How Long Does Cold Brew Last? Shelf Life In And Out of Fridge

By Evelina •  Updated: 07/15/22 •  9 min read

If you love cold brew then you know how long it takes to make it. 12-24 hours of waiting for that smooth, sweet, slightly acidic beverage we all know and love. So when we finally have it in our hands, we want to make sure it lasts as long as possible.

Today we’re talking about how long cold brew lasts, both in and out of the fridge. We will also share some cold brew storage tips to help keep your coffee tasting fresh for longer.

Does Cold Brew Go Bad?

cold brew has gone bad

When we think about cold brew coffee, the first two things that come to mind are convenience and health benefits! It’s a brewed coffee that’s been steeped in cold water for an extended period of time, which means you can make a big batch and have it on hand in the fridge for when you need it. But how long does cold brew coffee last, really?

The good news is that cold brew coffee has a pretty long shelf life. There are indeed a few things that can affect how long your cold brew will last, but if stored correctly, it can easily stay fresh for 2-3 weeks.

How Long Does Cold Brew Last Unrefrigerated?

Forgetting your cold brew in the car on a hot day is definitely a bummer, but is it still safe to drink? Well, that depends.

If your cold brew is sitting out at room temperature for less than 16 hours, it should be fine. Beyond that, there is a chance that bacteria could start to grow, making the coffee unsafe to drink.

There are certain bacteria that thrive in coffee, and while they might not make you sick, they can definitely affect the taste of your coffee. So if you leave your cold brew out for more than 16 hours, it’s best to toss it and start fresh.

Important: This is especially true with hot coffee. We see many times professional baristas trying to serve the coffee as fast as possible since oxidation is a major quality killer in coffee.

Read Also: Cold Brew vs Hot Brew Coffee: Which One Is For You?

How Long Does Cold Brew Last in The Fridge?

On the other hand, when you store your cold brew concentrate in the fridge, it can last up to two weeks. So, if you make a big batch of concentrate and keep it in the fridge, you can have iced coffee for two weeks straight!

Of course, the quality of your cold brew will start to degrade after a week or so. But if you don’t mind a slightly less flavorful coffee, then two weeks is definitely doable.

Cold Brew Coffee Storage Tips.

shelf life of cold brew

Hoping your cold brew to last longer won’t help if you don’t store it properly. These are our top tips for storing cold brew so it stays fresh and delicious:

1. Always Store In An Airtight Container.

This is crucial! If your cold brew is exposed to oxygen, it will start to stale quickly. So make sure you store it in an airtight container. This can be a mason jar, a plastic container, or even a thermos.

An airtight container is a must, but without the fridge, your cold brew will only last for a day or two.

2. Keep It Cold.

As the name suggests, cold brew coffee is best kept cold. This will help slow down the aging process and keep your coffee tasting fresh for longer.

If you don’t have space in your fridge, you can also store your cold brew in the freezer. Just make sure to thaw it overnight in the fridge before you want to drink it.

3. Transform it to Ice Cubes!

This one is more of a cold brew hack than a storage tip. But if you find that your cold brew is starting to lose its flavor, you can always transform it into ice cubes!

Just pour your cold brew into an ice cube tray and freeze it. Then, when you make a new batch of cold brew, you can add a few of these cubes to the mix, and voila, instant flavor boost!

4. Store in Your French Press Coffee Maker.

Store Cold Brew in Your French Press.

Okay, this may sound a bit weird, but hear us out. If you have a French press that’s big enough, you can actually store your cold brew in there!

When you’re ready to drink it, just give the French press a few good pumps, and you’ll have fresh cold brew coffee concentrate in no time.

Again, make sure you store your French Press in the fridge so your cold brew doesn’t go bad.

5. The Right Ratio.

This is a tip that you need to do before brewing your cold brew, but it’s still worth mentioning. If you want your cold brew to have a long shelf life, you need to make sure you get the ratio of coffee to water right.

The general coffee-to-water ratio for cold brew is 1:16. So for every 1 gram of coffee, you’ll need 16 grams of water. This may seem like a lot of water, but it’s actually necessary to extract all the flavors from the coffee.

Of course, you can always experiment with this ratio to find one that suits your taste.

6. Dilute Before Storing.

Last but not least, always dilute your cold brew before storing it. This may seem counterintuitive, but it’s actually the best way to keep your cold brew coffee drink from going bad.

When you dilute your cold brew, you’re essentially creating a less concentrated coffee that will last longer. So, if you want your cold brew to have a long shelf life, make sure you dilute it before storing it.

What Else Can Make Cold Brew Go Bad Even Faster?

What Can Make Cold Brew Go Bad Even Faster

Except for not storing it properly, there are a few other things that can make your cold brew go bad. From my experience, these are the most common offenders.

1. Using Old Coffee Beans.

This is a mistake that a lot of people make. They assume that since cold brew is such a forgiving brewing method, they can use old coffee beans and still get a delicious cup of coffee.

Wrong! If your coffee beans are old, your cold brew will be old too. So make sure you use fresh, high-quality coffee beans to get the best possible results.

2. Brewing for Too Long.

Another common mistake is brewing your cold brew for too long. If you brew your cold brew for more than 24 hours, it will start to get a bit of a bitter taste. This doesn’t mean that it will go bad, but the taste will definitely not be as good as it could be.

So, if you want to make the best possible cold brew, make sure you brew it for no more than 24 hours.

3. Incorrect Water Temperature.

If you use water that’s too hot before brewing, it can actually scald the coffee beans and make your cold brew taste bad.

The best way to brew your cold brew is to fill the cold brew coffee maker, or whatever vessel you’re using, with room temperature water. Then, add your coffee grounds, stir and put it in the fridge.

4. Your Ground Coffee Beans are Too Fine.

If your coffee beans are too fine, it will make your cold brew over-extract and taste bad. The truth behind over-extraction is that it makes coffee more bitter. If you want to make the best possible cold brew, make sure your grind is medium-coarse.

Although most of these things don’t necessarily make cold brew go bad, they can definitely affect the taste. Many coffee shops don’t know how to properly make cold brew, so they end up making it too weak or too strong, which can make it taste bad.

Cold Brew is not regular coffee! Always keep that in mind when making it.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does Cold Brew Last - FAQs

How Long Does Cold Brew Last After The Expiration Date?

It’s best to avoid consuming any product that passed its expiration date, especially cold brew coffee. If you must, check the coffee for signs of spoilage before consuming it. These include an off-putting smell, mold growth, and changes in color or texture.

If only a day or two has passed the expiration date, your cold brew coffee is likely still safe to drink. However, its quality will have diminished, so it may not taste as good as it once did.

It’s best to buy a new bottle or even better, make your own cold brew at home! Not only is it more affordable, but you can also control the quality of ingredients used.

How Long Does Cold Brew Last in Your System?

Like any other type of coffee, half of the caffeine cold brew coffee has will stay in your system for around 6 hours (1). In 10-12 hours, most of the caffeine will have been metabolized and cleared from your body.

How Long Does Cold Brew Last Unopened?

If you have a bottle of cold brew, let’s say from Starbucks, that is unopened and has been in the fridge, it will last till the expiration date. If you have an opened bottle of cold brew, it will only last for 2 weeks in the fridge before it starts to spoil.

How Long Does Cold Brew Last in A Keg?

A keg is a container used to store and transport beer or other carbonated beverages. Kegs are often made of aluminum or stainless steel. A standard keg holds about 15.5 gallons (58.7 L) of liquid.

If you were to store cold brew coffee in a keg, it would last for about 3 months before it starts to spoil. The nitrogen will expand the life of the coffee and keep it fresh for a longer period of time.

Final Thoughts

I hope after this article you still have the will to continue making and drinking cold brew coffee! It truly is a delicious beverage that can be enjoyed all year round.

Don’t forget to follow everything mentioned in this article to ensure your cold brew coffee lasts as long as possible.

Happy Brewing!


Evelina’s passion for coffee could never been hidden. Having worked as a barista, she learned the true value of the coffee bean and its secrets. As she continued to evolve as a barista, so did her knowledge, techniques on making different coffee blends and most importantly how to operate every kind of gear when it comes to coffee. Having a degree in biomedicine and being a barista, allows her to provide our community with in-depth knowledge surrounding the topics of coffee.

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