you have two days to drink your beverage. This is the point at which milk and cream begin to spoil.
You can put yourself at risk of stomach problems or food poisoning. Which we all know is a much bigger issue than forgetting the old brewed cup of coffee.
I don’t know about you but I am on the fence about trying out coffee that may or may not have its own growing ecosystem.
Note: If you plan on storing coffee in the fridge, make sure it's black coffee. ONLY add milk when you are going to drink it.
Never drink coffee that has been sitting out at room temperature for more than twelve hours.
Cold coffee is a breeding ground for bacteria and will usually have mold spores by this point, even if you can't see them.
Temperature control is an important factor in pathogen control in food.
Bacteria grow very slowly at low temperatures. They multiply rapidly at mid-range temperatures and die at high temperatures.
Again, wasting one cup of coffee is better than becoming ill as a result of drinking it.
How long can you keep brewed coffee in the fridge?
You can keep brewed coffee in the fridge for as long as 3-4 days given it is in a container safe from any contaminants.
Again, our concern about old coffee isn’t just about being safe for consumption. We also have to consider how it tastes. We've probably found ourselves in desperate situations with day-old coffee + cravings (if you know what I mean).
Will the coffee still taste good? You can’t exactly call it “seasoned” coffee right? I don’t think this is something you compare to wine.
Let’s take a look at a discussion on Reddit about how long brewed coffee last in the fridge:
What I learned is that keeping coffee in the fridge will keep it drinkable, meaning safe, but not entirely pleasing or palatable. One might even think, how is this different from cold brew? (More about that later)
The best temperature for coffee is based on flavor. And the flavor is not only about taste but the aroma and the lack thereof. Coffee losing heat when kept in the fridge also means losing some of the flavors we love.
Any avid drinker knows that the satisfaction of brewed coffee doesn’t start with the first sip, but rather the first…sniff? Nothing beats the smell of freshly brewed coffee.
One of our main enemies is oxidation. Exposure to air leads to oxidation. A fancy way of calling your coffee stale. Ugh! Who likes musty, bready, and cardboard-like coffee?
Well, we all know that there are different kinds of brewed coffee. So it’s understandable that they all have a different shelf life —or in this case —fridge life?
How long does brewed black coffee last in the fridge?
Plain black brewed coffee has a much better chance of staying flavorful. If you keep brewed coffee in a sealed container in the fridge, it's likely safe to drink for up to 3–4 days.
As for the flavor, an air-tight container
But talking about how long black brewed coffee will last in the fridge is also taking into consideration its taste.
Does Iced coffee last longer in the fridge?
Ah, yum! This is the kind of brewed coffee you grab on an exceptionally hot day. It’s a refreshing and energizing drink on your way home after school drop-off or getting groceries. And as soon as you’re home, straight to the fridge it goes.
In the case of iced coffee, it’s only as good as long as the ice is still there.
I agree that the shelf life of an iced coffee ends when the ice melts. Yes, you can leave coffee overnight and then reheat and consume it the next day and it will still be safe to drink.
But then, watered-down coffee does not taste good no matter what. Blame it all on the ice.
It would be a mistake to compare cold brew with iced coffee. In the case of cold brew, it would even be tastier if you keep it in the fridge for an extra day.
Iced coffee already went through the brewing process and will keep losing its aroma. Most importantly, iced coffee should not be stored in the fridge unless the ice is removed first. Or you’ll end up with formerly-iced-coffe-now-melted-ice-watery-coffee.
How long can Espresso stay in the fridge?
You can still consume an espresso after 4 hours in the fridge and it will taste okay (but not good). If we're talking about safety, you can still drink your espresso for no more than 2 days.
Many believe that brewed coffee is best when consumed within 20-30 minutes in an open cup or within an hour in a sealed container. For the best flavor, brewed espresso, like brewed coffee, should be consumed shortly after brewing.
People drink espresso for its strength and the crema. So it’s important to consider this too.
Crema is formed during espresso extraction and will last for about two minutes before it vanishes into the rest of the espresso. Keeping your brewed espresso in the fridge will keep it fresh for up to 2 days but then all the crema will be gone.
How long does cold brewed coffee last in the fridge?
A cold brew coffee can be kept in the fridge for two weeks and still taste great if stored properly.
You make a cold brew by steeping coffee in water for hours to a few days at cold temperatures.
If you can remember from earlier, oxidation is what causes your coffee to taste stale. But a cold brew coffee is a little different because no oxidation occurs in it. Oxidation only occurs with hot coffee as it cools to room temperature. So you can enjoy your cold brewed coffee for up to 14 days!
However, as long as you store it in an airtight container rather than the coffee pot, you'll be fine to drink it.
How to store brewed coffee in the fridge for extended freshness?
It’s definitely better to just make enough coffee and keep it in a thermal carafe to stay fresh longer. But what if you prepared a big batch of coffee? Some coffee machines let you make 6 cups, 8 cups, or even 12 cups of coffee.
When you end up with leftover brewed coffee, you might like to make use of an airtight container. To keep it fresh for a longer time, you can keep your brewed coffee in a coffee bean jar. These jars are usually pretty airtight and made to keep fresh for a long long time.
This is the most important step. In fact, with grind and brew coffee machines, bean hoppers are made with UV-resistant plastic to keep the beans really fresh. Not to mention, coffee beans are extremely porous and can act as a sponge for other odors in your fridge.
Brewed coffee can suffer from the same fate.
For example, if you leave your coffee in an open mug, you might come back to a drink that may have the faintest smell and taste of onion or your tuna sandwich.
Tuna’s good, but probably not in a drink. Yuck.
Not to mention that if your coffee is constantly exposed to circulating air, oxidization will occur faster. This will cause the coffee to degrade faster, leading to a bad cup of coffee.
Can you reheat brewed coffee that got cold?
If by some unfortunate circumstance you didn’t finish your cup, you always have the option to reheat it. Day-old coffee is still drinkable; BUT…not without consequences.
Your coffee will not taste nearly as good as freshly brewed coffee and will most likely leave a sour taste in your mouth.
To some extent, every type of roast will taste bitter when reheated, and the bitterness of a dark roast coffee will be even more pronounced.
Take a look at this pretty interesting experiment below: 👇
You can also freeze brewed coffee. In fact, this is a better way to keep from wasting a cup that you forgot about after hitting that brew button. Frozen coffee lasts for up to six weeks without losing flavor.
When you’re ready you can just reheat your coffee. But is that enough?
Plain brewed coffee is good for a few days in the fridge
If you’re notorious for forgetting your coffee, you don’t really have to throw it down the sink. Like any other food and beverage, you can keep it in the fridge and it’ll still be safe for consumption.
As long as you consume brewed coffee within 4 days —and anything with dairy within the day— you’ll be fine. Also, don’t forget to keep the temp in the fridge cold!
Take note of all the factors and tips in this post to continue enjoying that delicious cup for later. Just remember to put hygiene into consideration and put your health first always. 👍