Cold brew coffee is a popular drink for coffee enthusiasts, and some even prefer it over a regular hot coffee. Though the coffee’s shelf life duration is something that people wonder about because it is different from other kinds of coffee. So how long does cold brew last?
As a general rule, cold brew coffee can last between 7 days to 2 weeks. Placing it in a refrigerator for extended periods will make it last longer. Moreover, keeping the coffee in an airtight container is also advisable as it helps prevent oxygen from oxidizing or degrading the coffee.
Keep reading to find out more about the shelf life of cold brew coffee and how to make it last longer.
A Quick Overview on Cold Brew Coffee
Cold brew is coffee that has been brewed at cold or room temperature rather than hot water. This results in a beverage with less acidity and bitterness. Coffee aficionados will usually add cream and sweeteners to help lessen the cold coffee bitterness.
Cold brew coffee is prepared by soaking coarsely ground coffee in cold or room temperature water for a long period of time. Some cold brew coffee recipes call for the ground coffee beans to be steeped in the water at cold or room temperature for up to 24 hours.
Why is Cold Brew Coffee a Better Choice than other Coffee Beverages?
There are a few good reasons why cold brew coffee is the preferred choice compared to other traditional coffee drinks.
- The caffeine content of a cold-brewed coffee is double that of a traditional iced coffee. The cold brewing for up to 24 hours creates an undiluted concentrate, whereas iced coffee is merely coffee poured over ice with less caffeine.
- The taste of hot coffee is unpredictable as it changes its flavor at different temperatures, but it is not the same as cold brew coffee. It has no change in taste, making it suitable for pre-packaging and ready-to-drink products easily available in coffee shops.
- You can also make cold brew at home. While most people prefer to buy ready-to-drink ones, they can be a bit pricey. You can brew it at home at half the price. Consider purchasing whole beans and making them at home. There is a variety of recipes on the internet. The process is not too complicated either, as long as you remember to steep cold brew coffee grounds for a total of 24 hours.
The popularity of cold brew coffee around the world is growing rapidly. And more coffee aficionados are brewing it at home. As the coffee is typically brewed in large batches, the question to ponder is how long can cold brew coffee last?
Shelf-Life of Fresh Cold Brew Coffee – How Long is it Good For?
As highlighted earlier, cold brew coffee can last between 7 days to 2 weeks. The estimated shelf life of the coffee depends on the temperature that it is stored, the level of dilution, and the type of additives added.
Coffee experts recommend storing cold brew coffee in the fridge. Storing it in the refrigerator will make it last up to 2 weeks, provided that the brew is still in its concentrated form. Still, the flavor will begin to spoil in approximately 2 hours at room temperature. And in a few hours, mold will have begun to form.
Diluting the cold brew coffee concentrate with water will affect its acidity and make it have a shorter shelf life. Cold brew with added water can only last 2-3 days if you keep it in the fridge. On the other hand, cold brew with added milk can only last up to 8 hours in the refrigerator.
The amazing thing about cold brew coffee is that it can last longer than your regular hot brewed coffee. The flavors from hot coffee typically start to degrade within half an hour of brewing, and the same goes for cold regular coffee. However, with a cold brew, you can prepare it once and enjoy it for days.
How Long is Cold Brewed Coffee Good for in the Fridge?
The most important thing to note here is that cold brew coffee can only last up to 2 weeks in the fridge if it is in its undiluted concentrated form. If you were to add on cream, milk, or sugar to your brew, the shelf life would be a lot less. Many people face this dilemma. They make the cold brew concentrate with added flavors for refrigeration to find that it has gone bad in only a few days.
Word of advice: it is always best to keep the coffee concentrate refrigerated as soon as it is brewed to keep it fresh. Home-brewed cold brew doesn’t have any preservatives and will spoil faster than store-bought ones containing preservatives. So, remember to refrigerate it as soon as it is brewed.
Generally, the refrigeration process encourages oxidation, which renders a chilled hot coffee into a more acidic one than it would have been while hot. Currently, cold brew methods keep in check much of this oxidation by totally removing the heat from the process.
However, even though you can enjoy cold brew for over 2 weeks if you keep it in the fridge, do note that the coffee flavors will start to degrade after the first week, which is unavoidable.
Will Stale Coffee Make You Sick?
Cold brew coffee may become stale, lose its flavor and aroma over time, but it will not make you sick. However, you are less likely to enjoy it as you did before. Remember not to drink homemade cold-brew coffee kept for more than two weeks, even if refrigerated.
How Do You Know if Cold Brew has Gone Bad?
Fresh coffee typically tastes bitter, and it may be difficult for beginner coffee drinkers to distinguish the difference. However, there are some tell-tale signs that we can watch out for to confirm that our cold brew has indeed gone bad.
1. Molds begin to form in your cold brew – look for the first signs of mold around the inside of the lid of the coffee maker or bottle. Check for mold on and inside the cold brew coffee. If you see any spot, do not drink the coffee! However, if it is free of mold, you can go ahead to Step 2 to taste it.
2. The cold brew coffee taste stale or rancid – this is a good indicator that the coffee has gone bad. The aroma and taste of coffee are an important part of what we look for in a fresh cup. However, for cold brew coffee, it is not possible to know if the coffee has expired by its aroma. It would be best if you tasted it. If your cold brew coffee tastes stale, it is probably not fresh.
How to Extend the Shelf Life of a Cold Brew?
Now that you know how long cold brew can last, it is time to learn how to extend its lifespan. As promised, here are six suggestions for making cold brew coffee last longer.
1. Choose Premium Quality Coffee Beans
High-quality coffee beans will help your cold brew last longer. Purchase your coffee beans from reputable manufacturers. It takes longer for a dark roast to degrade in a cold brew, so consider investing in some dark roast beans. Picking medium-to-dark roast beans will keep your coffee going strong for a long time.
2. Grinding the Whole Beans Coarser
Cold brewing requires the coffee grounds to be coarse as you are steeping the coffee in cold water for an extended period of time. Grinding the coffee beans too fine will cause over-extraction.
With coffee over-extraction, you will be left with weak coffee, and your coffee will not stay fresh as long as you expect it. It will also cause the ground coffee beans to clog up the filter and increase the chances of bacteria growth inside your cold brew coffee maker.
3. Make Cold Brew Ice Cubes
Another way to extend the shelf life of your cold brew coffee is to freeze it. Cold brew ice cubes can be stored in an airtight ice cube tray. This will allow you to have fresh cold brew coffee on hand for up to two weeks. When you want some, just put a few cubes into water or milk and let it melt and serve. You can also choose to put the cubes into other beverages.
4. Use Glass Storage Containers
You can extend the freshness of your cold brew coffee for a longer shelf life by properly storing it in glass airtight containers. Ensure the storage container is well sealed to keep it from absorbing any odors from the surrounding area. You can also store cold brew in large mason jars for an elegant touch.
While you can use plastic containers, it is not advisable due to the potential of the food odor getting transferred to your cold brew. Also, plastic containers are not airtight, which might lead to some unpleasant flavors.
5. Use Smaller Storage Containers for the Cold Brew Concentrate
Storing in small storage containers also helps extend the shelf life of cold brew coffee. This is because small containers have less air in contact with the coffee, and there is less opportunity for oxidation to take place and make the coffee lose its flavors. Small storage containers also mean less equipment and storage space, making the process more convenient and eco-friendly.
6. Add Cold Brew Preservatives
You may consider using preservatives to make your cold brew last longer. However, it is not really advisable to do so because preservatives are harmful to your health. The most common preservatives are artificial flavorings. They make your cold brew taste sweeter and help lessen the naturally bitter taste of coffee.
If you are still keen to use preservatives in your cold brew coffee, consider adding natural, preservative-free flavorings such as vanilla. In addition, you can use coffee sweeteners like stevia or sugar substitutes to lessen the bitterness of cold brew.
Knowing how long is cold brew coffee going to last is beneficial to anyone who brews this beverage at home. To keep it as fresh and long-lasting as possible, you should keep the cold brew in the fridge so that you can enjoy the cool beverage for up to 2 weeks. Do bear in mind that the cold brew will start to lose its flavor quality after the first week, but it’s still a better drink than any other soda, juice or coffee poured over ice you might find on the market. Coffee lovers can vouch for that!
If you plan to store the cold brew longer and have a long shelf life, make sure that it is stored in a completely sealed small container (bottled cold brew is fine too). Also, only use high-quality coffee beans and coarse grounds during the cold brewing process. Happy brewing!