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How Long is Brewed Coffee Good For? Ultimate 2021 Guide

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Common sense says you shouldn’t drink that cup you brewed some time ago because it probably just won’t be as good. The truth is that coffee turns murky, acidic, or tasteless after sitting on your kitchen counter for a couple of hours. But then the real question is – how long is brewed coffee good for?

Brewed coffee is good for a maximum of 30 minutes.

After these 30 minutes, your fresh cup of Joe will start oxidizing, which messes up the flavor compounds and turns it into a stale cup of Joe.

And if you don’t store it properly, we wouldn’t recommend consuming coffee that’s been sitting out of the fridge for more than 2 hours.

Now that we confirmed that brewed coffee can’t stay good forever, let’s find out more about the factors that deteriorate its taste and how to slow them down!

How Long Can Brewed Coffee Sit Out?

Brewed coffee has an average lifespan of around 10 to 30 minutes maximum.

If you leave it for too long, the natural coffee flavors will start slipping away.

However, keep in mind that a cup of black coffee can still sit out for 24 hours (technically)!

But adding sugar, coffee creamer, or milk will significantly reduce that period, especially anything that’s subject to spoilage e.g. dairy products.

Still, if you like milk-based beverages, it would be best to drink them within 1 to 2 hours maximum.

With the only exception to this rule being when you store your drink in the fridge.

However, as a general rule of thumb, it wouldn’t be as safe to consume coffee with additives that’s been sitting in the fridge for more than 4 hours!

So to put things into perspective, this means you should drink your sugar, creamer, or milk-infused coffee within:

  • 1 hour after brewing if left outside
  • 4 hours if stored in an airtight container

What if Your Cup Has Been Sitting in the Fridge for More Than 4 Hours?

Well, you can microwave it for 30 seconds and then drink it, but don’t expect the same flavor and texture as if it was freshly brewed.

But that doesn’t mean you have to toss it as the coffee itself will be perfectly drinkable, just not as flavorful.

And if you are not that picky about the flavor of your cups, you can brew black coffee, refrigerate it and then add additives (sugar, milk, creamer), but only when you are about to reheat it.

That’s because black coffee can sit for roughly 5 to 7 days in the fridge, although this depends on the freshness of the coffee beans that you’re using.

Regardless, we recommend to always try one sip of refrigerated coffee before microwaving/reheating it to make sure it’s still drinkable.

How to Tell When Brewed Coffee Went Bad?

Smell your cup of coffee and you’ll know for certain if it’s good or not!

Black coffee has no smell when it is bad so if you sniff the cup and you can’t feel the buzz, just toss it (or drink it at your own risk).

And that’s especially true for coffee with additives as you don’t have to be a coffee savvy to tell when your coffee with milk and/or creamer went bad.

If it smells bad, you bet it tastes even worse so just brew a new cup!

We wouldn’t recommend consuming spoiled milk as it can cause nausea or diarrhea.

And what if your coffee doesn’t smell bad but just smells a bit different than usual?

In this case, you’ll have to evaluate the taste yourself.

Take a sip and spit it out if it tastes awful or simply finish it if it is drinkable.

How long is brewed coffee good for, a hand holding a cup of coffee

How to Keep Brewed Coffee Fresh for Longer?

Don’t add any additives before storing your coffee, use airtight containers and keep it cool in the fridge.

Be careful when using dairy products since milk can make your coffee go bad in only 1 hour if the outside temperature is above the average.

But if you like coffee with milk, just add it after you’ve reheated your coffee.

When brewed coffee comes in touch with oxygen, it triggers oxidization that further accentuates the bitterness of your cup.

And leaving your coffee on the hotplate will extract the bitterness and in return, your coffee will have a burnt taste to it.

To Prevent Coffee from Losing its Freshness, Store it in an Airtight Container!

And if you don’t have one, a mason jar will work just as well.

You can also store brewed coffee in porcelain containers as this material preserves the coffee taste like no other!

Treated glass is also a good choice but make sure that the container has double walls (i.e. double-walled) for better heat and flavor retention.

And please, for your own sake – avoid plastic containers, otherwise your coffee will taste and smell like plastic!

Stainless steel containers might also give your java a specific taste, although they’re way better than plastic ones.

Generally, it’s best to brew the amount of coffee you can consume within 1 to 2 hours.

Otherwise, you will have to toss it or store it in the fridge, which will make your coffee lose some of its precious flavors.

How long is brewed coffee good for, women in a coffee shop

What Causes Coffee to Go Bad?

There are 3 things that make coffee go bad – air, moisture and heat.

For example, if you expose your brewed cup of coffee to moisture, it will encourage the growth of mold.

And heat is another factor that induces the very rapid formation of mold.

However, the most common reason why brewed coffee goes bad is… oxidization.

This process is inevitable since once you introduce your coffee beans to water, the oxidization begins.

But oxidization is an integral part of making java because that’s when the beans start releasing oils, aromatics and acids, which results in a flavorful cup of coffee.

Yet, oxidization continues even after you have brewed your cup of coffee.

Oxidization is Directly Related to the pH Level of Your Coffee

As a result, the longer the coffee sits, the higher its pH level will be, which makes it bitter and stale.

If you initially over-extract it, coffee will turn bitter twice as fast so try not to brew your java for too long.

Nonetheless, stale beans are your number 1 enemy as oxidization occurs much more easily with staler beans.

You can’t expect a fresh cup if you are using old grounds since these have already started oxidizing while water and heat will encourage the process even more.

It’s worth pointing out that you should also take into account the quality of the water that you’re using and your brewing method.

These are some of the additional factors that can make your coffee go bad more quickly.

And what about brewing coffee with a French press?

Don’t let it sit in the press but consume or store in the fridge right away.

Can You Get Sick From Drinking Old Coffee?

You can, but only if you have consumed a lot of old coffee or if you have added additives such as milk before properly storing it.

Black coffee that has been stored for up to a week or two (depends on the quality of the beans) probably won’t make you sick.

But if you are not feeling well after drinking old coffee, it would be best to consult a doctor.

Can I Drink Day-Old Coffee?

Don’t consume day-old coffee unless you have previously stored it in the fridge and/or in an airtight container.

A coffee that has been sitting out of the fridge for a day can easily go rancid and bitter.

Especially if it has milk in it, since then it can accumulate mold and possibly cause nausea.

Does Reheating Coffee Ruin it?

It typically doesn’t, unless you add any additives such as milk.

Coffee reacts well to heat, which won’t make it lose its energy-boosting properties.

However, note that while reheating coffee won’t ruin its specific caffeine-kick, you can spot a slight difference in terms of flavor and freshness.

Conclusion

So, a cup of freshly-brewed coffee will be at its best for around 30 minutes before the oxidization process kicks in.

Although drinking a sip or two of a cup of coffee that has been sitting there for hours won’t kill you, it won’t be that tasty and flavorful either.

Or in other words, don’t ruin your life by consuming stale, day-old coffee.

Now that you know how long is brewed coffee good for, share your thoughts on this matter with us.

Have you ever left a cup of brewed coffee on the table only to finish it later in the evening?

Does a single gulp of old coffee make you sick?

Can you tell when your cup starts going bad?

Come on, don’t be shy – leave your answer in the comments below!

Simon Slavchev

Simon Slavchev

Did somebody say coffee? Two shots of espresso for me, thanks. Oh, nevermind - I'm Simon, nice to e-meet you, dear CoffeeLifior! I like to write, drink coffee and I believe in Jesus. Highly-caffeinated drinks are my thing, but you can occasionally see me sip on decaf (my wife never finishes her coffee). Speaking of which, I'm off to grab another cup of caffeinated goodness now, laters!

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