Unlike hot brew coffee, which becomes trash after a couple of hours, cold brew coffee would be stored in the fridge for days. This can save you a lot of time and efforts preparing each morning. But how long does cold brew coffee actually last in low temperatures? This guide will give you an exact answer.
What makes coffee go bad?
Coffee grounds are full of solubles, including acids, chemical compounds, and oils. They are extracted from the beans during the brewing process and give the typical smell and taste of the coffee.
But when you leave your coffee for too long, moisture and air start to oxidize or degrade the drink. The reaction between oxygen and hydrogen will increase the level of pH. This eventually makes the drink taste stale or bitter.
Methanethiol is a susceptible sulfur compound that gives coffee the desirable aromas. When you brew coffee at high temperatures, this substance will dissolve in the drink. At the same time, boiling water also pulls out most solubles from the grounds.
These components keep oxidizing with air exposure, leading to a bitter and sour taste. You can easily notice this change just after 1 or 2 hours.
How long does cold brew coffee last in the fridge?
Brewing coffee at low temperatures keeps a large amount of solubles in the grounds. As a result, the oxidization can be slower, which extends the lifespan of the drink.
Since cold brew coffee is in a concentrated form, you would store the leftover for later use. The average lifespan can be much longer than hot brewed types.
In general, cold brew coffee would last for up to 10 to 15 days in the fridge. This means that you can still enjoy the drink without deteriorated tastes or flowers. However, the overall quality would degrade over time.
This is only an estimate for coffee without any cream, sugar, or milk. The exact duration can vary, depending on many factors such as moisture, heat, temperature, light, and concentration.
If left in the concentrated form without dilution, you can maximize the lifespan of cold brew coffee. The best flavour can still be retained after the first week.
When you add more water, it would reduce the duration to 2 or 3 days. The lifespan can even be shorter when you dilute the coffee with milk or cream. This is because these added ingredients can change the properties and make the liquid start to spoil.
How to extend the lifespan of cold brew coffee
When it comes to coffee storage, the key is to protect it from light, heat, moisture, and excessive air. All of these external components can accelerate the oxidization, which eventually changes the flavours and tests. Below are some useful tips to help you maximise the lifespan of your cold brew coffee.
Use airtight containers
Moisture is the biggest enemy of foods and drinks. Exposing your cold brew coffee to the air too much would degrade its flavour and taste.
The best way to preserve cold brew coffee is in an air-tight bottle, jar, or container. Downsizing the container if possible to reduce the amount of air inside.
In case the lid or top part is not really airtight, you should place a plastic wrap to prevent tastes and smells from other foods in the fridge from penetrating.
As for the material, glass is recommended because it is simple to clean will not retain flavours or stain. If you use plastic, strictly use the same one for storing coffee to avoid cross-contamination.
Do not use a metal container because acid content in the coffee would interact and release harmful substances, especially when stored for a long period.
Do not dilute
Depending on personal preferences, people can add milk, cream, or sugar to meet their tastes. However, if you plan to store your cold brew coffee in the fridge, it is better to avoid this with the whole batch.
Diluted coffee has a shorter life than an undiluted version. Make sure to pour the drink into a smaller mug before sweetening and keep the remaining part intact for later use.
Clean between uses
After using the last batch, make sure to clean the storage bottle thoroughly with soap and warm water. This can prevent left residues from spoiling your new brew coffee. Do not forget to dry the inside before pouring the drink.
Adding preservatives to keep cold brew longer can be a big no-no. But it can be an effective solution when you are away from home for a few weeks, for instance. The best option for this purpose is salt or citric acid. They can help you have around 5 to 7 days more.
Commercial cold brew coffee
While hot brew coffee would be volatile and change flavours at various temperatures, cold brew options are quite stable. That’s why they are relatively gaining widespread popularity in coffee bars and supermarkets as ready-to-drink or packaged products. Some manufacturers can make batches that stay good for up to 6 weeks.
However, it is important to know that many companies might add preservatives or additives to extend the shelf life of their products. This means longer storage time does not necessarily mean good. The next time you shop for some cold brew coffee bottles, make sure to read the ingredient lists and make an informed decision.
The bottom line
To sump up. cold brew coffee can last up to 2 weeks in the fridge. The key is to store the drink properly to avoid the effects of moisture, light, and heat. However, it is still better to enjoy a freshly brewed cup for optimal tastes and flavours.