The crazy heat waves so far this year have coffee drinkers swapping out their usual cuppa joe for a cold and refreshing brew. In fact, here's a question that's come up several times this week: how long does coffee last in the fridge? Coffee lovers, I feel you.
The crazy heat waves so far this year have coffee drinkers swapping out their usual cuppa joe for a cold and refreshing brew. In fact, here’s a question that’s come up several times this week: how long does coffee last in the fridge? Coffee lovers, I feel you.
I’d rather brew coffee fresh and ice it, but desperate times and all. Summer temperatures make me want to lay low with something chill on hand to sip. So I don’t blame people who truly love coffee for wanting to make life a little easier on a blistering hot day.
And cold coffee can still taste good for a while, if you store it properly. A good black coffee in an airtight container will retain most of its flavor in the fridge for at least two or three days. It all depends on how you brew it and what you add.
However, I don’t recommend reheating brewed coffee if it’s been in the fridge. Once it’s cold, brewed coffee should stay cold to preserve whatever flavors still remain. If you want hot coffee, it is better to just brew a fresh pot.
With that said, let’s take a closer look at keeping your java fresh in cold storage. How long does coffee last in the fridge, realistically?
Overview: How Long Does Coffee Last in the Fridge?
So, how long DOES coffee last in the fridge? The answer isn’t quite as cut and dried as you might think. It depends on your method of brewing, the coffee and water you use and what kinds of additives (like dairy and sugar) you put in your brew.
At any rate, there are a few things you should and shouldn’t do when it comes to putting coffee in the fridge. For example, storing whole beans and coffee grounds in the fridge is a no-no. However, leftover brewed coffee can be a great shortcut to a delicious iced coffee later.
And that’s only one reason to store brewed coffee in the fridge. It’s super easy to grab and pour up a glass of fresh iced coffee whenever the mood strikes. In addition, it saves on wasting that leftover coffee in the pot.
In that respect, it’s important to know the answer to how long does coffee last in the fridge. That is, unless you want to accidentally drink a science project in the making!
To start, let’s go over some different scenarios to see what affects the shelf life of coffee in the fridge. Firstly, strong black coffee will always last longer in the fridge than a chilled brewed coffee with additives like milk and sugar.
In addition to that, you should always store brewed coffee in an airtight container. Doing this helps prevent coffee oxidation and keeps your brewed coffee good for longer.
One scenario I’m not going to cover is chilling instant coffee. I’m not overly interested in how long instant coffee lasts in the fridge; the flavor is just not the same as coffee brewed with a drip coffee maker. I can’t imagine it tasting any good, either.
You really need good whole roasted coffee beans to make an exceptional chilled beverage. That means your base will be fresh tasting coffee with the longest shelf life.
Using old coffee that’s been sitting in the bottom of a coffee pot isn’t ideal, either. The coffee taste has already begun breaking down from sitting around too long.
That’s why when I mention coffee in this post, I’m talking about brewed coffee from fresh coffee grounds. So what’s the best method for storing coffee to keep the brewed coffee good as long as possible? Let’s take a look.
Cold Brew Coffee
First off, how long does coffee last in the fridge if it’s cold brewed? The fast answer here is one to two weeks. But why the wide time span? I’m glad you asked.
Brewing coffee as a cold brew is super easy, but time consuming. It can take up to a day to brew, but it’s totally worth it. Incidentally, if you’re interested in this brew method, check out my cold brew coffee maker guide 2023 for inspiration.
You make cold brew with coarsely ground coffee, similar to what you’d use with a French press. Cold brew coffee tastes very different from a hot coffee brew; if you’ve never tried it, you’re missing out!
With that said, it’s best to make your cold brew coffee as a concentrate. A concentrate will last the longest and preserve the rich flavor. When pouring it into a tall glass with ice on a hot day, the ice cubes add the water you need to make it a proper chilled brew.
However, if you don’t much like ice in your drink, you can still brew it as a concentrate and prepare it with water for a ready to drink coffee refresher. Remember, though, that adding water will shorten the shelf life of your fresh coffee to about seven days.
Intrigued? Check out my blog post on how to make cold brew coffee. There are some pretty darn tasty recipes to try out!
Next up, how long does coffee last in the fridge if it’s iced? The first thing we should consider is how to make iced coffee. It’s different from cold brew, and a much faster process.
In a nutshell, iced coffee is freshly brewed, strong hot coffee poured over ice. The trick is to start with fresh coffee beans, then chill it super fast to preserve the rich aroma.
That said, don’t brew directly over ice; you’ll lose flavor that way. My favorite way is hot water and a French press, using a little more ground coffee than I would for a hot cup of joe. That said, there are tons of awesome solutions in my iced coffee maker guide 2023.
I like to brew iced coffee by the glass. In general, though, brewed coffee can last in the fridge up to a week.
It should be stored as black coffee, so you don’t have anything shortening the shelf life of your drink. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you to not put a hot fresh pot of coffee into the fridge. Let it cool a bit, then transfer to an airtight container for storage.
Speaking of “iced” coffee, another cool idea (see what I did there?) is to freeze extra brewed coffee in an ice cube tray. Freezing coffee in ice cube trays can extend the shelf life to about two weeks.
The pro to this is you waste less brewed coffee; the con is freezing affects coffee in a negative way. So, the thawed coffee cubes may not have a strong flavor profile.
For this reason, you should use up your coffee ice cubes as soon as possible. Try combining them with milk in a blender for an iced coffee treat. Or, you can simply use them as ice cubes for your next freshly brewed iced coffee.
Coffee With Milk
Another important question to ask is how long does coffee last in the fridge if you’re storing coffee with milk added to it?
Well, we know that black coffee can last about a week. Milk, on the other hand, has a whole host of different properties that can cause the brewed coffee to break down even faster.
If you prepare your chilled coffee (iced or cold brew) and add milk to store it ready to drink, your lovely brewed coffee with milk will last only one to two days. You also have to take into account the expiration date of the dairy, or else you may risk a case of food poisoning.
In short, it’s probably best to add milk to an iced coffee or cold brew when you’re ready to serve it up. That way, the brewed coffee stays fresh for as long as possible.
Coffee Beans and Grounds
It’s equally important to mention here why storing ground coffee and coffee beans in the fridge may not be a great idea.
While it may be fine to store brewed coffee in the fridge, I firmly believe that you should never put whole beans or ground coffee in cold storage.
The reasoning behind this is that the moisture and humidity inside a refrigerator can cause mold to grow and aroma and flavor to break down. That goes double for ground coffee.
Not only that, since coffee is porous it tends to absorb other odors. Imagine your coffee beans taking on a broccoli aroma, or even worse, feta cheese!
In short, the fridge is no place for any self-respecting coffee bean.
So getting back to the original question, how long does coffee last in the fridge in terms of beans and grounds? It can last a while if it’s never opened, but it’s gonna taste like broken promises. Zero out of ten, I don’t recommend.
Ever accidentally brewed with old coffee beans? It’s like that. Coffee should be stored in a cool, dry and dark place to preserve its lovely flavor and aroma. While you’re at it, consider purchasing a good coffee storage container.
If you’d like to read more on the proper ways to store your whole bean coffee and ground coffee, check out my post on how to store coffee beans.
Verdict: How Long Does Coffee Last in the Fridge?
To sum up, brewed coffee does indeed last in the fridge. How long it will stay fresh depends on how you brew and whether you’ve added milk or sweetener. For instance, coffee with milk will only last about one to two days, brewed coffee can last up to a week and a concentrated cold brew can go as long as two weeks.
Keep in mind that all coffee breaks down over time and will become acidic or taste stale. The last thing you want to do is take a nice refreshing sip of rancid coffee.
To combat this, be sure your refrigerated coffee is stored properly inside the best airtight container you can find. And I probably don’t need to tell you to drink it as quickly as you can!
Still have questions about how long does coffee last in the fridge? Need some clarification on best practices for cold storing brewed coffee? Drop your thoughts and questions in the comment section below. I’d be happy to help you out!
How Long Does Coffee Last in the Fridge FAQ?
There are several things you can do with leftover coffee that doesn’t include pouring it down the drain. You can use it in chocolate cake mix to boost the chocolate flavor, make frozen coffee cubes for your cold brew, bring out the spices in Mexican mole recipes and chili or even water your coffee-loving plants.
Cold brew coffee can last up to two weeks in the fridge if it’s brewed as a concentrate and stored properly. However, if you add water to the concentrated cold brew it will shorten the keep time to about two to four days.
Generally, it’s not a good idea to store beans or coffee grounds in the fridge. Dry coffee needs to stay dry in order to stay fresh. Otherwise, the moisture introduced from the cold will cause the beans and grounds to start breaking down.
The best way to store coffee in the fridge is to brew it cold or use a coffee maker to brew it hot. Allow hot coffee to cool a little, then store your brewed coffee in an airtight container in the fridge. Black coffee will keep for one to two weeks in a chilled environment, although the flavor will break down as the days go by. Coffee beans shouldn’t go in the fridge or freezer.