Can Cold Brew Go Bad? – When to Toss Out Cold Brew Coffee

Published Categorized as Journal

Cold brew has quickly turned into a crowd favorite amongst coffee lovers and its popularity shows no sign of slowing down. But can cold brew go bad? Actually, it can! There are many factors that dictate how quickly a cold brew will break down, but don’t worry, we’ve got the details for you here. So, if you’re ready, let’s dig deeper to uncover the truth about cold brew spoilage. 

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Table of Contents

cold brew drink

How Long Does Cold Brew Last?

On average, a cold brew can last up to two weeks. But you shouldn’t expect the flavor to stay the same.

Over time, your cold brew may take on a variety of flavors, from smooth to bitter, depending on how it was stored. Therefore, proper storage is vital when attempting to keep your cold brew fresh.

Cold Brew Shelf Life

The shelf life of a cold brew is 7-10 days at best quality. However, as mentioned, a cold brew can technically be stored in the fridge for up to two weeks. 

In actuality, there are many factors that will contribute to how long your cold brew will last. These include:

  • The container the cold brew is stored in
  • Whether or not the cold brew is diluted or undiluted
  • Whether or not the cold brew is store-bought
  • Whether the cold brew has additional ingredients
  • Whether or not the cold brew was steeped at room temperature

Does Cold Brew Go Bad in the Fridge?

One of the most common assumptions that people make is that an undiluted cold brew can last weeks, or even months, as long as it is kept in the fridge. 

This is simply not true!

A refrigerated cold brew can grow weak, watery, and even grow overwhelmingly bitter over time. It can also grow mold if left to itself too long.

Therefore, it is important that you discard a cold brew that shows signs of spoilage before consuming it.

Does Cold Brew Go Bad at Room Temperature?

Yes, cold brew can go bad at room temperature. This is why it is always recommended that you place a cold brew that was steeped unrefrigerated in the fridge immediately after steeping.

Leaving a cold brew on the counter for 20 hours or more is asking for trouble. So, always refrigerate your cold brew after steep times are up.

cold brew on counter

How Long Does Cold Brew Last Unrefrigerated?

If you are steeping your cold brew at room temperature, don’t do it any longer than 18 hours. After 18 hours are complete, place it in the fridge immediately. 

If, however, you’ve steeped a cold brew at home in the fridge and accidentally left it out, you can probably still consume it within 18 hours. Anything over that (such as 20-24 hours) may render the brew no longer safe to drink.

If you purchased a cold brew that was sold at room temperature, you are safe to keep it that way until the date printed on the label.

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Once open, however, store your store-bought cold brew the same way you would a homemade cold brew. It should be in the fridge and consumed, preferably, within 7-10 days.

Lastly, if you purchased a cold brew that was sold cold, be sure to keep it that way. Keep it in the fridge until the date printed on the label. Once open, drink it within 7-10 days for best quality. 

How Do You Know If Cold Brew Has Gone Bad?

Now that we’ve covered the basics concerning how long cold brews last, let’s direct our attention to signs cold brew has spoiled. 

Here’s how to tell if cold brew has gone bad:

  • Weak and watery taste
  • Little to no aroma
  • Extremely strong and acidic taste
  • Bitter taste 
  • Mold growth
  • No caffeine boost
  • Stale taste

Can Cold Brew Coffee Expire?

A homemade batch of cold brew coffee may expire in as little as 1-2 days

Shocked? Don’t be.

While we originally said that your cold brew can last anywhere from 10 days to two weeks, we need to be clear that this is for undiluted coffee.

Cold brew that has additional water, sugar, milk, cream, or other ingredients will spoil much faster. This is why iced lattes and iced coffees with added milk can only be kept refrigerated for 48 hours– tops! 

For this reason, it is usually recommended that you add yummy additions to your cold brew right before drinking it down. 

Note: Looking for ways to take your coffee from drab to fab? Check out a few fun recipes to make your standard coffee break much more exciting! 

What Happens If You Drink Expired Cold Brew?

Like with anything you eat or drink, drinking expired cold brew comes with risks. Foodborne illnesses are commonly acquired from consuming expired foods and drinks, and this includes cold brew. 

Can Old Cold Brew Make You Sick?

Yes, an old cold brew can make you sick.

To err on the side of safety, we never recommend consuming cold brew that is more than two weeks old. In addition, if you notice significant changes in taste, texture, or consistency, throw it out. 

As always, never consume anything with visible mold growth

Can Bacteria Grow in Cold Brew?

Since undiluted cold brews usually consist of only water and coffee grounds, you may assume that bacteria won’t grow in your drink. This, however, is untrue.

It is imperative that you properly store, refrigerate, and consume your cold brew within 14 days. After this, we advise you to throw away the cold brew. 

It’s easy enough to whip up a batch of it; so don’t take the risk! 

Proper Storage of Cold Brew

So, how can you properly store a cold brew? 

Easy! Follow these simple tips to store your cold brew for up to two weeks:

  • Store your cold brew in an air-tight container (preferably glass).
  • Avoid plastic containers when able, as these can impart toxins and unwanted flavors into the brew.
  • If cold brew is store-bought, refrigerate, and do not open until ready to consume.
  • Use a mason jar with a tight-fitting screw top lid.
  • Never leave your cold brew out overnight.
  • Always refrigerate your cold brew immediately after steeping.
  • Discard cold brew that shows signs of spoilage.
  • Do not attempt to keep cold brew longer than two weeks.
  • Store your cold brew in its undiluted state to keep it fresher for longer.
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Does Cold Brew Coffee Go Bad? The Answer Is a Definite Yes!

Cold brew can go bad just like any other coffee. And yes it can make you sick!

Tell-tale signs of a cold brew gone wrong is a bitter taste, weak aroma, no caffeine boost, and even mold growth. Always throw away any coffee you’ve had for over 14 days unless it is in an unopened store-bought bottle.

Hopefully, this helps! 

FAQ

Why is my cold brew cloudy?

A cold brew may appear cloudy if the grounds that were used to make it were too fine. Coarser grounds are best for cold brew.

What is floating in my cold brew coffee?

This could be a variety of things. It could be coarse coffee grounds that weren’t extracted, oils from the coffee that are coagulating, or even separation of your milk or cream. It could also be that your cup was dirty prior to use. If you’re super concerned, dump it out and opt for a new brew.

Can cold brew coffee mold?

Yes, it can. Any coffee containing mold should not be consumed. 

How do you make cold brew shelf stable?

To make cold brew shelf stable use a combination of scoured bottles, high-pressure pasteurization, or heat pasteurization, and be sure the cold brew has minimal contact with the air.

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Categorized as Journal

By Anna

Hey, I’m Anna; writer, editor and amateur cook extraordinaire! Food has been my life and my passion for the most of my life – it’s crazy to think I didn’t pursue a career in cooking. I’m obsessed! However, keeping cooking as an obsessive hobby has worked for me – my passion grows as the years pass by – maybe I wouldn’t say the same if it was also my day job! I hope you find cooking inspiration, entertainment and “stop and think interesting tid-bits” throughout my writing – and I’d love to hear from you if you’ve got anything you want to share. Food feeds the soul – so get eating!

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