How Long Does Cold Brew Last? Discover How to Make It Well & Enjoy It Longer

how long does cold brew last

Last Updated on December 6, 2022

Cold brew coffee is a delicious and simple way to make your own coffee at home, and coffee lovers everywhere are discovering the joys of this less acidic, smooth, creamy cold coffee.

It’s also more economical than buying it from the store or cafe. Your brew needs to be stored properly, though, or the cold brew could go bad quickly. So, how long does cold brew last, anyway?

how long does cold brew coffee last?

The good news is that making and storing cold brew correctly will help keep it fresh for longer. We’ll share some tips on how to do this in our post.

First we’ll talk about why cold brew lasts longer than hot brewed coffee, then we’ll give you some simple instructions on how to make your own cold-brewed coffee at home using a French press or another type of container.

Then we’ll cover what you need to know about the shelf life of cold brew, so you’ll know how to store it so that it stays tasty until you’re ready drink it up!

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What is Cold Brew Coffee?

Cold brew coffee is coffee that has been brewed at cold or room temperature rather than hot water. It’s also known as “cold press” and it results in a smooth, less acidic cup of joe.

The reason cold brew coffee tastes different has to do with the way the coffee beans are ground for this method. When you grind beans for hot brewed coffee, the water will seep through them more quickly. This can lead to an over extraction that results in a bitter taste.

Cold brew coffee, on the other hand, uses coarsely ground coffee beans that let the water come into contact with them for a longer period of time during brewing. The result is less acidity and bitterness.

One very important fact is that cold brew uses a higher coffee to water ratio than other brewing methods, so you’ll want to dilute the brew to drink it straight up unless you’ve taken that into consideration from the get-go and are making a ready-to-drink brew. More about that in a minute.

How is Cold Brew Coffee Made?

how is cold brew coffee made?

Making cold brew coffee is simple. All you need to do is combine water with coarsely ground coffee in a French press or mason jar (or similar), and let it sit at room temperature for 8-24 hours. Many cold brew aficionados will tell you that 16 hours is the sweet spot for steeping.

If using a French press, place the cover on but don’t press down the plunger yet.

If using a container, place a piece of cheesecloth or other light covering over it.

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When ready, press down the plunger on your French press (and consider straining it once again through a coffee filter) and your cold brew concentrate is ready.

If you’re steeping in a mason jar or other type of container, you’ll want to strain the brew to remove the grounds. Strain it through the cheesecloth that has been covering your container.

Or, you might consider cold brew filter bags which make the process ever so much easier and less of a mess:

A couple of tips first that will help you brew the best tasting cold brew coffee:

1) Use a quality, whole bean coffee and grind it yourself just prior to starting the brewing process. The grind should be coarse to extra-coarse for the best result. You can certainly use pre ground coffee but it’s not as fresh as whole coffee beans, freshly ground. It really is worth the time and effort to put those little beans through a coffee grinder, no matter the brewing method!

2) Get the ratio of water to coffee correct. And…it’s a personal preference so there is not one ‘perfect’ ratio. Here are a couple of starting points to use:

  • A ready-to-drink cold brew will take a ratio of 1:8 coffee to water, and the steep time could be up to 24 hours.
  • If a cold brew concentrate is what you’re after, use a 1:4 ratio. This brew will usually be diluted with water, milk, and/or ice.

What is the Best Way to Store Cold Brew Coffee?

discover how to make and store cold brew coffee

The best way to store cold brew coffee is to keep it:

  • in a container,
  • in it’s concentrated form,
  • with a lid that is airtight,
  • in the refrigerator.

This will increase it’s shelf life and reduce degradation.

The types of containers that work well for storing cold brew coffee are glass mason jars or plastic containers with screw-on lids, which you can buy at any store. Keep in mind, though, that some types of plastic can interact with the coffee concentrate, so your best solution is a glass container.

Just remember that your goal is to limit the cold brew’s exposure to light, and to air. This will slow down the oxidation and deterioration of the product and help keep it fresher longer.

How Long Does Cold Brew Last?

There are some variables that affect how long cold brew coffee will last. In general, once you’ve made your cold brew, it should be stored in the airtight container for about 7 days and up to two weeks.

Once you reach that two week mark, though, it is best to discard any remaining cold brew coffee concentrate.

Bear in mind that once you dilute your concentrated cold brew, it will last no more than 2 or 3 days.

How to Tell if Your Batch of Cold Brew Coffee has Gone Bad

How long does cold brew last? There are some indicators that will tell you it’s time to discard your cold brew. They include:

  • a change in color of the coffee, either deep amber or brownish-red.
  • you’ve lost the kick of the caffeine
  • An unusual taste to the cold brew that is very acidic – this is a good indicator that it is time to let it go!
  • An odor that is sour, rancid, or woody smelling will tell you to pitch the remaining brew

Is Cold Brew Better for You than Hot Coffee?

The jury is still out on this question, but some people think so. In general, cold brew has lower caffeine than hot coffee because of more caffeine is extracted when coffee is brewed with hot water.

Both processes, hot and cold brew, produce a beverage that is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents.

Since the cold brew process involves using cold water, some of the acidity and caffeine is lost during the brewing time. This is part of what gives cold brew coffee a longer shelf life than hot coffee.

The flavor of cold brew coffee is generally described as being less acidic than that of hot coffee, and many people prefer its bolder yet smooth and creamy taste.

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How to Make Your Batch of Cold Brew Last Longer

how to make your batch of cold brew last longer

There are several things you can do to help keep your cold brew fresher longer:

1) Choose premium quality coffee beans

You can never go wrong with fresh roasted beans.  Look for beans that were roasted within the last month and don’t stock up on cans of pre-ground coffee, as it loses its flavor quickly no matter where you store it.

2) Grind your coffee more coarsely

You’ll want to make sure that a coarse to extra-coarse grind is used to make your cold brew.  It makes the mixture stronger and easier to strain and results in a less bitter and more flavorful brew.

3) Store your coffee in glass containers

Stainless steel is okay, although glass is preferred because it’s inert and won’t react with anything inside your jar or bottle. Plastic may be used as well, though you’ll want to avoid bottles made from polycarbonate.  

4) Store your cold brew in smaller containers 

Each time you open the jar or bottle, you’ll let in air.  The less air exposure, the longer your cold brew will last.

5) Store your cold brew in ice cube form

Ice cubes are a great way to keep your cold brew waiting for use. When you’re ready to enjoy a cup, just pull a couple of cubes from the freezer.

Sum It Up: How long does cold brew last?

Cold brew coffee is a great way to enjoy your favorite caffeinated beverage, and we hope this post has given you the confidence to make cold brew at home.

We’ve covered the basics of what cold brew is and how you can make it at home with a few simple steps. And, you have the skinny on the life of cold brew.

Now that you know all about this tasty beverage, go ahead and try making some for yourself!