Cold brew is one of the latest trends in coffee. Until recently, hot coffee and iced drinks were the predominant coffee options. Now those who want something different in their cup of Joe can opt to try a cold brew drink.
What a coffee novice may not know is that cold brew is merely the name of the coffee process. It has nothing to do with the actual temperature of the drink. The method of making cold brew refers to steeping grinds at room temperature. Most coffee chains traditionally sell it as a cold beverage (ex: Starbucks cold brew is advertised on ice), but it is possible to drink a hot cold brew drink.
Since cold brew has become so popular, it begs the question of how long does cold brew coffee last? Are there steps to take to make your cold brew last longer? There can be some varying answers to that question. Many factors can shorten or extend the life of your coffee.
How Long Does Cold Brew Last?
The length of time that cold brew coffee can last will vary. Estimates range anywhere from seven days to two weeks. The best way to make your cold brew last longer is to keep it refrigerated. Undiluted cold brew can last in the fridge for two weeks. Dilute or cut your cold brew with water or milk once you are ready to drink a glass, not before.
An undiluted cold brew is a highly potent coffee concentrate. To drink it, you pretty much have to dilute it. Take note, however, that you cut into the product’s shelf life once you dilute cold brew. Diluted cold brew only lasts 2-3 days, even in the fridge.
If you leave cold brew out at room temperature, the shelf life of the product is extremely short. It can be equated to the life span of iced tea when left at room temperature. The flavor will sour quickly, and the product will mold shortly after. This could shorten the life of your cold brew to less than a day.
How To Make Cold Brew Coffee Last Longer
In addition to not diluting your cold brew until you are ready to drink it, there are additional steps you can take to make your cold brew last longer. Some of these steps you can take during the brewing process.
- Use high-quality beans for your brew. This doesn’t mean use your very best brand new beans, but don’t use old coffee beans or bad quality coffee beans either. Make sure your beans aren’t expired or burnt before grinding them. The type of beans and their quality can have a considerable impact on the flavor.
- Don’t grind your beans too fine. This isn’t a pour-over. To extract the best flavor from your grinds for cold brew, you want to grind your beans coarsely. You can grind them similarly to how you would for a French press. If you make the grinds too fine, it will pull too much flavor during the extraction process. That will give your cold brew a bitter taste. Unless that is what you are going for, you will be very disappointed.
- Use the correct ratio during the brewing process. You want one pound of beans to one gallon of water. If you vary too much from that, your flavor profile will be off. If you are making a smaller batch, scale down accordingly.
- Pay attention to how long you steep your brew. If you don’t let it steep for long enough, the flavor profile will never develop. Twelve hours is the very least your cold brew should steep; 14-16 hours is preferable. If you steep your brew for 20-24 hours, it is possible that is too long, and your coffee will be bitter.
How To Tell If Your Cold Brew Coffee Is Bad?
We’ve already outlined what timeframe you should use to consider your cold brew expired. Here are some other things you should be on the lookout for when enjoying your cup of Joe.
- Your cold brew tastes stale. For people who brew their own, this is the first sign that their bottle/pitcher has gone bad.
- When you notice a strange smell emanating from your coffee, that is a sign your coffee has gone bad. If you notice that your cold brew smells sour, rancid, or woody, that is a sign your coffee is spoiled and no longer acceptable for consumption.
- If you take a sip of your coffee and notice it doesn’t taste like coffee anymore, that is a sign that your coffee is no longer good. Not everyone smells their drink before taking a sip, so odd smells can get past a person. However, there is no mistaking the taste of bad coffee. Spoiled coffee can taste like rancid fruit, vinegar, wood, or something sour. If you notice these in your cold brew’s flavor profile, discard it asap.
If you buy your cold brew from a store, check first for an expiration date. Some companies brew small batches of coffee that have shorter shelf lives than commercial companies that make large batches. Smaller companies will be more in line with the two week expiration time frame. Larger companies employ methods such as pasteurization and pressurization. Products created with those techniques can last 3-6 months.
Some home brewers forget the step of straining their cold brew after the steeping process is complete. If cold brew isn’t appropriately strained, a person will drink the grinds alongside the liquid. This doesn’t mean this batch of coffee is “bad” or “spoiled” in the conventional sense. However, it doesn’t taste or feel good to drink grinds. The smarter choice would be to strain the batch again or remake it.
Can You Leave Cold Brew Coffee Out Of The Fridge?
As has already been discussed in this article, you can not leave your cold brew out of the fridge long term. Refrigeration is the primary way to make your cold brew last longer. However, that doesn’t mean your product can’t sit out during the steeping process.
The debate rages between coffee connaisseurs if cold brew should be steeped solely in the fridge, strictly out of the fridge, or a combination thereof. Regardless of what method you use, part of your success is the container you use for your cold brew.
Cold brew coffee can be made in batches, both small and large. This also means you can use containers of all sizes as well. If you adjust your brew to match the size of your container, what you make will continue to be just as tasty. Here are some popular options for containers to make your cold brew. If you are just getting started, almost all of these are already in your kitchen.
The Best Cold Brew Storage Options
- Mason jars– These jars are a popular option for cold brew coffee. There are a couple of different sizes available on the market. They are excellent options for small batches that you plan to drink quickly or share with a small group of people. They even come with their own sealable lids.
- Reuseable water bottles– When you hear reusable water bottle, this doesn’t mean your Aquafina bottle. It means higher-end reusable water bottles. Like mason jars, these provide you with a way to make a small batch in a container with a lid.
- A French press– These are traditionally for making hot coffee, but they can double as a vessel for cold brew making.
- A teapot– While normally used for making hot tea, a teapot is great for someone making a small personal batch of cold brew.
- Pots and pans– For people who are just testing out the process of making cold brew at home, these items found in everyone’s’ home will help you make some decent cold brew.
Cold Brew Coffee Makers
If you are experienced at making cold brew or have the money to invest in a more sophisticated device, here are some professional options for you to consider. These cold brew devices are considered your best buys per Wired Magazine, which is a resource for all technical gadgets.
- Primula Burke Immersion Brewer- https://amzn.to/3cUGSOc
- Oxo Cold Brew Coffee Maker- https://amzn.to/2AOXEjJ
- Bruer Cold Brew Maker- https://amzn.to/2zgJmYD
- Kitchen Aid Cold Brew Maker- https://amzn.to/2ALjQep
- Country Line Kitchen Cold Brew Maker- https://amzn.to/3d26VTu
These devices were all highly ranked because of price, ease of use, the functionality of design, the ability to produce grit-free brew, or the volume of coffee produced. Depending upon what is the most important criteria for you will help you determine your best machine. For more information, you can visit Wired.
There are many tips you can take to make your cold brew last longer. Some are steps you can take during the brewing process, like choosing good quality beans and not grinding them too fine. Others are steps you can take after, such as refrigeration and not diluting your brew. Make sure once you finish brewing that you refrigerate your product to prevent spoiling. You have many options to brew at home. You can use everyday household items like pots and pans, or you can invest in a professional brewing device.
Below is a Pinterest friendly picture so you don’t lose this post!
Other Posts You Might Enjoy