So, you’ve spent a day, maybe two, making luxurious cold brew coffee. It’s silky smooth, wonderfully sweet, and ticks all the boxes for an amazing cup of coffee. How long can you store it? Well, like most things having to do with coffee, there’s no definite answer, but we’ll help you by sharing our successes, epic fails, and the things we would have liked to know all along. Starbucks was the first to introduce cold brew coffee to North America, and it quickly became a huge part of the brand. Today, you’ll find cold brew on the menu of most gourmet coffee shops and is a beloved brewing method for coffee lovers worldwide. We all know what happens when you leave open milk in the fridge, but what about cold brew?
Let's first sort out the misconception that cold brew refers to the temperature at which it is served. Actually, cold brew refers to a brewing method where the flavor is extracted from the beans using either room temperature or cold water. With hot water brewing, most of the flavor in your cup will degrade in less than thirty minutes, but with cold brew coffee, not as many solids are dissolved during brewing, allowing the flavor to last much longer. The long extraction time of cold brew results in a coffee concentrate that preserves flavor when stored correctly.
Cold brew coffee has become a popular home brewing method. It’s no wonder; it requires no specialized equipment, precision grinding, and can even be made without grinding the beans. All you need is time and patience. But cold brew coffee is a unique taste, and it’s not for everyone. It’s the cold brew coffee enthusiasts who frequently make it at home, and they preferred it as their regular cup of coffee. For them, storage isn’t an issue. The supply will be long gone in a couple of days. Twelve or twenty-four hours is a long time to wait for a cup of the good stuff, so some people brew in large quantities, and that’s where correct storage becomes a concern.
Back to the question. How long does cold brew last in the fridge? After all of our testing, we found the ideal storage time is seven to ten days. We have managed to store our brew for thirty days, but we recommend you consider less than two weeks a reasonable standard. Of course. The maximum storage time will depend on the freshness of the beans, roast type, level of cold brew concentrate, storage method, and storage temperature. Ultimately, your palette will determine the point at which the cold brew is no longer fresh. Let’s drill down into some of these factors to help get the best out of cold brew.
Choosing the right beans for cold brew coffee
If you want to store cold brew for more than a couple of days, you need to start with the right beans. Making cold brew with fresh beans is a must, and starting with whole beans, rather than pre-ground, is the way to go. A coarse grind is needed for cold brew, and most pre-ground coffee is too fine for the job. You don’t have to use the best quality beans, but they have to be freshly roasted.
A dark roast is ideal for cold brew. Since the extraction time takes hours, lighter roasts don’t stand up to this method of brewing. If you’re looking for fantastic cold brew coffee, we recommend our Night Owl Blend. These beans create a cold brew that is rich and creamy with notes of caramel, chocolate, and toasted walnuts, and they’re one-hundred percent USDA organic. You can also use the Night Owl Blend steeped coffee bags to make your cold brew coffee. Watch Emma create her Legendary Cold Brew. Using steeped coffee bags.
Store your cold brew in the fridge
Once you have finished brewing, keep your cold brew coffee in the fridge. That is if you're not drinking it right away. The cool temperature will prevent the coffee from molding and keep the flavor intact longer. We tried storing cold brew in the freezer, but it was a disaster. The high water content of the brew left ice crystals in the coffee, robbing it of flavor and aroma. Besides, keeping cold brew in the fridge means it’s always ready for a quick pour.
Should you dilute cold brew before storing it?
Cold brew is a coffee concentrate made using a brew ratio of 1:12 or one gram of coffee to twelve liters of water. To make it drinkable, the cold brew concentrate is diluted using one part water to one part coffee. So, once diluted, the volume of the cold brew coffee is doubled, making storage more difficult.
Another reason not to dilute is to maintain flexibility in how the coffee is served. Some people like a weaker cup, while others like it strong. Sometimes, you may want to dilute the cold brew concentrate with dairy or almond milk and you need to do that at the time of serving. A key advantage of cold brew is that it is a concentrate, so don’t take that away from the start.
What’s the best container for storing cold brew?
No matter how you performed the extraction, you need to store cold brew in a sealed container. This prevents further oxidation and traps in the flavors and aroma. You can use any sealable bottle, but glass works the best because it better transfers cold and keeps out any unwanted aromas from the fridge itself. With a large batch of cold brew coffee, you can store it in several bottles instead of just one.
We suggest you store your precious brew in our Cold Brew Mason Jar. Not only is it made of glass and seals tight, but you can also make cold brew coffee right in the jar and avoid a whole bunch of mess. When you open the fridge door, cold brew stored in this beauty will be calling your name.
How can you tell cold brew has spoiled?
Spoiled? You bet. Cold brew is like any other fresh produce, it has an expiry date. But there is no hard and fast rule to tell you when it has gone bad. Every batch of cold brew is different, and some will last longer than others. As we said earlier, you can count on a week, maybe two, but you likely won’t make it much longer than that. At first, you might not realize the brew has spoiled, but once you get the hang of it, the signs will be obvious.
How to tell cold brew has expired
Checking whether your cold brew is past its expiry date, is similar to checking if milked has spoiled, albeit less obvious. You look at it, you smell it, and if you dare, you taste it. The problem is, coffee isn’t milk and coffee lovers are fussy. Here are some steps to take if you want to know if your cold brew has expired.
- Look for the obvious: Examine the coffee to check if any mold has formed. Look under the bottle lid and check to make sure there is no mold floating in the brew. It may sound extreme, but it happens.
- Give your brew a sniff” You’ll already be familiar with the aroma you expect to find in coffee, and you will likely have tasted this batch before. When you smell the brew, the aromas should be as lively as they were last time. If the aroma is faint, it’s a sign the brew may have reached its limit.
- Taste the cold brew: If the brew has subdued flavors, or if it is overly acidic, the brew may have expired. In extreme cases, it may taste rancid and there's no doubt it has spoiled. But things may be less obvious. If you don't like the taste, and it's not what it once was, then make a new batch.
- Wait for the kick” When cold brew starts to go stale, the amount of caffeine diminishes. Keep in mind that because cold brew is diluted with equal parts water, it has less caffeine than a regular cup of hot coffee. Nonetheless, you will notice a difference in that good old kick when the brew gets a bit old.
Don’t throw away stale cold brew
At Chamberlain Coffee, we're all about saving the planet. That's why our coffee is packaged in renewable and compostable materials. But it doesn’t stop there. You can use leftover cold brew to water your house plants. Coffee can provide plants with loads of nitrogen and can act as a healthy fertilizer. Don’t overdo it. If the leaves turn yellow at the edges, you should stop watering them with coffee.
Don’t let cold brew go bad
Cold brew is way too special to leave spoil. Think of it like a good bottle of wine that was opened last night. You know it will go bad, so drink it! Get in the habit of making a batch of cold brew on Saturday or Sunday, and then keep it in the fridge for the rest of the week. It’s unlikely to go stale in those few days, and it will keep you supplied for your daily coffee boost.
We use all sorts of coffee brewing methods, but we’ve always got a bottle of cold brew in the fridge. When you want a cup, all you have to do is add water or pour it over ice. It’s always ready and is as quick as pouring a glass of water, but a whole lot better. If you are new to cold brew and want to give it a go, check out our Cold Brew Mason Jar Bundle for everything you need.
You can prevent your cold brew from ever going bad. Drink the stuff!!