- Coffee Aging, Degassing, & Freshness
- Should You Store Coffee in the Fridge, Freezer, Or Shelf?
- How Long Does Coffee Last in the Fridge?
- The Bottom Line
You may not always get the portioning correct when making coffee at home—nobody’s perfect. Then you’re left with a cup or two that you cannot finish right away.
What do you do with the extra lip-smacking brew? Store it in the fridge, of course, and then, drink it for later.
But, how long does coffee last in the fridge? Can you also store ground coffee or beans in the fridge? Is it a few hours or a few days?
Keep on reading as I answer these questions for you.
Coffee Aging, Degassing, & Freshness
I’m sure we can all agree that the fresher the coffee, the better it tastes. But it’s not that simple to keep coffee fresh. After roasting coffee, two forces will be working in opposition to each other, which are going to determine the freshness of your coffee. Those two things are oxidation and degassing.
What Is Degassing in Coffee?
Degassing is the release of CO2 in freshly roasted coffee, which takes place at an aggressive rate during the first week after roasting. CO2 can be a problem for two reasons.
First, during that first week after roasting, the extraction of flavors can be uneven as well as unpredictable because of the high rate at which CO2 is being released. Any barista who has made coffee brew with freshly roasted coffee several days in a row has experienced this effect. It doesn’t matter whether you have a standard recipe or not.
Second, the flavor or taste that is associated with coffee is affected. The CO2 can mask some of the attributes that make coffee special. You may not have the best clarity of flavor, developed sweetness, and the whole experience will be affected.
What Is Oxidation?
Oxidation starts as soon as the coffee is roasted. This is the thing that makes coffee taste stale. Oxidation is always bad for coffee enthusiasts.
You can slow down or speed up oxidation in different ways. You can slow down oxidation by storing your roasted beans in a sealed bag with a one-way valve that will allow CO2 to escape but doesn’t let oxygen into the bag.
Grinding your coffee, on the other hand, increases the rate of oxidation because you are fully exposing the beans to oxygen.
What Do Degassing and Oxidation Mean for Optimum Freshness of Coffee?
During the first few days after roasting, you would want to let the coffee rest and degas. This is usually zero to five days after roasting because the coffee isn’t ready. But you shouldn’t wait until excessive oxidation starts.
After the 6th day, the coffee should be sweet, and you should be able to have a good clarity of flavor. This period usually starts from the 6th up to the 14th day after roasting. It’s worth noting that this period is much wider than most people thought.
As long as you keep your roasted coffee in a sealed bag and cool dry place, it should be at peak freshness. Of course, that’s as long as you finish the coffee in about 14 days.
From the 15th day after roasting onward, the effects of oxidation start to become apparent, meaning, the sweetness level and flavor begin to fade.
Should You Store Coffee in the Fridge, Freezer, Or Shelf?
It seems like every barista has a different opinion on the best way to store coffee. Is it in the fridge, in the freezer, or on the shelf?
We’ve already talked about the ideal time to use coffee after roasting. Bear in mind that freshly roasted coffee is at its peak from the 6th to the 14th day after roasting. That’s the period that gives you the best extraction.
If you happen to have a bag of coffee that you cannot consume quickly enough before excessive oxidation takes place, you’ll need proper storage. But, where is the best spot to do that?
I’ve found that the freezer is the best place to store coffee because it came out better than the fridge and the shelf. But you should only freeze your coffee beans when you find yourself in one of these situations:
- If you are wasting roasted coffee because it has gone stale, and you haven’t finished the bag quickly enough.
- You are constantly running out of coffee because you don’t want to buy too much and it goes stale.
- You want to have a variety of coffee to drink without worrying about drinking multiple bags at a time.
- If you want to improve grind consistency and distribution.
How Long Does Coffee Last in the Fridge?
Now, what about coffee brew, you may ask. It’s best to store it in the fridge, but let’s break this down to cold brew and hot brew storage.
Cold Brew Coffee
As the name suggests, cold brew is coffee that is prepared with cold water. It brings a slightly different taste and flavor compared to coffee made with hot water. Bitterness and harshness are usually eliminated to give you a more delicate flavor.
Unlike hot water coffee, cold brew is highly recommended for fridge storage because that helps improve the quality of the coffee.
How Long Does Cold Brew Last in the Fridge?
Cold-brew can last in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. This period, however, could vary significantly depending on the quality of roasted beans, grinding technique, brewing ratio, and steeping time.
The more superior the quality of your roasted beans, the longer the freshness of your cold brew. I say, go freshly roasted beans that have been allowed to degas for a few days. But the beans should not be older than 14 days after roasting.
The right ratio matters when it comes to making high-quality cold brew that will last longer in the fridge. The general rule of thumb is to mix one gallon of water with 16 ounces of roasted coffee beans. You can easily mess up your flavor profile if you get the ratio wrong.
The grinding method you use can also affect your cold brew’s shelf life. You can get the highest flavor, taste, and caffeine by using a coarse grind. A fine grind, on the other, will produce a bitter and bland beverage.
Another factor that could affect the shelf life of your cold-brewed coffee is the steeping time. A cold brew that is not steeped for at least 12 hours may not have the longest shelf life.
The most ideal steeping time is between 16 and 20 hours.
Signs Indicating Cold Brew Going Bad
If you store your cold brew longer than two weeks in the fridge, the coffee is likely to go bad. There are a few signs that will tell you the brew is going bad and that it is time to get rid of it.
These signs include:
After 2 weeks in the fridge and the coffee tastes stale, then that’s a clear sign of the brew going bad. The brew produces a strange odor when you open the container. The odor can be sour or rancid woody, which clearly tells you that the cold brew is bad or spoiled. When you take a sip, you get an overripe fruit or wood vinegar taste.
Molds Start Forming
You should expect molds to form when the cold brew goes completely bad after a couple of weeks in the fridge. But if you see mold in your cold brew before the two-week mark, then you are probably having a sanitization problem. So, make sure you sanitize the airtight container properly before using it.
Hot Brew Coffee
As the name suggests, hot brew coffee is made with ground coffee and hot water. There are several methods of making hot brew coffee, including:
- Percolator coffee
- Press or plunger
- Pour over or drip
- Coffee maker
How Long Can Hot Brew Coffee Last in the Fridge?
Hot brew coffee can last 3 to 4 days in your fridge. Some studies indicate that hot brewed coffee can last up to a week in the fridge.
How to Store Hot Brewed Coffee in the Fridge
You should not put your hot coffee into the fridge immediately after brewing. Instead, you should do the following:
Allow the Hot Coffee to Cool to Room Temperature
If you put hot coffee into the fridge, the temperature will be affected significantly. The fridge has to work extra hard to bring the temperature back to normal. This can lead to increased energy consumption if done routinely.
It can take a while for the temperature to normalize, depending on the ambient temperature and how powerful the fridge is. So, the best thing to do is to let the coffee rest for an hour to cool to room temperature.
Store the Coffee in an Airtight Container
The most ideal container for storing brewed coffee in the fridge is one with a lid, such as a mason jar. Alternatively, you can use a carafe that you can cover with plastic wrap. Make sure the container does not retain flavors after washing.
If you choose to use an airtight plastic container, then only use it to store coffee and nothing else. I don’t recommend using any metallic containers because the acidic content in your brewed coffee may react with metal.
Sanitize Your Container
It is extremely important to sanitize your container to kill any type of bacteria. This does a good job of preventing mold from forming in your brewed coffee. Molds are usually a sign of stale coffee, but sometimes they can be caused by poorly cleaned containers.
Where to Place Coffee in the Fridge
When you are in a hurry to get to work in the morning, you might find yourself putting the coffee near the door of the fridge. This is okay if you are planning to consume the brew in a day or two.
But if you want the brew to last at least four days, then put the container at the back of the fridge where it is cooler.
How Long Can Coffee With Milk Last in the Fridge
Brewed coffee with milk can remain drinkable in the fridge for up to 2 days. Adding dairy products to brewed coffee changes its taste as well as flavor. You can adjust the temperature in the fridge to help keep the milk-enriched brew as fresh as possible.
Still, the best thing to do is make just enough coffee with milk that you can drink in one go.
Can I store coffee beans in the fridge?
Although some people do store coffee beans in the fridge in airtight containers. I don’t particularly recommend this technique. Instead, you should store them in the freezer. If your container is not tight enough, the beans could easily absorb all the aromas from other stuff in the fridge.
What happens if I drink stale coffee?
You might unintentionally drink stale brewed coffee because you don’t know how to tell if the coffee is going bad, but don’t worry as this will not harm you. But if you drink brewed coffee that has gone rancid, then you are likely to get sick.
How long can brewed coffee last at room temperature?
The maximum time brewed coffee can last at room temperature before it starts losing flavor and taste is 30 minutes. A couple of hours later and the coffee develops an unpleasant bitter taste and flavors.
How long does coffee last in the fridge? It depends on what form of coffee you are referring to. I don’t recommend storing coffee beans in the fridge. But you can store them in the freezer. You should not remove and return coffee beans to the freezer. It should only be a one-time deal with each batch of coffee beans.
Brewed coffee, either cold or hot, can be stored in the fridge. You should expect cold brew coffee to last up to 2 weeks before it starts going bad. Hot brew, on the other hand, can last up to 4 days before it loses its flavor and taste. At room temperature, you should expect brewed coffee to last at least 30 minutes.
For the best flavor and taste, it’s best that you drink your coffee shortly after brewing.