How Long Does Brewed Coffee Last?

How long does brewed coffee last? It really depends on the temperature and what you do with it after it has cooled down.

How Long Does Brewed Coffee Last
Things you can do to keep from wasting that forgotten liquid caffeine goodness

I probably speak for more than just myself here by saying that one of my bad habits is brewing a cup of coffee, getting distracted by the kids, and then remembering it an hour later. It’s really the plight of most parents and even those who don’t have children but just lead busy lives

If you regularly neglect your cup of java and have questions about whether or not it is still drinkable, you’re in luck. This guide not only gives you the answer you’re looking for, but also gives you a few ideas on what you can do to keep from wasting that forgotten liquid caffeine goodness.

Timeframe for Drinking Brewed Coffee

Ideally, the best time to drink brewed coffee is when it is fresh and hot. The reason is the oils in the beans are released and give you the ideal flavor. Most coffee enthusiasts agree that if you’re going to really enjoy your beverage, this is what you want.

But that isn’t always realistic. As I mentioned before, life happens and distractions come up where you aren’t able to drink it within the first thirty minutes.

That said, room-temperature black coffee is safe to drink for up to four hours after brewing. If you’ve added cream or other dairy ingredients, that figure cuts down to two hours. Those who drink almond, coconut, or other non-dairy creams in their coffee should be fine somewhere in the middle of about three hours.

How Long Does Brewed Coffee Last in the Refrigerator?

During the summer months, drinking iced coffee is a wonderful afternoon treat. However, you don’t want to just plop ice cubes into a hot brew, which can melt and then water down the flavor. The alternative is to brew coffee and keep it cold in the refrigerator for a few days.

Generally, you can get away with drinking brewed coffee kept in the refrigerator for up to six days. After this point, the flavor starts to diminish and mold can start to grow. The best idea is to pour the brewed coffee into a sealable pitcher or container, which will keep the air out and improve freshness.

Again, this assumes we are talking about black coffee without any sweeteners or cream. You’ll want to wait to put those things in your beverage when you’re actually ready to drink it.

Can You Freeze Brewed Coffee?

Yes, you can definitely freeze brewed coffee. In fact, this is a great way to keep from wasting a cup that you forgot about after hitting that brew button. Frozen coffee lasts for up to six weeks without losing flavor.

Again, don’t add any special flavors, creams, or sweeteners. Those can always be included when you’re making the beverage you plan to drink. Dairy can sometimes separate during the freezing method and some sweeteners don’t retain flavor as well after being exposed to cold temps.

The important thing to remember when freezing brewed coffee is what you plan to do with it later. Trying to scrape coffee icicles from the bottom of a container can be a pain, so opt for something that’s easy to heat up or remove. A standard ice tray is great for freezing brewed coffee, as the java cubes you end up with are an ideal addition to your favorite iced coffee beverage.

Can You Get Sick from Drinking Old Coffee?

The answer to this depends on two factors: what you put in the coffee and the length of time since it was brewed. While the flavor of the coffee starts to deteriorate somewhere between thirty minutes when it cools and four hours, it won’t exactly make you sick. It just won’t taste as good as it did when you first brewed it.

How Long Does Brewed Coffee Last
Dairy products added in coffee can cause stomach issues

If you’ve added dairy products, the maximum amount of time you have to drink your beverage is two hours. This is when milk and cream start to go bad after sitting out, putting you at risk for stomach issues. And we all know food poisoning is a bigger problem than forgetting a cup of brewed coffee!

Never drink coffee that has been at room temperature for over twelve hours. Cold coffee is a playground for bacteria growth and will generally have mold spores by this point, even if you can’t quite see them. Again, wasting one cup of coffee is a much smaller problem than ending up ill by drinking it.

The Final Word on How Long Does Brewed Coffee Last?

No matter what distraction causes you to miss out on a cup of hot coffee, we’ve all had it happen. By understanding the various time periods for drinking brewed java, you can help keep yourself from getting sick and still enjoy that rich flavor.

FAQs on How Long Does Brewed Coffee Last?

Does Microwaving Brewed Coffee Kill the Bacteria?

The answer is both yes and no. Microwaves can kill bacteria in your coffee, but usually only towards the outside of the mug. There’s still a chance that you could get sick if the coffee is especially old.

What Happens If You Accidentally Drink Old Coffee?

The truth, is probably nothing. But this is a question similar to what happens if you accidentally drink antifreeze. Risking it isn’t really worth becoming ill the next day, so you’re probably better off just dumping it down the drain.

How Can You Tell That Brewed Coffee Has Gone Bad?

If you’re picking up a cup of coffee that is a few hours old, you’ll be able to tell it has gone bad if there’s no aroma. While this won’t make you sick, it means that much of the flavor in the brew is gone and the taste won’t be as enjoyable.


  • Cian Murray

    Cian Murray is an experienced writer and editor, who graduated from Cardiff University’s esteemed School of Journalism, Media and Culture. His work has been featured in both local and national media, and he has also produced content for multinational brands and agencies. Find Cian on