How Long Does Brewed Coffee Last?
When you brew coffee with anything other than a single serving machine, chances are you won’t get the portioning exactly right every time. You may be left with an extra cup or two of coffee that you aren’t quite ready to drink.
If that’s the case, you may want to save that coffee (especially if it's nice) for later, and are wondering just how long that brewed coffee will last. Well look no further, we’ve got everything you need to know right here!
First Things First
If you really want to enjoy your freshly brewed coffee, you should drink it as soon as possible. The quality and flavor of coffee declines quickly after brewing, so we highly recommend drinking it as soon as possible.
However, if you made too much or simply don’t feel like brewing another round of coffee later in the day, there are some ways to extend the life of that brewed cup of coffee--although we never recommend waiting until the next day.
Why Does Brewed Coffee Go Bad So Quickly?
The same process that makes coffee beans or ground coffee go bad also affects brewed coffee--only much faster. However, while coffee beans and grounds still have some cell structure to protect them from the air, brewed coffee does not. The oxidation that strips the aromas, flavors, and texture from coffee affects brewed coffee at a much faster rate.
This process can be worsened if you add creamer or milk to the coffee, as the coffee’s life is now reduced to the life of the added substance; in milk’s case, this is often as little as an hour or two. So if you plan on saving your coffee for later in the day, definitely do not add milk. The last thing you want is old milk giving you a stomach ache.
So How Long Is Brewed Coffee Actually Good For?
We’d like to mention again that “good” in this case is far from optimal. Even waiting a few hours can leave your coffee somewhat bland and tasteless. Waiting until the next day can leave it completely void of flavor.
The actual shelf life of brewed coffee depends on what you do with it after brewing.
If you leave a brewed cup of coffee out in an open container, it will only retain its full flavor profile for about 30 minutes. Yep, that’s right..30 Minutes. Now if you’re like most people, chances are you’ve waited far longer to drink your coffee.
That’s not a problem. The 30 minute mark really stands for when the full flavors and aromas of the coffee will begin to decline. If you’re not a coffee aficionado, chances are you won’t actually begin to notice the loss of flavor until a couple hours after brewing.
If you brew your coffee at home and plan on saving it for later in the day, the best way to do this is to put it in an airtight container--preferably a thermos to retain its heat. This is the best way to save coffee for later while keeping as much of its flavor profile as possible.
Coffee in a sealed container will not be impacted by oxidation as much as a coffee in an open container. If you put your morning coffee into a sealed container right after brewing, this coffee will still have most of its flavor profile even 2-4 hours after brewing. Again, this may not seem like much time at all but if you’re not a super experienced coffee drinker, you won’t likely notice much of a difference even a few hours beyond this.
Now if you’re really looking to maximize how long your coffee will last, putting it in an airtight container in the fridge is one option. Coffee in the fridge can last up to a couple days. Unfortunately, this will kill a lot of the flavors. Coffee left in a fridge, even in a sealed container, will quickly deteriorate in flavor. While it’ll certainly last longer than a cup left out in the open, it’ll be far from tasteful and you may actually find it quite bland.
The biggest drawback of using a fridge is that you’ll need to heat the coffee up when you plan on drinking it. You could use a stove top or microwave to do this, but both of these (especially the microwave) will destroy the flavor of the coffee. Add this to the fact that leaving it in the fridge for an extended period of time will strip some flavors and you’ll likely find that after heating it up, there’s no flavor left.
In all of these cases, it's important to note that as long as it’s black coffee (nothing added), coffee will remain safe to drink for up to a few weeks--It’ll just be completely flavorless.
How To Keep Your Brewed Coffee Fresh
If you really want to get the most out of your coffee, your best bet is to just brew a new batch each time you want to drink it. We know that this sometimes isn’t possible. Whether you’re going on a long road trip or simply won’t be somewhere you can make coffee later, you may need to prepare coffee ahead of time.
We recommend immediately sealing your brewed coffee in an airtight container with as little extra air in it as possible. The more empty space in the container, the more oxygen there will be to strip your coffee of flavor.
If you do plan on saving some coffee for the road, make sure you leave it black. Adding some sugar is ok, but definitely do not add any milk or cream.
What Should You Do With Your Leftover Coffee?
Like we mentioned above, if you really want to get the most from your coffee you should drink it as soon as possible after brewing. Sometimes you can’t help but make too much. If that’s the case, a fun thing to do with your leftover coffee is make coffee ice cubes. That's right, coffee ice cubes. It’s the coffee hack you didn’t know you needed.
Simply wait until the coffee is room temperature (or close to it), and pour the coffee into an ice cube tray. This way you can make iced coffee whenever you want without watering it down!
Now that you know just how long brewed coffee will last, it’s time to choose a premium coffee blend that is sure to impress. Here at Amora, we have blends designed for all types of coffee drinkers. Whether you prefer a bold, smoky blend or a balanced, fruity blend, we have what you need. Our premium coffee blends are crafted using a 9-step roasting process to maximize the flavors and aromas of our blends. Even better, we’ll ship the coffee right to your doorstep!