Does Cold Brew Coffee Go Bad? Yes, And How To Know


Perhaps you’ve made a fresh batch of cold brew coffee or purchased some from your favorite coffee shop and you’d like to keep it around for a bit.  But you’re wondering does cold brew coffee go bad?

coffee brewed in coffee shop

We’ll give you the answer to this question, plus help you know how to best store your cold brew to maximize shelf life whether it’s home brewed or from the grocery store, and educate as to how to determine some of the signs that your cold brew has gone bad.

What is Cold Brew Coffee?

Cold brew coffee is a type of black coffee that’s created using the brewing process of cold water or room temperature water by allowing it to steep for several hours, rather than using hot water and brewing hot coffee instantly.

Cold brew tends to be a stronger coffee, a coffee concentrate, with higher caffeine content. It can also be made from instant coffee.  It can be made using more than one brewing method including a French press. 

How Long Does Cold Brew Last

The good news is cold brew kept in an airtight container, stored properly in the refrigerator, it will last approximately a couple of weeks, but more precisely up to 7-10 days. 

Does Cold Brew Coffee Go Bad

Yes, like any perishable food item, cold brew coffee will eventually go bad. There are some key indicators to watch for to know whether your coffee has spoiled.

cold brew coffee in a glass
cold brew coffee in a glass

The best way to know if. Your cold brew has spoiled is to be aware of and watch for these key indicators. If you suspect it has spoiled, you should not drink it and should throw it away instead. 

Some of the Signs Your Cold Brew Has Gone Bad

What are some signs to watch for to know if your cold brew coffee has gone bad? Using your senses will help you make the determining decision. Here are the things to watch for.

Taste. If the taste of your cold brew seems extra bitter or seems off in any other way, don’t drink it and throw it away instead.

Smell. If the coffee smells off at all or seems rancid, be sure to throw it away. Don’t risk drinking it as it might cause you to become sick. 

Appearance. If your cold brew coffee has a translucent film, is discolored, has developed mold growth, or seems off in any other way, chances are it has gone bad and needs to be discarded. 

Storing Cold Brew Coffee

After your cold brew coffee has steeped and has been strained, it should be refrigerated at 40F degrees or less and stored in an airtight container.

Generally, coffee lovers can store cold brew coffee in the refrigerator for up to 7-10 days before it goes bad. 

We’ve listed the key indicators of spoilage above, so be sure to check that out if you’re not sure whether your cold brew has gone bad. If in doubt, we always recommend throwing it away rather than risking consuming it.

Do I Need to Store My Cold Brew in the Refrigerator?

Yes, we don’t recommend leaving your cold brew sit out at room temperature for any longer than 2 hours. If left out for a long time, longer than 2 hours, it can go bad.

cold brew coffee
cold brew coffee

Instead, store it in the refrigerator to maximize shelf life and to keep bacteria from growing as quickly.

I Don’t Have Any Room for the Brewer in My Fridge? Does it Need to Brew in There?

We recommend cold brewing coffee in your refrigerator for the best results, for the length of shelf life, and for food safety reasons.

Although it is possible to successfully cold brew coffee at room temperature, we don’t recommend it because there is a greater risk of bacteria developing.

What is Cold Brew vs Iced Coffee?

The difference between cold brew coffee and iced coffee is how they’re brewed.

Cold Brew Coffee is brewed in the refrigerator overnight.  It uses cold water and coffee grounds that are soaked in cold water and later strained out to create it. 

ice cold coffee
ice cold coffee

Iced Coffee is brewed using hot water and poured over ice cubes to make it cold. To keep from diluting your iced coffee, it’s best to prepare your ice cubes in advance by pre-freezing already brewed regular coffee in an ice cube tray, rather than using water.

That way, when the ice cubes begin to melt, it will simply add to the coffee flavor rather than diluting it with a water flavor from water made ice cubes.

How Long Does Cold Brew Last Once You Have Made It?

Once you’ve made it, it will usually last up to 7-10 days if it’s free from contamination and bacteria growth. 

How Long Should I Let My Cold Brew Steep?

We recommend letting your cold brew steep in the refrigerator overnight, for approximately 8 – 12 hours. After that, the coffee grounds can be strained out and completely removed before the coffee is served.

iced coffee beverage
iced coffee beverage

How Can You Extend the Shelf Life of Your Cold Brew?

Usually cold brew coffee will last up to 7 – 10 days if stored properly. But there are some things that you can do to prolong its shelf life. Here are some ideas.

1.Use high quality coffee beans for the best results. Good quality beans will result in good quality coffee.

2. When using whole coffee beans, be sure to ground your whole beans to a coarse grind.

3. Keep it in an airtight glass container in the refrigerator that’s set to 40F degrees or less. Using glass such as a mason jar with lid provides the best results, compared to a plastic container.

pouring coffee in a glass
pouring coffee in a glass

4. Use cold brew ice cubes or coffee ice cubes to help keep from diluting your coffee and to keep contaminants out.  This will provide a longer shelf life.

5. Add cold brew preservatives to the coffee oils, if desired, to make it last longer.

5. Leave the cold brew concentrate as undiluted concentrate while storing it in the refrigerator.

Will Sugar, Cream, or Milk Impact the Shelf Life of Cold Brew?

Yes, the addition of sugar, cream, or milk will likely shorten the shelf life of this type of coffee as well as iced coffee. Its presence causes bacterial growth to take place more rapidly, which causes it to spoil faster.

For the best results, and to maximize shelf life, avoid adding sugar and creamer to your cold brew until you’re ready to serve it. This will help to keep it fresh for as long as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

Following are frequently asked questions that relate to does cold brew coffee go bad. If you have a question that’s not answered here, feel free to drop it to us in the comments box below and we’ll be happy to respond to any questions about coffee drinks.

pouring milk into coffee
pouring milk into coffee

Is it okay to drink expired cold brew?

We don’t recommend drinking expired cold brew because of the potential of bacteria that can cause potential illness or food poisoning.

Expired cold brew should be thrown away, do not risk consuming it.

Does cold coffee actually expire?

Cold coffee that has been prepared by a manufacturer will include an expiration date on the original packaging.

Cold brew coffee that’s made at home or at a coffee shop will also eventually go bad, though it doesn’t include an actual expiration date.  

How long can cold brew coffee last in the fridge?

It will last in the refrigerator for approximately 1-2 weeks, but up to 7-10 days is a more precise estimate, depending on its shelf life. It should be stored at 40F degrees or below.

If it doesn’t taste, smell, or look right, it has likely gone bad and should be thrown away, or fed to your plants.

roasted coffee beans
roasted coffee beans

What is the shelf life of cold brew?

Freshly made cold-brewed coffee has a shelf life of 7-10 days when kept in a sealed container in a refrigerator that’s 40F degrees or less. After the first week, you’ll want to carefully monitor it for spoilage. 

Related Ideas:

Why Does My Coffee Taste Watery?
Iced Caramel Latte
Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino Recipe
How To Make Iced Coffee Fast

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Sarah is known for her extra fancy yeast breads, melt in your mouth pies, and everything salads. She has won awards as a home cook, and is passionate about helping others feel smarter in the kitchen. Sarah is the cooking genius of the sister duo.

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