Are you someone who nurses cold coffee throughout the day or partakes in drinking afternoon coffee that has been sitting on a burner for who knows how long? Have you ever wondered how long brewed coffee lasts? If this is you, we are about to open your eyes!
For well-versed coffee drinkers, the point of consumption comes down to knowing when coffee is at its best and staying away from the wretched “chain oil” found in diners, gas stations, and the workplace.
We are going to take you on a short journey of the life of a cup of coffee.
The Conception and Birth of a Brew
It all begins with a bean! The growth of the coffee bean is nurtured in the right climate and environment. Harvested at the perfect time, the bean travels to its destination, where it will undergo roasting.
The roasted bean then goes through grinding to ready it for hot water. The water is prepared at the ideal temperature, and the coffee grind is introduced — the two blend together, giving life to a brew.
As the brew pours forth in its new life, the aroma fills the air as it announces its arrival! Dispersed into a cup, mug, or container, the brew waits to be enjoyed. There is a short window for one to enjoy the full flavor profile of the brew before its life is gone.
Once the coffee beans are roasted, ground, and brewed, coffee in its purest form can only be appreciated and enjoyed within a matter of minutes!
When does freshly brewed coffee start to go bad?
So, the burning question still remains: “How long does brewed coffee last?”
A fresh cup of coffee should be consumed within 15-30 minutes.
Drinking it past that time window causes it to taste bitter and less than desirable. Solubles within the coffee start oxidizing. This lends itself to a very sour taste. The longer the coffee sits, the worse it tastes.
The chemical composition of coffee is altered as soon as oxygen/air and the brewed coffee make contact. This process, known as oxidation, leads to several changes in the coffee.
Oxygen molecules in the coffee produce a compound that bonds with hydrogen.
- Hydrogen in freshly brewed coffee is free, which lowers the pH (increasing the acidity.)
- As coffee stales, that hydrogen is captured by the bonding compound, preventing it from being free. This leads to sour and bitter-tasting coffee.
Water temperature affects oxidation in brewed coffee.
- The hotter the water, the faster the oxidation.
- As brewed coffee cools, there is a dismantling of compounds (acids, oils, aromatics), causing an increase in pH. This causes further bitterness and encourages the growth of mold.
What can I do to prevent my brewed coffee spoiling fast?
The most viable option to keeping your brewed coffee fresh, aromatic, and flavorful is to brew what you will consume. If you have a machine that grinds and brews, you have the perfect arrangement for freshness at its best!
Today’s coffee connoisseurs opt for bean to cup brewing in smaller batches to preserve peak freshness.
Don’t lose hope, though, because if you do happen to make more coffee than you can consume within 15-30 minutes, we have a few tips on using the coffee for the future.
- Remove brewed coffee from the burner immediately and pour into an airtight container. Keep in mind that every time you open that container to pour more coffee, the air causes it to oxidize further.
- Place leftover brewed coffee (in a carafe) in the refrigerator where it will be good for 1 week.
“I would say that coffee freshness has become like a religion today for the specialty coffee scene. Everyone wants that freshness.” – Dr. Chahan Yeretzian
Reusing Old Coffee Grounds
Use your leftover coffee in creative ways!
- Chilled Coffee
- Add milk, ice cubes made from coffee, and enjoy!
- Exfoliating Scrub
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- ¼ sugar
- ¼ coffee grounds
- 1 tbsp. cinnamon
- Meat Marinade (marinate beef for 8 hours in the refrigerator before cooking)
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup strong brewed coffee
- 1 cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
The Last “Sip”
The flavor of coffee is subjective since everyone experiences aroma and flavor individually. Because of this, we can’t definitively tell you at what point your stale coffee is going to insult your palate.
Having the answer to, “How long does brewed coffee last?” you know when coffee is at its best!
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