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How Long Does Cold Brew Last If Kept in the Refrigerator?

By Connor Wilson

May 9, 2019

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In the world of coffee, there are always new trends to consider and enjoy. The hottest right now, ironically, is a concoction that isn't hot at all. The cold method of making coffee is a new revolution of the iced coffee craze. However, it's not made the same way as iced coffee, and you may be asking yourself, "How long does cold brew last?"


Why Should you Choose Cold Brew?

In the past, coffee shops only offered hot coffee varieties on their menu, and coffee poured over ice to create a watered-down, more refreshing beverage. In such cases, the ice diluted its flavors quite a bit, since there was less coffee than ice or water.

When you consider having coffee poured over ice or cold brewed coffee, a glass of cold brew will always win.

One of the biggest problems with iced coffee (and one of the reasons that cold brew methods became so popular) centers around how cafés deal with cold coffee beverages. In the past, cafe's would store their fresh hot pots in an icebox but serve extremely bitter-tasting coffee to its patrons.

Therein lies a dilemma.

You must refrigerate it quickly so that it doesn't turn bad. Still, the refrigeration process encourages oxidation, which converts chilled hot coffee into something more acidic than it would have been while hot.

These days, cold brew methods prevent much of this oxidation by removing heat from the process entirely. Here are some reasons why cold brewed coffee is a better choice:

  • Caffeine Content

Cold-brew coffee may have up to double the caffeine content of traditional iced coffee because cold brewing up to 24 hours creates a coffee concentrate.

  • Consistent Flavor

Hot coffee taste is volatile because it may change its flavor at different temperatures, but cold brew coffee does not, making it suitable for pre-packaging and ready-to-drink products.

Of course, that is where savvy companies get in on the action because they can easily package these products and sell them.

You've probably gone to your grocery store and noticed how the refrigerated section has rows upon rows of glass bottles with various styles of cold brew coffee inside of them.

  • Easy to Make at Home

While buying packed cold brew coffee is the route most people take to enjoy the beverage, it gets pricey, as most single-serve ready-to-drink (RTD) bottles cost about half the price of your favorite bag of coffee beans. You should instead consider buying those coffee beans and make some cold brew instead.

You can find a variety of recipes that help you make your cold brew coffee at home, and the process is quite simple to do as long as you don't mind steeping ground coffee beans in water for 24 hours.

If you enjoy drinking coffee throughout the year, consider looking into a few recipes, get the right supplies, and dive into the fantastic world of cold brew.

  • Market and Economic Improvement

Manufacturers love how cold-brew coffee remains so popular, uniquely as innovators design the best tools to make it. Coffee sales are much higher now than in the past, according to the New York Times, and it's looking to stay high all year long.

Baristas used to have little to do in summer, except for those die-hard fans who drank hot coffee or espresso every day, but now they're much busier because there are cold-brew and iced recipes available.

Still, the most pressing question you have is how long is cold brew good for? What's the shelf life?


How Long is Cold Brew Coffee Good for in the Fridge?

When you remove all grounds from the batch, your cold brew coffee should remain suitable for 2 weeks in the fridge. Of course, this is only an estimate and references using black coffee without any milk, sugar, creamers, or flavor additives.

If you add anything else to your batch, your result will be a shorter shelf-life, so check it after the first week.

The most prominent cold brew conundrum people face is that they make a concentrate (which results in many cups of coffee) and find that it goes bad before they use it all. 

2 WEEKS

Simply put, most recipes call for making big batches since coffee shops generally make large amounts.

Cold brew coffee is similar to iced tea in that it doesn't have a very long shelf life. While coffee doesn't produce mold as quickly as iced tea, it can mold if it isn't refrigerated immediately after brewing. 

Along with such, the brew may develop mold if you don't use it within a couple of weeks.

It's always best to keep cold brew concentrate refrigerated. The product has no preservatives when you make it at home versus store-bought. Hence, you cannot expect it to last for months.

Does it Make you Sick?

Coffee may become stale and lose its flavor and aroma over time. That doesn't mean you will get sick from it. It does mean, however, that you're less likely to enjoy it as it ages. Don't drink homemade cold-brew that has aged more than two weeks, even refrigerated.

Can you Store Cold Brew at Room Temperature?

Please do not store your finished cold brew on the shelf. Coffee (of any style) can go rancid, which means it is going to taste highly bitter and may become moldy with time. Consider storing your coffee like your store other perishable food, for as short a time as possible in your refrigerator.


How to Extend the Shelf Life of Cold Brew Coffee

No one is ever going to recommend that you keep your cold brew (either concentrate or prepared) more than a month in your refrigerator, but consider freezing your leftovers, so it doesn't go rancid.

Cold Brew Ice Cubes

One fantastic benefit of brewing cold brew coffee is that you can always warm it up and expect the same flavor; the same goes for freezing it.

You can always dilute the concentrate with milk or water, add cream, or even sweeten it, once thawed.

Use Smaller Storage Containers

If you're worried about it going bad before you finish it, make sure that, as you use the concentrate, to downsize the container you keep it in so that there is less air that can oxidize the coffee and remove flavor. Alternatively, storing your concentrate in smaller bottles from the beginning will also extend the shelf life.

Most experts agree that it is best to consume the concentrate within the first week of brewing it, regardless of whether you make it yourself or purchase it from the store, but bottling in this way helps you portion and share with others.

Cold Brew Preservatives

In my opinion, using preservatives for cold brew is a big no-no, but in the event you do plan on using them, consider citric acid or salt for preserving your cold brew. Remember that the best way to enjoy cold brew is by sharing a glass with a friend. Don't preserve, share.


FINAL THOUGHTS

Cold-brew concentrate lasts up to two weeks, and you should never leave it at room temperature after the brewing process is complete. You are brewing a concentrate in that French Press, so consider adding water to dilute it.

Once you brew it to your desired likeness, you should immediately transfer it to several small containers that will hold all the concentrate without leaving too much room for oxidation. Alternatively, consume it fast enough that you can get away with a single container.

Connor Wilson

About the Author

A cold brew coffee enthusiast and blogger, Connor was fresh out of college with a ton of student debt when he realized that a normal corporate job wouldn't cut it for him. He worked his tail off building an online business and now is fortunate enough to blog for a living.

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