How Long Does Cold Brew Last Unrefrigerated?

Cold brewing has become extremely popular, with many claiming it’s the best method of preparing coffee. However, there are many aspects of this process that are still unknown to most people. One of these aspects is its shelf life. How long does cold brew last unrefrigerated?

How Long Does Cold Brew Last Unrefrigerated?

Cold brew can last unrefrigerated for up to two weeks. There is, however, a possibility that the taste could change within that timeframe. The best thing to do after brewing cold brew coffee is to keep it in the fridge, so it lasts longer, especially since cold brew coffee is often served cold.

If you want to store your cold brew for longer than one week, try freezing it or refrigerating it instead. Both methods will help preserve the flavor of your cold brew and make it last much longer than just keeping it out of direct sunlight.

Three mason jars filled with iced cold coffee beside coffee beans on a rough surface

Does Cold-Brew Go Bad?

Yes, cold brew goes bad. Although it doesn’t happen as quickly or to the degree, you might expect. Though it can also become too sour, lose its flavor and scent, start to smell rancid, and even develop mold.

If you store your drink properly, it will last several weeks without any issues. However, studies show some factors can cause things to go wrong with your drink over time. These include:

  • Your coffee is not properly cooled down.
  • You didn’t properly clean the equipment before brewing.
  • You don’t let the coffee steep long enough in your fridge or on your countertop. 
  • Your fridge is not working properly.
  • You’re using old coffee grounds: The longer coffee beans sit in their packaging after roasting, the more acidic they become.

How Do You Know if Cold-Brew Has Gone Bad?

When you make this coffee, you’re using a method that involves letting hot water sit in a container for a few hours to extract the caffeine from your coffee grounds. The longer it takes, the more bitter your final product will be. The time between brewing and drinking is referred to as “cold-chain” storage, which means that the caffeine should stay fresh until you drink it.

However, it may spoil if the beverage sits around too long and goes bad before you open it. This can happen if there’s too much oxygen in the container or if its seal has broken or been compromised. It could also be caused by poor storage conditions, like being left on a counter or out in the open air—or if someone else has opened up your container and put something nasty inside it.

Even if your drink hasn’t gone bad yet, some signs can help you know when it’s safe to drink:

  • Coffee has a brownish or blackish color.
  • The coffee smells like burnt coffee.
  • The coffee is thick and doesn’t pour easily into your cup or mug.
  • The coffee has an acidic or alcoholic taste.
  • The flavor isn’t as strong as it should be.
Iced coffee in a mason jar beside a blue and pink notebook was placed on a white surface

How to Store Cold Brew

The key to storing is keeping it in the fridge. Cold-brew should be stored at room temperature (between 50 and 60 degrees) and away from light.

In addition, it can be stored in any sealed container for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. It also keeps well frozen for up to 6 months. However, it will never taste as good if left on the countertop for extended periods because it begins to lose its flavor after about 2 weeks without refrigeration (although it will still work).

Make sure the bottle is upright and not upside down or left on its side for too long. It’s also important that there isn’t any damage or wears on the bottle itself, which could allow for mold growth inside it over time, which will affect its taste as well as its overall shelf life.

Related Questions

Is Cold Brew Okay if Not Refrigerated?

Yes, cold brew should be okay, not refrigerated. The reason is that the water and coffee grounds are suspended in the liquid, which is a very low-temperature environment. So, even though the coffee does not begin to warm up until it reaches room temperature, the water and coffee grounds are kept at a very low temperature throughout the day.

Can Old Cold Brew Make You Sick?

Cold-brew coffee cannot make you sick because it does not deteriorate like bread or bananas that slowly rot on your counter. If it goes past its expiration date, drinking it won’t make you sick.

What Happens if You Leave Iced Coffee Out?

If you leave the coffee out for more than a few hours, it loses its pleasant fragrance and tastes rancid, and it also acquires an off-putting bitter or sour taste.


If you leave cold-brew out at room temperature, you’ll likely have to throw it away after one week. It lasts about two weeks in the refrigerator. If you plan on making cold brew in large batches, divide the batch up into smaller containers and freeze them as soon as possible.