How Long Can Coffee Sit Out & Still Taste Glorious? (Fridge vs Room Temp)

Last updated on May 27th, 2023 by Britt Baker

how long can coffee sit out

Many people around the world choose drinking coffee as a part of their daily routine. In fact, Americans drink coffee more often than any other beverage. 58% of Americans drink coffee daily, more than juice, tea, soda, or even tap water.

Given the popularity of consuming coffee, many wonder just how long can coffee sit out safely, before the beverage starts to go bad. 

So we went to work and locked down the answers for you. Whether you drink your coffee black, iced, or in a latte, this quick guide will help you learn just how much time you have to drink up your favorite caffeinated beverage.

How Long Can Black Coffee Sit Out?

While it is popular to believe that black coffee is most fresh within 20 to 30 minutes after brewing if kept in an open container or up to an hour in a sealed cup, you actually have a bit of leeway in finishing your caffeinated drink.

  • Room temperature:
    • Brewed black coffee and espresso are believed to be safe to drink for up to 4 hours after brewing, giving you a lot of time to linger and savor every drop.
  • Refrigerator:
    • Black coffee and espresso can be stored in the refrigerator for as much as 3 to 4 days, however the taste of the coffee will be less favorable over time.

How Long Can Cold Brew Sit Out?

best cold brew coffee maker
Cold brew lasts longer than regular coffee unless it has milk in it. Photo by Eiliv-Sonas Aceron

In comparison with hot coffee, cold brew can last much longer.

  • Room temperature:
    • If you get a cold brew from a cafe or add water to cold brew concentrate before putting it in the fridge, you should make sure to consume it within 3 to 4 days
  • Refrigerator:
    • When stored in the refrigerator, cold brew coffee concentrate can last up to 7 to 10 days.
  • With dairy:
    • Cold brew with the addition of dairy creamer or milk should be consumed in 2 hours if sitting out.
    • However, cold brew with milk or creamer can stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 1 to 2 days.

It’s always important to remember to smell and check for visible signs of spoiling before consuming.

How Long Can a Latte Sit Out?

  • Room temperature:
    • In comparison to brewed black coffee, coffee beverages that have creamer or milk added to it, such as a latte or cappuccino, should be consumed within 2 hours or so.
    • It’s important to make sure to drink coffee with dairy kept at room temperature within a couple of hours before it spoils.
  • Refrigerator:
    • However, if you choose to refrigerate the beverage, you may be able to still enjoy your creamy coffee drink a day or two later.
    • Just make sure to smell and visually check the beverage before consumption, since milk is dangerous when it goes bad.

The Science of What Happens to Coffee Over Time

The temptation to not waste brewed coffee is a common one, even though the taste can greatly decline as it sits out at room temperature. But why does this happen? Science has an explanation for this occurrence.

Ground coffee is full of acids, chemical compounds, and a variety of volatile oils that are responsible for the flavor millions of coffee lovers enjoy. All of these substances can be considered to be solubles, or substances that mix well in water. These solubles are extracted during the process of brewing coffee and give that oh so delectable signature aroma and taste.

percolator hot coffee
From the moment coffee is roasted, grounded, and brewed it is losing flavors. So drink up ASAP!
Photo by Erik Witsoe

However, once the coffee beans touch the air (via roasting and grinding), the solubles begin to oxidize or degrade almost immediately. This is why coffee beans and grounds are typically found in vacuum-sealed packages – so that the oxygen in the air doesn’t accelerate the diminishing of that signature coffee scent and flavor.

As coffee is brewed, grounds combine with hot water to pull the solubles from the coffee grounds which oxidizes them even more. Then, after the coffee is brewed, the longer it sits, the more it oxidizes, becoming less desirable in taste and in aroma.

Ways to Store Coffee to Keep it Fresh Longer

All in all, coffee stays fresh longer when it is stored in the refrigerator than left out after brewing. However, if you really want to make coffee last even longer, you can pour either cold brew or brewed coffee that has been allowed to cool down into an ice cube tray and freeze the cubes until they are solid.

After about 2 to 3 hours, the cubes should be fully frozen. You can then transfer them to an airtight bag or container and use them by either melting them down or to add to fresh cold brew or iced coffee in place of regular ice cubes. Just make sure to use the coffee ice cubes within 2 weeks before they spoil.

For the freshest coffee beans that are never wasted, consider a coffee subscription box so you only get what you need each month and nothing more.


How Long Does Ground Coffee Stay Fresh?

Like whole coffee beans, a sealed package of ground coffee should continue to stay fresh until the best-by date applied by the manufacturer.

However, once opened, the coffee is best stored away from light, moisture, and heat in an opaque container, sealed airtight. When stored this way, you should be able to enjoy the ground coffee for approximately 1 to 2 weeks before its freshness begins to decline.

Is it Safe to Drink Day-Old Coffee

Drinking coffee that has been sitting out for a day is not recommended as safe to drink, particularly if it smells or tastes unpleasant or has gone rancid. Since brewed coffee does have a tendency to gather molds, especially at room temperature, it’s probably not a good idea to consume day-old coffee unless it has been kept at a safe refrigerated temperature.


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