How Long is Brewed Coffee Good for

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How Long is Brewed Coffee Good for?

We all know that coffee is at its peak when poured (and enjoyed!) straight after brewing. But is the taste the only thing that gets diminished by having your brew sitting on the hotplate for hours? Will you still take pleasure in your half-drank morning coffee in the afternoon?

Read on to learn all about the shelf life of the brew and what to do to increase it.

What Is Coffee’s Shelf Life After Brewing?

Just like anything food-related, your brewed morning pot will not stay fresh forever (despite what your tired self may wish for). In fact, after brewing, you have about 30 minutes to drink and fully enjoy your cup of Joe. Leave it in your mug for longer than half an hour, and you will start noticing drastic changes in the next sips. The taste will become less satisfying, the flavor profile diluted.

As the hours go by, the brew will become even less enjoyable, until there are only traces left of that rich coffee flavor you are looking for in every cup. 

Although you will probably not find it pleasant, your morning cup of Joe sitting on the desk can still be safely consumed late in the afternoon (if the only thing you need is a dose of energy, that is). And assuming you take it black. Milk and creamer have a much shorter lifespan.

Can Your Coffee Go Bad?

Absolutely! Pretty much every single ingredient in your kitchen can turn bad after some time, and that’s also the case with brewed coffee. Leave your brewed pot at room temperature for some time, and it becomes a feast for yeasts and bacteria. They will not only feed on your Java, but they will also multiply in it.

However, it takes a while for that to happen. For a coffee to be considered not safe, it has to be sitting on the counter for more than 24 hours. And who wants to start their day with that kind of pot? Bottomline – drinking your few-hours-old coffee won’t kill you.

How to Save Brewed Coffee for Later

If you know you are in for a hectic ride, it may be wise to brew your daily caffeine dose in the morning. Again, you can drink it straight from the pot a few hours later, but it will not taste as good. To treat yourself with a creamy and flavorful mouthfeel in the afternoon, you should store your late-day cup of Joe, the right way.

Without Add-Ins

When storing your coffee for later, you shouldn’t add sugar, cream, milk, or anything else you usually spice your Java with. Why? Because every ingredient, when in contact with coffee, starts a chemical reaction. You might find that pleasant when drinking it fresh, but in the long-run, it will just destroy your pick-me-up.

In an Air-Tight Container

To avoid putting yourself through the torture of drinking tasteless coffee, think about storing it in an air-tight container. That will lock out the oxygen, prevent oxidation, and keep your coffee fresh, longer.

The Fascinating Chemistry of Oxidation

Oxygen is your brew’s number one enemy. When your coffee is exposed to air, its molecular makeup changes and not in a good way. It loses most of its flavor compounds and aroma, becoming less and less pleasant to the palate.

This process is called oxidation. You may not be able to see this taking place, but you will definitely taste it.

The longer you leave your coffee in your cup, exposed to air, the more it will decay, dilute, and take on unpleasant acidity. Still not sure how this happens? Just think of a peeled banana left on a plate for a few hours. Will it still look fresh, or will the oxidation turn it brown?

Why Does Coffee Turn Bitter?

Again, it is all oxygen’s fault. When you leave your brew sitting in the pot (or cup) for too long, the process of oxidation will lift its pH level, which will, in turn, make the coffee taste bitter and stale.

That’s why – if you care about the flavor of your cup of Joe – you should never leave the coffee for longer than you need to. For best results, store it in an air-tight container to prevent contact with oxygen.

But that’s not the only thing that’s making your coffee bitter. Brewing for too long is just as big of an enemy, as this process is also oxidation. Start paying attention to how long you are preparing your coffee.

Remember: Stale Grounds Make Stale Coffee

It practically goes without saying, but if your ground coffee is not fresh, the brewed result will be just as stale.

The longer your grounds sit, the higher amount of oxygen that they’ve been exposed to. Keep that in mind when storing your beans and ground coffee, and do not buy in bulk if it is not necessary.

Of course, the stale coffee will not make you sick, but it will not lift your spirits either.

Can You Refrigerate Coffee and Reheat It?

To keep it short – yes, you can. But don’t expect it to taste as good as it is in the first 30 minutes. Nothing beats a freshly brewed pot, and refrigerating your brew for later will not magically retain its flavorful and aromatic compounds either.

But, yes, it is better than leaving it on your desk for hours. Again, store it black and add the flavors later. When ready to consume, just pop it in the microwave and heat it.

Refrigerated, your coffee is supposed to last for a week, but don’t push it this far. Drink it as soon as you can.

Does Reheating Coffee Destroy Caffeine?

Saving your coffee for later and reheating it before consuming destroys nothing but its taste, period. If you are looking for your caffeine fix to help you get through the workday, sure, you can reheat your cup of Joe and sacrifice the taste for the sake of the energy boost.

Caffeine responds to heat well, and its dose will not be diminished if you reheat your brewed coffee. You will notice a difference in the flavor, but other than that, you should get your kick.

Facts about the Lifespan of Brewed Coffee

The flavor and taste of your brewed coffee stay in the climax during the first 10 to 15 minutes after brewing. After you’ve prepared your cup, you have about 30 minutes to enjoy the coffee’s richness in full swing. As your mug gets colder, the taste is starting to become less and less diluted, until it goes flat.

Considering leaving it on the hotplate until ready to consume? You might want to rethink it. While on the hotplate, the coffee does not maintain the heat, but it reheats itself to stay hot. That means over-extraction, which drags bitterness to your cup.

Conclusion

The best advice is to drink your coffee while still warm. Once it goes cold, it will still be drinkable, but not as enjoyable. If you, for some reason, need to have brewed coffee nearby, you might want to consider investing in a decent thermos to add a couple of hours of freshness to your brewed Java. 

Don’t settle for energy kicks only – your taste buds deserve the flavor treat as well!

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