There’s an end to everything on Earth, even the non-living things. And coffee, too, does not last forever. But what if you made a whole pot without knowing your guests don’t drink coffee? Or maybe you don’t have enough time to invest daily in making your morning drink before going to work?
Any intelligent person would think of making several cups of coffee and storing them in the refrigerator. After all, that was the reason behind its invention. As much as it sounds like a great idea, you cannot preserve it for a lifetime. Even in the cooling fridge, there’s a limited number of days before your coffee goes bad.
But how long does hot brewed coffee really last in the fridge? Well, if you keep it out in the kitchen, it’s only going to take several hours before the aroma vanishes. After that, the purpose of drinking coffee dies too. But brewed coffee, when kept in the fridge, can survive for a long time.
I can’t give a general answer to how long since it mainly depends on the type of coffee. So without any further ado, let’s dive in and find out!
Before going straight to brewed coffee, let’s talk about coffee beans first. Typically, industrially packaged food is free of air, which makes them stay fresh and last for longer. So if your pack of coffee beans is unopened, keeping them in the fridge will allow them to stay fresh for up to 2 to 3 years. Whereas, without the fridge, their freshness would last only six to nine months.
On the other hand, if the pack is opened, the beans are now exposed to the air. Hence, in the cupboard, you can store it for only six months. However, if you put it in the fridge, it can be stored for up to one or two years. In ideal situations, it is best to use them within a month of the roasting date.
Coffee grounds have a powder form, so a greater surface area is exposed. Therefore, the reaction between oxygen and moisture with the coffee compounds increases. This leads to the rapid loss of flavors and aroma from the coffee grounds.
Because fine grounds go bad more quickly, keeping them in the fridge rather than your cupboard is preferable. While you can store it for up to five months in the refrigerator, the kitchen pantry can only allow it to store for three months maximum. For maximum flavor and smoothness in your cup of coffee, try to finish them within one week of the roasting date.
Brewed coffee has the least amount of time before it expires. Generally, it loses its aroma and flavor after two hours. The situation, however, changes as you add in more milk, sugar, and extra flavors.
You can store your hot coffee in the fridge to prolong its taste, but make sure they are stored in an air-tight container. Black coffee, as compared to all the other types, can stay drinkable for the longest time. It will provide the best taste for up to two days of being stored in the fridge. However, it can last in the fridge for a total of two weeks.
Cold-brew follows slightly different circumstances since the normal serving temperature for it is very low. If you leave it on the counter, it will only last for 12 hours. However, when you properly store it in the refrigerator, it can last up to two weeks.
This is because the oxidation process of a cold brew is dissimilar to your regular brew. Though for optimal taste, it’s best to finish your coffee within the first week.
When you add milk or other related ingredients into your coffee, it changes its taste and the whole equation. Milk, as I know, can’t survive at room temperature for very long. So if your coffee has milk or cream to lower the acidity and bitterness, you better consume it quickly.
After some time, it can start turning sour, ruining your cup of coffee. Keeping it in the fridge doesn’t help much either, as it only adds a day or two before it expires. The taste doesn’t stay fresh either but if you decide to follow this method, be sure to reheat it. Otherwise, you’re putting your health at significant risk.
Pro Tips to Store Coffee for Longer
Here are a few tips to help you make your coffee last longer.
Use an Airtight Container
Brewed coffee goes bad when it oxidizes, which means a reaction with oxygen. An airtight container doesn’t mean your coffee will never expire since it’s impossible to keep all the air out. But it does prevent maximum freshness from escaping, thus increasing its lifetime.
Freeze Your Coffee
You can freeze a whole pot of coffee or pour it into the ice cube tray. Either way, you’re keeping it for an unlimited amount of time, but no doubt it can easily lose the flavor. Making iced coffee from the cubes would be the most efficient way of putting the cubes into use.
Defrosting the coffee pot is easy. Just move it in the fridge 24 hours before you want to drink it. It will turn into a liquid while maintaining the temperature.
I don’t claim that storing coffee in the refrigerator will have no impact whatsoever on its taste. But it’s always better than throwing an insane amount of drink into waste. If you plan on finishing the leftover coffee within 12 hours, it’s better to store it in the thermos rather than in the fridge.
You can also include it in your cooking or make a dessert out of it. Some people go even as far as mixing it in cocktails and enjoy a unique taste. Try all the different ways and see which method works the best for you.