Does Cold Brew Need to be Refrigerated? Unlocking the Truth

Does Cold Brew Need to be Refrigerated?

If you enjoy drinking cold brew coffee, you probably wonder, does cold brew need to be refrigerated? Yes! As the name goes, you should keep it cold by refrigerating it; keeping your cold brew coffee at room temperature after brewing will spoil it within hours.

In this guide, we’ll explain how to keep your cold brew coffee fresh, extend its shelf life, and answer some of your frequently asked questions. Let’s dive in.

Cold brew coffee with milk

How Long Does Cold Brew Last in the Fridge?

Generally, according to coffee experts, cold brew coffee can stay in the refrigerator for one to two weeks. This concentrated version of coffee starts to lose its flavor quality and caffeine level after the first week. If you are keen enough, you might notice a strange smell from coffee that has stayed longer in the fridge. If it smells bad or tastes sour, it’s almost certainly spoiled.

There are several variables that cause the decreased cold brew coffee shelf life. These factors consist of the type of container you use, how much you dilute, and the storage temperature. You may enjoy your coffee’s flavor and smoothness longer if you brew and store it properly.

Can Cold Brew Go Bad?

The answer is yes! Like other perishable foods, cold brew coffee can go bad if you let it stay at room temperature for longer. The best way to boost the shelf life of your cold brew is by storing it in a refrigerator immediately after brewing.

“Fresher is always better,” just like when brewing coffee using coffee beans. Yes, you can put any leftover coffee in the refrigerator. But avoid making it a habit since your cold brew loses taste and flavor as days pass. Knowing how long your cold brew can last should help you recognize the telltale signs that your favorite brew has gone bad. 

Such signs include:

  • A faint aroma
  • Noticeably less flavor
  • No caffeine kick
  • High acidic taste
  • Presence of mold or a foul odor

Is There a Difference in the Shelf Life of Homemade vs. Store-Bought Cold Brew?

Certainly yes! While store-bought cold brew coffee has a shelf life of approximately six months if kept unopened, homemade cold brew coffee, on the other hand, has a shelf life of up to fourteen days.

How Long Does Cold Brew Last Unrefrigerated?

If left unrefrigerated, cold-brew coffee can last between 16 and 18 hours. Whether or not the coffee has undergone pasteurization and contains milk or sugar will determine how it tastes. You can leave cold brew coffee on your countertop with water and coffee grounds at room temperature for as long as eighteen hours.

It is better to take cold brew coffee immediately after opening a bottle or pouring it from a pitcher before it warms up. This guarantees the greatest flavors and eliminates the chance of spoiling.

Making cold brew coffee

How to Extend the Shelf Life of Cold Brew

The easiest way to keep cold brew coffee fresh for longer is to store it properly. Glass is the best container, although plastic will also work. Because plastic is porous, flavorful ingredients may oxidize more quickly. Additionally, some of the compounds in plastic impact the taste of coffee.

Glass containers have no chemicals that may interfere with the flavor quality of your coffee. Also, most glass containers have airtight seals. For fridge storage, mason jars or coffee press beakers are excellent choices.

In fact, you can freeze cold brew coffee and keep it for an extended period. Remember that freezing can alter certain chemical substances and flavors. Doing this, it can stay up to two months without going bad. Here are some tips to help you extend your cold brew’s shelf life:

Type of Storage Container

As the name says, oxygen is what causes oxidation. You can keep coffee fresher longer if you restrict the air in contact with it. The best way to accomplish this is to put your freshly brewed coffee in an airtight container.

Usually, most people use completely sealed mason jars, although other glass containers also function well. You may also create and store your cold brew using a French press. A glass container works best for the cold brew procedure and subsequent storage because it will keep the mixture fresh without affecting its flavor.

Choose the Right Temperature

Food and drink can spoil or become moldy due to molecular-level enzyme breakdown. These enzymes slow down in cooler temperatures; this prolongs your cold brew’s shelf life.

Although coffee does not always remain fresh, keeping it in the refrigerator at the right temperature will increase its shelf life. Also, you can keep it in a freezer to keep it even cooler and fresher for longer.

Use High-Quality Coffee

Storage is essential, but real coffee specialists know that the coffee’s freshness depends on the type of beans used for brewing. When brewing cold brew, look for recognized brands like Starbucks, Caribou, or La Colombe and contrast their grounds’ shelf lives because this will affect how long coffee lasts.

Whole coffee beans have a longer shelf life, but once they get ground, time runs out.

The ideal course of action is to use the coffee grinds as soon as possible for brewing and then, immediately after, to keep the coffee in a glass container in the refrigerator.

Dilution When Prepared

Even a small cup of cold brew contains a lot of caffeine, but you may make it more drinkable by adding additional plain water while making cold brew. It’s vital to consider the water ratio because the more diluted your cold brew is, the sooner it will go bad.

Making concentrated cold brew in smaller amounts and keeping it in storage for longer is usually preferable. A large quantity of cold brew diluted is excellent for drinking immediately but won’t survive as long.

Some Reader Questions Answered

Do You Need a Cold Brew Coffee Maker for Cold Brew?

For brewing this excellent beverage, you don’t need a cold brew coffee maker. There are various techniques for making it. Simple mason jars, French presses, Aeropress, or filters are all great for cold brew. Nonetheless, plenty of coffee makers are made specifically for brewing cold brews if you want to purchase a coffee maker.

Do I Have to Steep Cold Brew in the Fridge?

No, making a cold brew does not require steeping coffee grounds in the refrigerator. Simply carry it out at room temperature. Letting your cold brew steep in the fridge longer than at room temperature would be best.

How Long Should I Steep My Cold Brew?

Whether you are brewing at room temperature or in the refrigerator will determine how long you should steep your cold brew. Nonetheless, this shouldn’t worry you since you don’t need to nail it down to an exact minute. Although 16 hours is ideal for your cold brew to steep at room temperature, anywhere between 14 and 18 hours should work just fine. 

Many people typically prepare it in the evening and then drink it in the morning when they wake. After all, it depends on your preferences and how potent you like your coffee. If you let your coffee steep for over 20 hours, you will notice some unpleasant woody overtones as you approach the 24-hour mark.

Simply add a little more dilution, either water or milk, if you prefer a more robust and bolder flavor profile over longer coffee steeping times. However, a lengthy steep of about 20 hours will be optimal if you steep your coffee in the refrigerator.

Does Adding Sugar, Cream, or Milk Determine the Shelf Life of Cold Brew?

The answer is yes. Adding anything to your cold brew coffee concentrate, including milk, cream, sugar, or plain water, will shorten its shelf life. The best thing is to keep the cold brew on hand, and when you’re ready to drink, just add what you need to your glass. Always make additions right before drinking your coffee!

Cold brew coffee on wooden table

Final Verdict

In conclusion, cold brew coffee is a great “pick-me-up” if you consume it on time. It is preferable to keep cold brew coffee in the refrigerator from the beginning, even though you can let it stay at room temperature, and then place the jar or pitcher straight into your refrigerator. This guarantees the greatest flavors and eliminates the chance of spoiling.

Also, remember that using the proper coffee-to-water ratio is crucial for optimal flavor. To get the best cold brew, use premium coffee beans and allow the brewing process enough time to extract flavor.

With a higher caffeine content and a significantly longer anticipated shelf life than standard brew coffee, homemade cold brew coffee stays fresh in refrigerator storage longer. Ensure you store it in the refrigerator in airtight containers.

You should be able to safely enjoy your cold brew for around a week. Check it after a week to ensure there aren’t any indicators mentioned above of spoiling and that it doesn’t smell, taste, or look moldy. It would be best to dilute leftover coffee for longer than two weeks, pour it on plants, or throw it out because it is no longer fit for human consumption.