Have you ever tried your arm with some leftover coffee from a French press?
If so, you’ll already have established that coffee is rapidly past its best as soon as it’s been brewed.
For anyone in a hurry, we’ll get right down to business addressing today’s core query…
How Long is Brewed Coffee Good For?
TL:DR – Not very long!
If you don’t keep brewed coffee in an airtight thermos, left exposed you will find a degradation in flavor within 30 minutes of the coffee brewing.
The reason for this?
Coffee continues to oxidize even after it’s been brewed.
To better understand why coffee is best enjoyed well within 30 minutes of serving, we’ll dive down in more detail on the process of oxidation and how this relates to you, the coffee consumer.
The Oxidation Process Explained
When coffee is exposed to the elements, a process called oxidation is initiated. This causes the many flavor compounds in the coffee to start spoiling.
If you store your coffee beans in an airtight environment, you can put a halt to this process.
Once you grind your beans, this process of oxidation is accelerated.
When you then brew your coffee using your chosen method, oxidation continues as the ground coffee starts releasing its flavors, aromas, and oils into the finished drink.
What Happens If Oxidation Continues Too Far
While the essential process of oxidation leads to the aromatic and flavor-packed drink you crave each morning, what happens when this process continues too far?
Well, if you leave coffee sitting, whether in a carafe after making up some French press, or in a drip coffee maker once pulled through, it soon starts to degrade in terms of taste and smell. Too much exposure top oxygen alters the pH level of the drink. The resultant taste is stale and bitter.
The worst brewing method to use if you leave the coffee too long is a French press. Once you have pushed down on the plunger, this coffee will continue oxidizing with a bitter taste manifesting itself rapidly. This is why we always advise you to buy a French press capable of making the amount of coffee you’ll drink in a single sitting. French press coffee never responds well to sitting around.
The Best Way To Brew Coffee
Now, we will highlight best practice here in broad strokes. With so many different brewing methods, the specifics of making your cup of joe might vary, but the core essentials should be the same.
- Start with fresh, filtered water: With 98% of the contents of your cup being water, it pays to start off using the best quality water possible. If you don’t use bottled water, you should ensure that faucet water is adequately filtered. Do this and you’ll give your coffee a crisp and cool taste
- Use a scale to weigh out fresh coffee beans: Gauging the weight of coffee beans by volume is a recipe for failure. Instead, invest in a digital coffee scale so you can get the weight of your coffee beans and grounds right. You’ll also be able to measure out your water so you can always get the water/coffee ratio spot-on
- Grind your beans right before brewing with a conical burr grinder: Always use a grinder, whether that’s a manual grinder or our preferred option, an electric burr grinder. Never grind up too many beans at once. You should focus purely on the amount of coffee you need for the brew coming up. Blitzing up a reserve is a bad idea. Grind only what you need
- Get the water temperature right using a thermometer on your kettle: Consider using a dedicated kettle when you’re making coffee. A gooseneck kettle works well if you’re using the pour-over method. You can also find plenty of kettles that come with an integrated thermometer. This allows you to easily get the water temperature right every time
- Use your preferred brewing method: Now, there’s no right or wrong here. Many purists feel espresso just like the Italians drink it is the best way to consume coffee. For others, there’s nothing to rival the simplicity and flavor of a classic French press. Some coffee lovers enjoy tinkering with elaborate brewing methods like the siphon system or pour-over coffee. Others can’t get enough of the single-serve coffee machine or super-automatic espresso machine. All that counts here is finding the most suitable brewing method for you. In some cases, this might be a combination of several different brewing methods
OK, we’ll round out with some answers to the most frequently asked questions about how long coffee is good for after being brewed.
1) Can I drink coffee that’s been leftover all day?
Why bother? This coffee just won’t taste good even if it was great to begin with. Do yourself a favor and throw it away. Coffee does not respond well to storage, period.
2 ) Is it worth storing my leftover coffee in the fridge?
No. You can safely keep coffee in the refrigerator for up to a week, but that doesn’t mean it’s worth doing so. Unless you’re keeping coffee concentrate or cold brew coffee, don’t bother putting your coffee leftovers in the fridge.
3) I put milk in my coffee. How long can I leave this outside the fridge?
For no more than 2 hours according to the FDA.
Before you head off, don’t forget to bookmark LaMano as your go-to resource for all things caffeinated.
Whether you’re looking for some basic brewing tips, or you want impartial advice on the best coffee gear, you can always rely on our trustworthy team. Pop back soon as we have a busy content calendar lined up for the coming months. We’ll see you soon!