Have you ever accidentally left coffee creamer out on the counter, instead of putting it back in the fridge? If so, you may be wondering how safe this product is and how long it keeps for without being chilled or sealed.
How long can coffee creamer sit out? The amount of time that coffee creamer will last for depends heavily on whether it is dairy-based or not. Dairy-based coffee creamer must be stored in the fridge within two to four hours. Non-dairy-based coffee creamers may last for much longer, and some powered ones are supposed to be stored at room temperature and will last for months.
How Long Do Dairy-Based Coffee Creamers Last?
Dairy-based coffee creamers will only last for a few hours out of the fridge, and even less time if the temperature in the room is above 90 degrees F. You should always store this kind of coffee creamer in the fridge to keep it fresh, just like other dairy products.
There should be a clear expiry date on dairy-based coffee creamers, but in general, it will last for a couple of weeks in the fridge, depending on the brand and how it has been processed. Follow the guidance on the packaging for best results, but make sure it is stored below 40 degrees F at all times.
If coffee creamer is left out, it should be thrown away, as it will not be safe to consume.
Why Can Some Dairy-Based Coffee Creamers Be Stored at Room Temperature?
You may have noticed that some cafes have coffee creamers kept at room temperature with no issue. This is because this kind of coffee creamer has undergone Ultra High Temperature Pasteurization (it is a UHT product) and therefore it lasts at room temperature provided the product is kept sealed.
If you buy UHT coffee creamers, you can store them at room temperature safely for long periods of time before they are opened. Again, the packaging should be referred to as processes can vary, but in general, this kind of creamer should last between six and nine months until it has been opened.
Once open, this kind of creamer should be stored in the fridge to prevent bacterial spread.
How Do You Tell If Coffee Creamer Has Gone Bad?
If you have some coffee creamer that you are unsure about, the best thing to do is to smell it. Creamer that has gone off will likely smell sour or unpleasant.
You can also pour it into a clean cup and inspect it. If you see any trace of mold, or if the color of the creamer has changed (often turning yellow or brown), it is not safe to eat any more. Creamer that has gone lumpy or separated should be discarded.
If you are still uncertain, you can taste a tiny bit of the creamer. If it is off, it will taste sour. Throw it away as it will ruin your drink and may be unsafe to consume.
How Should You Store Powdered Coffee Creamer?
Powdered coffee creamer can usually be stored at room temperature. However, it should be kept airtight, because if it gets damp, mold will grow in it. Store unopened coffee creamer in a dry, dark cupboard.
Once you have opened it, transfer it to an airtight container and continue to keep it cool and dark. This will extend the lifespan of the product. It’s a good idea to keep the expiry date or write it on the new container so you know how soon the creamer will need to be used up.
If the coffee creamer gets wet, it should be thrown away, as mold will quickly start to grow in damp creamer. It is only kept safe by being too dry to allow for bacterial growth.
How Should You Store Single Portion Coffee Creamers?
This depends on the coffee creamer. Some need to be refrigerated, while others are fine at room temperature. The best way to tell is to look at where you got it from in the store, or read the packaging.
If you took the single portion creamers from a shelf that is not cooled, they should be stable at room temperature. You can store them in a cool cupboard until they have been opened.
If you took the coffee creamer from a refrigerator, you will need to keep it cold. Place it in your refrigerator as soon as possible to maintain its shelf life.
If You Don’t Know What Kind of Creamer It Is; How Should You Store It?
If you aren’t sure what kind of creamer you bought, the best solution is to read the packaging. This should tell you what it is, how to store it, and how long it should keep for once it has been opened.
Almost all opened liquid coffee creamer will need to be kept in the fridge, regardless of the brand that you choose. Even those that have been heat treated to make them stable at room temperature while sealed need to be refrigerated once they have been opened.
Do not store opened liquid coffee creamer at room temperature for more than four hours, or two hours if it is warm in the house.
In general, these need to be used up within a week or two weeks of being opened, whatever brand or type you buy. Non-dairy ones may last slightly longer, but they will still have a shelf life. This should be stated on the packaging.
Don’t store powdered coffee creamers in the fridge unless the manufacturer instructs this. Most of these products need to be kept dry in order to preserve them. Putting them in the fridge will introduce unwanted moisture and cause them to go off.
Most opened coffee creamers need to be refrigerated within two to four hours, depending on how warm the room is. Some can be stored at room temperature before they have been opened, but this does depend upon the brand and how it has been treated.
If in doubt about some coffee creamer, it is best to throw it away, as harmful bacteria could have formed inside the liquid.