So you’ve brewed yourself a fresh cup of hot coffee, only to find yourself pulled into the rush of daily life, and you’re unable to enjoy it.
Or maybe you’re looking to brew a cup of coffee now, cool it off in the fridge, and enjoy a nice iced coffee later in the afternoon.
Perhaps you brewed too much coffee, more than you’ll be able to drink today.
But once you’ve brewed a cup of coffee, what’s the best way to store it so it stays fresh and doesn’t spoil? Can you throw it in the fridge to be used tomorrow?
What about next week? How long does coffee last in the fridge before it goes bad, and how can you even tell that your coffee is expired in the first place?
We’re always looking for ways to make our coffee taste better, and that includes storing it properly so it lasts longer.
Keep reading as we go through the do’s and don’ts of storing coffee in your fridge, how to keep it fresher longer, and the impact drinking old coffee can have on your health.
How Long Is Coffee Good for in the Fridge?
Believe it or not, there is actually a lot of debate on how long coffee is good for in the fridge. So what’s the verdict?
Well, unfortunately, there’s no definitive answer. It all depends on how you store your coffee and how fresh it is when you put it in the fridge, as well as the kind of coffee and how you brewed it.
We say the general rule is that coffee stored in the fridge will last about 3 to five days in the fridge, but it can last longer, up to two weeks, if stored in an airtight container and chilled properly.
How Can You Tell if Your Coffee Is Expired?
Black coffee can last a long time if it’s stored properly, but there are some tell-tale signs that it has gone bad. If it smells like cardboard or has a sour taste, then the oxygen in the air has gotten to it and caused it to become more acidic.
Also, if the coffee is a different color than it used to be or has started to form mold, it’s definitely time to toss it.
You may also notice that the black coffee seems thicker than it used to be, or that sediment from the coffee grounds has settled to the bottom of the container, while the top seems watery. If it’s old enough, the natural oils in the coffee may even start to separate from the water and go rancid (gross).
Remember, it’s more important to trust your gut if you’re unsure, and toss the coffee if you have doubts about its shelf life.
We can tell you how long coffee can last in the fridge, but if the color or smell of the coffee seems off to you, then it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Can You Get Sick From Drinking Old Coffee?
So, if you do end up drinking coffee that’s been stored in your refrigerator, only to realize that the taste or smell is off and it’s likely expired, do you have reason to worry? Well, yes and no.
The good news is, that coffee beans don’t really “go bad” in the way that bread grows mold or a banana slowly rots on your countertop. Only drinking expired, brewed coffee can cause symptoms such as nausea—not the coffee beans themselves.
The main thing to note is that if you start drinking expired coffee, you’re going to notice. The taste alone will likely keep you from drinking a full cup.
If you drink coffee that’s been sitting in the fridge for too long, you likely won’t get sick, past some mild indigestion, but you also won’t love the taste or texture of the coffee, either.
How Can You Store Your Coffee in the Fridge to Last Longer?
We get it: we hate wasting coffee, too, so we understand the urge to save your coffee pot until next time.
But it’s so important to make sure the brewed coffee is stored properly, to avoid it spoiling and causing more trouble in the long run than simply tossing it out.
Here are a few do’s and don’ts to help you keep your coffee fresher, and longer:
DO: Store the coffee in an airtight container. This will keep the coffee from absorbing any odors from the fridge, as well as keep it from being contaminated by any dust or germs inside the refrigerator.
DON’T: Store coffee with any milk or creamer added. After you’ve added products like milk or creamer to your coffee, it’s best to drink it within a couple of hours. It’s much more likely to go bad quickly if you try to store it in the fridge, and drinking expired coffee with milk added can make you sick.
DO: Drink your coffee as soon as you can. While coffee can last several days in the refrigerator before the taste and smell start to go off, it’s better to drink the coffee as soon as you can to keep it from expiring, if your goal is to keep from wasting your brewed coffee pot.
DON’T: Store iced coffee in the fridge without taking the ice out. Ice can and will melt in the refrigerator, so iced coffee will quickly become watered down and not as strong as it used to be. If you plan on storing your iced coffee, be sure to filter the ice out, store the coffee in an airtight container, and then add fresh ice when you go to drink it.
Can You Freeze Coffee to Make It Last Longer?
Keeping your coffee fresh for a few days in an airtight container is one thing, but what if you want to keep it for even longer? You may be wondering if freezing your coffee will keep it fresher. And the answer is, well, sort of.
Freezing coffee may not be the best choice for everyone, and it depends on what you want to do with your coffee.
Taste is always subjective, but you may find that the flavor of frozen coffee feels weaker or stale, especially if you’ve stored it in an open container that allowed the coffee to be exposed to oxygen.
Just like with a refrigerator, n airtight container is the best way to keep your coffee fresh for as long as you can.
Here’s a tip: if you have coffee that you’d like to freeze to keep it from going bad, why not pour that coffee into ice cube trays and make coffee cubes?
That way, you can add the coffee cubes to fresh coffee the next day, which will keep your coffee from being watered down, and you also won’t have to deal with the stale taste of a cup of reheated coffee.
Just be sure to cover the tray with plastic wrap!
What Can You Do With Your Leftover Coffee?
As you can tell, it’s not exactly an exact science. If you’d rather not chance it, why not consider using the leftover coffee for other things? There are tons of ways you can use leftover coffee, rather than just tossing it out.
- Bake with it. Did you know you can substitute the water in your favorite cake or brownie recipes with coffee for an extra rich and indulgent taste? This works best with chocolate recipes!
- Make coffee liqueur for your home bar. Using coffee liqueurs like Kahlua is a delicious and easy way to take your home cocktails to the next level. But you can make your own using your extra coffee quickly and easily!
- Water your plants with it. Yes, really. Coffee grounds can help fertilize plants, but brewed coffee can do the same thing. The caffeine in the coffee adds nitrogen to the soil, which helps your plants grow lush and strong. Simply dilute the coffee with water and pour it over your plants for an occasional boost!
It can be difficult to pour a pot of coffee down the drain just because you didn’t get to it in time, so it makes sense to try and save it if you can, and there are lots of ways to do that.
For one, refrigerate your leftover coffee in an airtight container for about 3-5 days, or about a week if it’s cold brew.
Or, freeze it to create coffee ice cubes that can be used in smoothies, protein shakes, or to keep your fresh iced coffee from watering down.
And if all else fails, use it in your baking, cooking, and gardening!
Of course, no cup of coffee is worth your health (no, seriously). Be sure to refrigerate your leftover coffee properly, and take care when drinking coffee that’s several days old.
Use your senses, be aware of any changes in smell, taste, and texture, and remember: when in doubt, throw it out!