Due to its rich flavors and aroma, coffee has become one of the most essential staples in homes, restaurants, offices, etc. But what happens when you brew a fresh hot coffee cup for yourself but are in too much of a rush to leave home for work? Did you enjoy your coffee? Nopes!
Or what if you brewed too much coffee and are now left with the remaining- what are you going to do?
Of course, you are going to store it in your refrigerator. But for how long? Let’s answer that!
If you have black brewed coffee, it will last 2-3 weeks in the fridge if stored properly in an airtight container. However, it might not retain the same taste as a fresh brew after 3-4 days, but it is safe to consume. In contrast, coffee with milk or creamers may last 2-3 days in the refrigerator.
It is important to store coffee properly if you want it to taste fresh. If you don’t take the appropriate precautions, coffee beans, and ground coffee won’t keep fresh indefinitely. So, to preserve coffee’s freshness, many people freeze or refrigerate it. In any case, how long does refrigerated coffee last?
In this article, we will share how long different coffee variations can last in the fridge, how to store your coffee properly to retain its taste and other essential details. Keep reading!
Why should you put coffee in the fridge?
A straightforward answer to this question is to refrigerate your coffee to preserve its taste and freshness. If left outside, the coffee will go stale due to oxidation, which is its real culprit.
This is because coffee grounds consist of multiple acids, natural oils, and chemicals that get affected instantly by oxidation once they have been roasted. This oxidation causes the taste and scent of the subtle coffee grounds to deteriorate, thus becoming stale and unsafe to consume.
Therefore, air (O2) is a major no-no in the coffee case, and you must avoid its interaction at all costs. For this reason, storing your coffee properly in an airtight jar or container is recommended to keep moisture and air at bay and retain its freshness and taste for a more extended period.
How Long is Coffee Good For in the Fridge?
Can coffee be kept in the fridge for a long time? Despite what you might think, there is more to the story than meets the eye. It depends on how you prepare the brew, the coffee and water you use, and what additives you add (like dairy and sugar).
Anyhow, when it comes to how long does coffee last in the fridge, there are some things you should or should not do. For example, keep whole beans or coffee grounds out of the refrigerator. You can, however, make delicious iced coffee with leftover brewed coffee.
This is only one reason brewed coffee should be stored in the refrigerator. Whenever you need a glass of fresh iced coffee, just grab it and pour it. Moreover, it prevents wasting leftover coffee.
In that respect, let us learn about different coffee scenarios lasting in the refrigerator.
Different types of coffee in the fridge
Before elaborating on different coffee types and their shelf lives in the fridge, let us consider a few different scenarios to see what affects the duration of stored coffee in the refrigerator.
First, the most extended shelf life in the refrigerator is of an intense black coffee than a brew with additives like milk, creamers, or sugar.
Moreover, brewed coffee should be stored in an airtight container. By doing this, you can prolong the life of your brewed coffee by preventing coffee oxidation.
Here are different kinds of coffee and their shelf lives in the fridge:
Starting with a quick definition, iced coffee is a freshly brewed hot espresso shot poured over ice. It is a funny duo because the taste starts to alter once the ice begins to melt.
However, it is still a safe drink to consume, even if the ice melts, but the coffee will be heavily watery, with a less intense taste.
But, unfortunately, no matter what, a watery coffee will taste bad and is not worth storing in the fridge for long. Still, if you want to store your extra iced coffee in the refrigerator, remove the ice from your beverage and keep it for a day.
After reheating, you can always add the ice back.
Related Read: How To Make Iced Flat White? (Recipe + Tips Included)
Cold Brewed coffee
A straight answer? A cold brew can last up to a week or two in the fridge if stored properly. But how does it last this long?
It’s super easy to make cold brewing coffee, but it takes a long time. You’ll have to wait a day to brew, but it is worth the wait.
A cold brew has a very different taste from a hot espresso. It can be made with coarse coffee grounds, similar to what you use in a French press.
Thus, cold brew coffee should be made as a concentrate. Using a concentrate will preserve the flavor and last longer, up to 2 weeks, in the refrigerator. You can make it a real chilled drink by pouring it into a tall glass with ice on a hot summer day!
It is important to note that adding too much water to the cold brew can make it taste stale, shorten its shelf life and decrease it to up to a week only inside the fridge.
Moreover, you can even enjoy a cold brew by heating it over the stove. Just keep stirring the drink slowly and turn the stove off before it begins to boil. Your heated, cold brew is ready without losing its aroma and taste.
Hot brewed coffee
When stored in a refrigerator, brewed coffee can last up to four days. In spite of being outside the fridge, brewed coffee stays fresh for up to four hours.
The only thing you have to do is heat it up, add milk or creamer, and you’re done. However, if you reheat brewed coffee, it becomes bitter. Although this is not a bad thing, drink it right away if you don’t like bitter coffee.
The pressurized steam is forced through ground coffee to brew stovetop coffee, which collects in an empty chamber. The result of the final coffee cup is similar to that of espresso but with a lighter flavor and greater quantity.
It is most common to use a moka pot when making stovetop coffee. Alternatively, you can do it ‘cowboy style’ using a saucepan and coffee grounds.
The shelf life of stovetop coffee really depends on how they are stored. For example, keeping coffee in an airtight container may last up to 13-15 days in the fridge.
Though the taste will not be the same as a fresh stovetop coffee cup, it will still have a significant caffeine punch.
Don’t. Keeping espresso in the fridge is generally not worth it. Therefore, you must take care of the quantity when making espresso, so you do not have an extra shot that needs to be refrigerated.
While there is no harm in refrigerating espresso, there is actually no point in storing the shot in the fridge, as it is much less in quantity already.
However, it is perfectly fine to refrigerate espresso-based drinks like cappuccinos and lattes.
But remember that these drinks are only good for two days inside the fridge because they have additional additives in them like milk, sugar, flavors, creamers, etc.
Coffee beans and grounds
Again, storing coffee grounds and beans inside the fridge is not a good idea. Though it is okay to keep brewed coffee, as mentioned above, but not as whole coffee beans or grinds.
Mold and odors can grow on the coffee beans, and flavor can fade in a refrigerator because of the moisture and humidity that exists inside. Ground coffee is no different.
Furthermore, coffee absorbs other odors because it is porous. You wouldn’t want your coffee beans to smell like broccoli, or worse, fish or feta cheese!
However, if you have never opened the coffee grounds’ pack, it may last for a while, but there is no guarantee of its taste. Therefore, we do not recommend it.
How does milk contribute to the situation?
Previously, we discussed storing different black coffees in the fridge, but what about keeping the coffee with milk in it? Milk not only changes the taste of a well-brewed coffee, but it also makes it more challenging to store it inside the refrigerator.
Keeping milk at 4.4°C is necessary to keep it safe for consumption. When the temperature reaches this level, it is considered dangerous. It is in this danger zone that bacteria start spreading rapidly.
Consequently, if you stir milk into your coffee, you have two hours to finish it before it expires. You can store milky coffee in the fridge for up to two days if you put it within this time frame. Airtight containers must be used to keep it, however.
For example, if you go to Starbucks to satisfy your coffee craving but cannot finish the whole cup, there is no need to dispose of the leftover drink. Simply keep it in the fridge by covering the top hole and consume it within 48 hours.
Still, we will recommend sticking to storing black coffee in the fridge for best results.
Does Coffee go Bad in the Fridge?
Thankfully, coffee does not immediately expire or go rancid if kept inside or even out of the fridge. This is the primary reason why you would not see any expiry dates on many coffee containers.
However, coffee can turn stale. You should keep it in the fridge to preserve its freshness and flavor.
Still, there are a lot of debates over this question. While most people enjoy refrigerated coffee for weeks, many also believe that keeping coffee grounds or freshly brewed coffee in the refrigerator is wrong.
This is because coffee is porous and can absorb all aromas from different foods inside the fridge, eventually leading to a nasty taste and smell.
Moreover, many people also think a fridge is not cold enough to preserve a coffee’s taste and freshness, so it should be stored in a freezer instead.
Therefore, we came to the conclusion that your fridge settings, storage types, and even the type of coffee you use can determine whether coffee goes bad or stays fresh in the fridge.
How to Tell if the Coffee has Gone Bad?
Though you can store black coffee for about two weeks in the fridge, there are some signs to tell if it has expired or gone rancid.
- If your stored coffee tastes sour or smells like cardboard, it has probably been oxidized, thus becoming more acidic.
- If your black brew changes color, molds have gotten into it, and it is time to dispose of it.
- In addition, the black coffee may seem thicker or watery at the top, and sediment may have settled at the bottom of the container. It is not worth storing this coffee further.
- Coffee can even go rancid if its natural oils separate from the water and start to separate.
Does the Coffee Taste Change After Refrigeration?
Keeping coffee in the refrigerator is not recommended because it tastes changes and turns bad later.
In the process of roasting, fresh coffee beans shed water and caramelize, thereby producing sugar. Due to their dehydration after roasting, they absorb moisture from the surrounding air.
Due to the abundance of food in the refrigerator, there is a lot of moisture. This means that whole beans, especially ground coffee, can quickly absorb water from the air.
At that time, the brewing process on a small scale had practically begun with coffee and milk moisture reacting with each other. Thus, your coffee has already started brewing before you have!
Hence, using refrigerator-stored coffee, you are drinking old coffee with a compromised flavor and quality.
However, you may want to refrigerate if you are not planning to waste coffee, and you can do this by storing it in an airtight container. This way, the coffee will last for 2-3 days, or up to a week, depending on the type of coffee, as discussed earlier.
What are the Alternatives to Store Coffee in the Fridge?
Other than keeping it in the fridge, here are some alternatives to store your coffee:
In order to extend the life of your coffee’s flavor, you should invest in a thermos mug rather than putting it in the fridge and risking oxidation. If you invest in a quality model, a thermos flask will keep your coffee hot for 12 hours or more.
In spite of everything, you will lose some of the original coffee flavors and aromas. In contrast, refrigerating it will give you a better-tasting brew.
Leave it out
You can leave your black coffee out overnight rather than putting it in the fridge, and it will be perfectly safe to drink the following day. In any case, if you keep it outside for more than four to five days, mold will begin to grow on top, making the coffee taste bitter and stale.
In order to eradicate any potential bacteria in leftover coffee, it should be heated before drinking.
Earlier, we mentioned oxidation, so you might be wondering: does coffee oxidize? It’s a good bet if you are. Coffee starts to deteriorate as soon as it begins to cool due to the molecules colliding with each other.
As a result of this process, the taste of the coffee disappears. Therefore, consuming left-out black coffee is okay, but you won’t get the same taste and quality as a fresh one.
Another alternative to storing coffee in the fridge is freezing your brew. By this, we do not mean you keep the whole jug in the freezer and forget about it. That would taste terrible!
Instead, you can make coffee-flavored ice cubes by pouring the leftover black coffee into an ice cube tray and freezing it for later use. Doing this will retain the coffee flavor to some extent, and you can use the cubes in iced coffee for an extra caffeine punch.
How to Make Refrigerated Coffee Last Longer?
If you want your coffee to last in the fridge for an extended period while retaining its flavor, you must follow the proper ways to store it. For example:
Store coffee beans as whole
Whenever you need to store roasted coffee beans in the fridge, keep them whole in an airtight container. Ground coffee, by contrast, has a significantly larger surface area and is exposed to more oxidation, which substantially shortens its shelf life.
Use an airtight container
Speaking of airtight containers, this is the most important and effective way to keep your coffee fresh and tasteful in the refrigerator for an extended period.
As a result of coffee beans’ porous nature, they tend to absorb other fridge odors. When you come back to drink brewed coffee, you might find it has a faint onion smell and taste if it’s stored, for example, in an open mug. Gross!
Hence, to avoid quick oxidation and absorption of surrounding smells, you should always store your coffee in an airtight container to retain its freshness and flavor for longer.
Let the coffee cool down first
Putting a fresh, hot cup of coffee into the fridge is not recommended because it is not suitable for the drink itself.
Hot surfaces are the best breeding grounds for bacteria. Since your refrigerator will raise its temperature to cool down the hot coffee, it will also cause bacteria to multiply over your drink.
The Bottom Line
As coffee lovers, when you do not get to drink the coffee you made in time, it can be difficult to pour it down the drain. There are many ways to save it, and it’s worth trying.
If you have leftover coffee, it is a good idea to keep it in the refrigerator for about 3-5 days or about one week if it is cold brewed coffee.
You can also freeze brewed coffee to make coffee ice cubes, which you can use in smoothies, protein shakes, and fresh iced coffee.
Among other things, you can bake with it, cook with it, and garden with it as well!
The health of your body is more important than a cup of coffee (no, really). When drinking coffee that has been sitting out for several days, make sure to refrigerate it properly.
What should I do with leftover coffee?
When it comes to leftover coffee, a few options that don’t involve throwing it away are available. In chocolate cake mixes, you can use it to add more chocolate flavor, make frozen coffee cubes for cold brew, add spices to Mexican moles and chilis, or even water your plants to boost their health and growth.
Does a cold brew coffee go bad fast?
If you store it in the fridge, a cold brew should last at least seven days. When you start noticing that the taste is off, simply brew yourself a fresh cup. In the heat of summer, we all deserve a refreshing cup of cold brew.
Can I drink 3-day-old coffee from the fridge?
The life of brewed coffee is extended if you keep it in an airtight container in the fridge. You can consume it safely for 3–4 days after storing it like this. It won’t probably taste all that good, though. If your coffee is left at room temperature, drink it within two hours if you have added milk or creamer.
Can I store coffee grinds and beans in the fridge?
Whether in an airtight container or ground, you shouldn’t store coffee in the fridge, whether it’s whole bean coffee or grinds. In addition, it’s not cold enough to keep the grounds or beans fresh, and they absorb odors in the fridge since it acts as a deodorizer.
What is the best way to store coffee in the refrigerator?
It is generally recommended that brewed coffee be stored away from light, heat, moisture, and air. For this reason, an airtight container will work best to preserve the freshness and flavor of the coffee. Moreover, if your coffee comes in a zip-top seal bag, you can also store it in that.