Recently, cold brew coffee has been growing in popularity. With smooth flavors, decadent undertones, and plenty of caffeine for an invigorating pick-me-up, cold brew coffee drinks are perfect for any time of the day.
But have you ever wondered if your cold brew coffee needs to be kept in the fridge while it steeps? Moreover, should you refrigerate this coffee to keep it fresh?
In this guide, we will discuss whether cold brew coffee needs to be refrigerated and why. We’ll also go over how long cold brew coffee can be kept in the fridge and what you can do to extend its shelf life.
Does Cold Brew Coffee Need to be Refrigerated?
Many people wonder if cold brew coffee needs to stay cold after the sleeping process is completed.
The short answer is yes. This is true whether you make your own cold brew coffee at home or buy a pre-made drink, like Starbucks cold brew, at the store.
But how about the steeping, do you have to do that in the ref as well? Let’s find out!
Does Cold Brew Have to be Refrigerated when Brewing?
Cold brew coffee is usually steeped in the refrigerator to create a chilly environment while the coffee grounds infuse into the water. However, it can also be made at room temperature and then refrigerated.
With that being said, most people prefer to make cold brew coffee by steeping coffee grounds in a refrigerated container like a pitcher or glass jar. You can also make your cold brew in a French press.
You see, even though, cold brew can be made by steeping coffee outside of the refrigerator for up to 12 hours, it will still ultimately needs to be refrigerated. After the coffee has been steeped at room temperature, it should be refrigerated and served cold to achieve the desired freshness and taste.
In addition to this, cold brew coffee made at room temperature might not have the same taste as coffee made with cold water and steeped in the fridge.
Although the room temperature method helps cut down the steeping time for making your cold brew, the flavors will usually be more acidic. As such, the preferred method for making cold brew involves steeping the coffee grounds in a jar or pitcher of cold water for around 24 hours in the refrigerator.
Does Cold Brew Have to be Stored in Refrigerator?
Yes, as with most drinks, cold brew coffee needs to be kept in the fridge.
If you decide not to refrigerate your cold brew coffee, you should drink it within a few hours of taking it out of the refrigerator or opening a fresh bottle. This is because when left at room temperature, it can grow mold, harbor bacteria, or develop a rancid taste.
If cold brew coffee contains milk, it can spoil even faster. So, always refrigerate your pitcher of cold brew coffee and if you can’t finish a whole bottle, screw the lid back on and store it in the fridge.
If you are putting a premade bottle of cold brew coffee back in the refrigerator after you’ve taken a sip, keep in mind that it will only be good for up to 24 hours from the time you opened it.
How Long is Cold Brew Good in the Fridge?
This will depend on what kind of cold brew coffee you have.
For example, a pitcher of cold brew coffee that you just made can be stored for 7 to 10 days in the fridge.
As long as you are pouring your cold brew coffee into a glass as you would with tea or orange juice, the pitcher will be good for up to 10 days.
However, if you are drinking directly out of a glass bottle such as with a premade cold brew beverage, you should consume your drink within 24 hours after first opening it.
Also, if you add milk to your jar or pitcher of cold brew coffee, its shelf life may be altered. For this reason, you should add sugar and milk to cold brew coffee after you have poured it from a pitcher into a glass as opposed to adding it directly to the pitcher itself.
So how can you make cold brew last longer in the refrigerator?
You should also consider how you are storing your homemade pitchers of cold brew.
Glass jars with lids or other airtight containers are best. Keeping air out helps keep all kinds of things fresher, including perishable cold brew coffee. Not only will an airtight container inhibit the growth of bacteria to some extent, but it will also help keep other flavors from your fridge out of the coffee.
Store cold brew coffee in the fridge at temperatures of 40°F (or 4°C) or under. According to the US Food and Drug Administration, refrigerators should always be kept at a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. The ideal refrigerator temperature is between 35 and 38 degrees Fahrenheit.
How do you know if your cold brew has gone bad?
You can tell if cold brew coffee is starting to go bad if it is over 7 days old and or starts to have changes in flavor. For instance, it may begin to taste bitter, stale, or sour if it goes bad.
Another sign that cold brew coffee is going bad is its smell. If your coffee starts to have a sulfurous scent, it’s time to throw it out and make a fresh batch.
Expired cold brew coffee can grow mold due to its liquid content, which can be bad for your health.
Can Cold Brew Go Bad if Not Refrigerated?
As with any other food or beverage, cold brew coffee can go bad if it is left unrefrigerated.
It won’t spoil as quickly as milk or juice, but it could begin to grow mold or go rancid. Moreover, cold brew coffee that is left out at room temperature may lose its aroma, become overly acidic, or even grow bacteria.
How Long Does Cold Brew Last Unrefrigerated?
Cold-brew coffee can last anywhere from 16 to 18 hours if left unrefrigerated.
It will depend on whether the coffee contains milk or sugar and whether it has been pasteurized. If you are making cold brew coffee on your countertop with just coffee grounds and water, it can be left at room temperature for up to 18 hours.
Once you open a bottle of cold brew coffee or pour it out of a pitcher, it is best to consume it before it gets to room temperature. This ensures the best flavors and prevents the possibility of spoilage.
Final Thoughts on Storing Cold Brew Coffee in Fridge
In summary, cold brew coffee is a delicious pick-me-up as long as you drink it in the right timeframe.
Although you can brew cold brew coffee at room temperature and then put the jar or pitcher directly into your refrigerator, it is better to make it in the refrigerator from the get-go. This ensures the best flavors and prevents the possibility of spoilage.
You should also remember that using the right coffee-to-water ratio is important for getting the best taste.
Once you have poured a glass of cold brew coffee or opened a store-bought bottle, you should try to consume it while still cold.