Don’t have time to finish up your cup of coffee?
And when it turns especially delicious, it feels like a waste pouring the fresh coffee down the sink.
One way to preserve its freshness is to refrigerate it.
But do you know how long does coffee last in the fridge?
The answer is – it depends on the type of coffee.
Let’s get into the details.
How Long Does Coffee Last in the Fridge
Not all coffee is the same. And that’s true when it comes to storing it in the fridge. There are some factors that define how long it stays fresh inside the refrigerator, such as the brewing method.
|Type of Coffee||Fridge Shelf Life|
|Cold Brew||Up to 2 weeks|
|Iced Coffee||3 to 4 days|
|Brewed Coffee||1 to 2 weeks|
|Instant Coffee||Up to 2 weeks|
|Coffee with Milk||1 to 2 days|
Coffee Consumed Cold
First, we’re going to talk about cold brew coffee.
Since it’s made with ground coffee beans steeped in cold water, putting it into the fridge doesn’t cause any chemical reactions that affect the flavor of the coffee.
Without much change in temperature, homemade cold brew can last in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
With that being said, your cold brew coffee will slowly start losing its flavor the more days go by. For the best-tasting cup of coffee, you should drink it within the first week.
Keep in mind that I’m talking about the cold brew concentrate here. If you add water to it before putting it in the fridge, it will last a bit less, depending on the amount added.
Iced coffee, compared to cold brew, lasts much less.
Theoretically, iced coffee will last 3 to 4 days in the fridge. Why theoretically? Because the ice in it will melt down pretty quickly, causing it to get heavily watered down.
In other words, it won’t go bad in the literal sense of the word, but it won’t be the best coffee you’ve tried. Quite the opposite- it will be disgusting!
If you want to actually enjoy your iced coffee after a few days, take out the ice before placing it into the fridge. Then, you can add it again right before drinking coffee.
Hot Brewed Coffee
As for regular brewed coffee, it can last a pretty long time when stored in the refrigerator. Even after a week or 2, black coffee should be safe to drink. With that being said, it probably won’t be very palatable.
But, if you finish it within 3 to 4 days of being in the fridge, you’ll probably have a somewhat decent cup of coffee. Of course, you should heat up the cold coffee before consuming it to kill off potential bacteria that developed in the fridge.
When it comes to espresso, I really don’t see the point of storing it in the fridge. A regular shot is just 1 ounce, which you can drink in a single sip.
Espresso is supposed to be bold and flavorful. But even after a day of sitting in the fridge, its delicate notes will be gone. And within 2 days, the crema layer will completely dissolve, which is a no go for every decent coffee drinker.
What about instant coffee, you might ask?
Well, a brewed cup can be kept in the fridge for about a week or 2. But like other types of brewed coffee, its flavor will be well lost by that time.
Coffee with Milk
Whether it’s espresso or cold brew coffee that you want to store in the fridge, things are different when you add milk into the equation. And I’m not just talking in terms of flavor.
As you probably know, fresh milk needs to be stored at temperatures no higher than 40° Fahrenheit. At a higher degree, milk will start developing spoilage signs, such as sour taste, clumpy texture, and an off smell.
There’s roughly a 2-hour window of opportunity within which you have time to either finish your coffee with milk or put it in the fridge. In the case of the latter, your coffee can remain consumable for additional 1 or 2 days.
It’s also important to store your coffee in a sealed container before putting it in the fridge. That way, it can’t get contaminated by any bacteria that might be found inside the refrigerator.
Tips for Storing Coffee in the Fridge
Let me be straight with you – storing coffee in the fridge is not an ideal option.
It works for cold brew coffee, but any other type of coffee will diminish in quality after being stored in the refrigerator. Especially if you need to reheat it before drinking.
But leftover coffee happens. And in that case, there are a few things you can do to make it last longer.
Store in Airtight Container
The reason why coffee goes stale fast is that it’s exposed to air. And oxygen causes things to degrade – for example, that happens with iron, which turns into rust.
If you simply store your mug filled with coffee in the fridge, the content will constantly be exposed to circulating airflow. As a result, most flavor and aroma will dissipate from your cup of joe pretty quickly.
But, if you store coffee in an airtight container, you’ll slow down the oxidation. Sure, there will be some air left inside the container, but without circulation, it won’t degrade your coffee that fast.
Let Coffee Cool Completely Beforehand
Never stick a hot coffee into the fridge.
First, such a quick drop in temperature isn’t good for the coffee and can cause it to develop an odd flavor.
But more importantly, it’s not good for your refrigerator either.
You see, when you place a hot cup of coffee inside the fridge, its heat will increase the overall temperature inside the fridge.
A refrigerator should be set at 40° Fahrenheit or below to prevent things from spoiling. But a piping hot mug can increase that by quite a few degrees.
In such a mild environment, bacteria can easily grow and spoil your food. What’s more, your fridge will start using up more energy to try to chill down back to the ideal temperature.
To avoid all this from happening, let your coffee cool at room temperature before storing it in the fridge.
What to Do with Leftover Coffee Instead of Putting it In the Fridge
As I said, storing coffee in the fridge is not the best option available, especially if you are a coffee lover who appreciates the taste of fresh coffee. So I totally understand if you want to avoid it.
Well, there are a few other things you can try instead.
Coffee Ice Cubes
One option would be to freeze leftover coffee. But I don’t mean sticking a whole mug into the freezer. That would taste disgusting once thawed.
Instead, pour leftover coffee into an ice cube tray. You can use these when you’re making iced coffee instead of regular ice, for an extra kick.
If you own a good thermos, it should keep your coffee warm for about 12 hours. That’s plenty of time to finish up the whole thing.
Even mild, coffee in the thermos will simply taste better than coffee that was reheated after storing it in the fridge.
Bake with It
Since leftover coffee never tastes as good as it used to, drinking it later might not sound appealing. But when you mix it with other ingredients, the diminished flavor and aroma won’t be that noticeable.
You can substitute water in baked recipes for brewed coffee. It works really great with brownies and bread puddings, for instance.
Make a Coffee Syrup
Aside from brewed black coffee, you only need a cup of white sugar to turn your leftover java into syrup.
Basically, you need to bring brewed coffee to a boil, while stirring the sugar until it dissolves. Then, after a few minutes of simmering on low heat, your syrup is done. Prepared like this, it can last up to a month inside the fridge.
Have more questions regarding storing coffee? In this section, let’s answer some of the most common questions on the subject.
Can you freeze brewed coffee?
Technically, you can freeze a whole batch of leftover coffee. But once thawed, it will be diluted from ice and will taste horrible. If you want to freeze it, do it in an ice cube tray, and add them to other coffee drinks.
How long is Starbucks iced coffee good for in the fridge?
You shouldn’t leave your Starbucks iced coffee in the fridge for too long. It will start degrading in quality within 8 hours of being stored.
Can you get sick from drinking old coffee?
Generally, drinking old coffee shouldn’t make you sick, although it can be quite unpalatable. However, if milk was added to it, stale coffee can be potentially harmful to your health.
To Sum Things Up
If you make more coffee than you can drink, storing leftovers in the fridge is one option.
Depending on the type of coffee, the shelf life inside the refrigerator can be anywhere between a day and 2 weeks.
Alternatively, there are a few other things you can do with leftover coffee, like freezing it into cubes or making syrup with it.
Not sure whether you should reheat your coffee after storing it in the fridge? Check out our article on why that isn’t a great idea.
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