How Long is Coffee Good After Brewing?
Make Sure It's Good to the Last Drop!
Coffee - the most awesome way to start the day! With its delicious aroma and taste, it is sure to put a smile even on the sleepiest face. There is just something so pleasing and comforting about it, and millions of us couldn’t be without our morning cup of joe.
Let's explore more about brewing coffee, and specifically, how long is coffee good after brewing? Because as coffee lovers, we want to know how best to enjoy its' wonderful taste and aroma, right to the last drop!
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How Long is Coffee Good After Brewing – The Quick Answer
Brewed coffee should not be kept for more than a day when left at room temperature, and ideally should be consumed within about 12 hours. However, you'll notice that once your cup of coffee has cooled, the taste will start to change...about 30 minutes is the turning point. After about 4 hours, the oils in the coffee will start to go bad and that will alter the taste, also.
If you are storing it in the refrigerator, it will last about 3 days. It’s not necessarily because it goes bad, but you will not benefit from the fresh aroma and taste, or indeed the antioxidant qualities if left any longer.
Coffee Oxidation and Freshness
As with most natural produce, coffee goes through a process of oxidation once it has been brewed. It will start to degrade almost at once, but this isn’t really noticeable for at least 30 minutes. Why does this occur? Once coffee beans touch air, coffee flavor and smell start to degrade as solubles start to oxidize, similar to iron becoming rusty when it's exposed to oxygen for too long.
After this time you may realize that it has started to lose its lovely fresh-brewed aroma and taste.
But the reality is that most of us won’t even notice this as we take our first sip when it’s super-fresh, and then each subsequent mouthful is savored in the same way. It’s only if you are someone that takes their time...quite a long time...to drink a cup of coffee that you may start to notice a difference in the taste.
If you leave your coffee to cool down and drink it later in the day you will really notice a change in flavor and aroma. It will taste kind of flat and stale and won’t give you that wonderful feeling that the freshly brewed stuff does. So only brew it when you are ready to drink it to enjoy your coffee at its very best.
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How to Keep Brewed Coffee Fresher for Longer
How long is coffee good after brewing? You might be surprised to learn that it is, in part, affected by what you do before you even push the 'brew' button!
- Use whole coffee beans and grind them yourself for that ultimate fresh flavor and smell. Coffee beans should always be kept in a totally airtight container so they stay as fresh as possible.
- Purchase your coffee in bags with special valves that keep oxygen out and the flavor in. Store it in a dark, cool, and dry environment to ensure you maintain its freshness.
- Once brewed, drink it right away, or remove it from the heat source and place it into an airtight thermos.
- Or, as soon as it goes cold put it in the fridge in an airtight container, where it will last up to a week. Oor better still, in the freezer. You can make ice cubes from your chilled coffee to enjoy as an iced coffee later on.
The good news is, airtight containers for storing your fresh, whole coffee beans are not expensive. Most of us average joes (pun intended 🙂 ) can afford one. Here are a few examples:
Can Brewed Coffee Go Bad?
As mentioned before, your coffee will go through a process of oxidation after it has been brewed, and also if not stored correctly.
If you have ever left coffee grounds sitting in your pot or filter for awhile and forgot to empty them, you may have seen that mold started to grow. The coffee you have made from those grounds would take quite a long time to become hazardous to drink, but treat it with the respect it deserves by discarding that old stuff, and brewing a nice, fresh pot. Then you will have no worries.
Whole coffee beans that have been roasted should be kept in an airtight container. Any moisture or damp that gets to them will eventually encourage mold growth, which could give you a bit of a dodgy tummy but nothing too sinister. That's why storing your fresh whole bean coffee in a dark, airtight container is so important.
The other thing to consider is the loss of antioxidants when coffee is left to oxidize. As one of the best antioxidant-containing food sources there is, why would you want to lose all of those wonderful properties which do our bodies so much good? So be sure to take advantage of this great natural offering and go fresh every time!
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How to Keep Coffee Fresh Before Brewing
It’s all in the storage. Well, and making sure you purchase good quality coffee beans to start with of course! As touched on before, always make sure you buy your coffee in specially sealed bags. You can identify these by their small valves which give you the most incredible smell of their contents, but they are a clever one-way device that makes sure no air gets in and damages the goods.
Whether brewing with whole coffee beans or ground coffee, make sure you do not store it in a bright or damp place. Should you keep your whole coffee beans or ground coffee cold? There are definitely two philosophies about storing it in the fridge or freezer. Some coffee lovers have found that as long as it is in a totally airtight container, it works really well in the freezer. Just use it as you need it, returning the rest straight back to the freezer when finished.
If you do not have a big enough freezer compartment, you can store it in the fridge if you feel your environment isn’t conducive to freshness. But be sure to keep it tightly sealed and use within 2 weeks.
Here is a handy guide for knowing how long your precious coffee beans will remain at their best:
Quick Reference Guide: How Long Do Coffee Beans Stay Fresh
Green Coffee Beans
If you're a DIY home coffee roaster and purchase green coffee beans, they can last up to 1 year in a dark and dry environment.
Roasted Coffee Whole Bean
Your whole bean coffee can stay fresh for several months if it is stored properly, always airtight, in a cool, dark, dry environment.
Freshly Ground Coffee
Ideally, grind just enough whole bean coffee for the brew you are making, and store the remaining whole beans as noted above. This will give you the very best taste, aroma, and overall coffee-drinking experience. If you must grind and then store, use them within 1 week for the best taste.
If you store your pre-ground coffee in the pantry it should last about 3 to 5 months.
Other Uses for Brewed Coffee
So apart from refrigerating or freezing leftover black coffee, what else can we do with it? Well here are some ingenious ideas:
- Add it to a smoothie mid-afternoon to give you a little perk of energy to see you through the rest of the day. Coffee and tahini is a velvety, tasty dream! If you are feeling like a domestic goddess, you could even try your hand at making a tiramisu with the leftover coffee.
- Give your hair a treat and soak it in your leftover black coffee to add some beautiful brunette tones and great condition to your lustrous locks. Coffee makes a great hair dye on par with a henna rinse. Also, the antioxidants in the coffee will provide your hair with great condition and shine. Not advisable for light blondes as it could turn your hair into a dull mousey-brown mess! Works great on greying brunettes though.
- Another use for leftover black coffee is as a plant feed. As coffee is acidic you would have to dilute it well with water and make sure you put it on plants that prefer acidic soil like azaleas and rhododendrons. Just don’t use coffee that has had milk or sugar added to it or this may cause major bug problems and probably create fungus!
- Why not try using leftover black coffee is as a natural wood stain? You can collect up your leftovers and experiment with home projects to see what color effects you can achieve. Probably advisable for internal use rather than external to avoid it washing away and fading in the rain!
Well, it’s all a matter of taste! If you are someone who relishes the different regional roasts and is a bit of a coffee connoisseur, then I would say ‘absolutely not’! But it is all down to the individual. It won’t kill you, but it will lack all of its splendor when not freshly brewed and consumed straight away.
As a thermos is airtight, it will stay fresh for most of the day, but of course as you drink your way through it, air is being introduced every time you take a cup. This will cause the coffee to oxidize and lose its original freshness and taste.
Coffee with milk will spoil very quickly, especially at room temperature. The milk will start to turn as well as the coffee losing its wonderful properties. It is, therefore, best to discard any coffee with milk after a couple of hours.
Ideally, brewed coffee should be consumed right' away. Any brewed coffee left over can be stored in a totally airtight container in the fridge for a max of 3 days. If put in the freezer, it should be frozen as soon as it cools and used within 2 weeks to be enjoyed at its 'almost best'.
So, to answer the question, how long is coffee good after brewing, to drink coffee at its very best, and to benefit from the incredible antioxidant profile that it offers, the golden rule is to brew and drink it fresh every time before it has a chance to totally cool off. Of course, there will always be times when we get busy, distracted, or caught off-guard and our beloved cup of joe goes cold, in which case there are the other options.
But most importantly, make sure you always source good quality coffee, be sure to check the use-by date, and always store it correctly to continue enjoying this wonderfully comforting and pleasing gift from nature’s very own pantry!
Candi Randolph is a coffee lover, blogger, and content creator who loves to share her knowledge with the coffee-drinking world. You'll often find her tending to her coffee bar at home, deciding which method to use to brew her next cup of java. Life is full of important decisions.