Have you ever made a jug of iced coffee, set it in the fridge, and then forgotten about it and wondered whether it is still okay to drink? It’s always important to check before consuming it, because foodborne bacteria can be dangerous and might make you very sick.
How long can you keep iced coffee in the fridge? How long coffee keeps for depends on whether you have mixed any creamer or milk into it, and how you made the coffee initially. Iced coffee should keep for about two weeks if it has no added dairy, and it is stored in an airtight container. If you’ve added dairy, it will only last for a couple of days.
How Long Can You Keep Iced Coffee For?
You can keep iced coffee in the fridge for a couple of weeks, but its flavor will start to deteriorate after about three days, and you may find that it isn’t as pleasant. However, it will remain safe and drinkable, if it is kept cold and stored in an airtight container.
Ideally, you should aim to use iced coffee up much more quickly than this two-week estimate. Coffee beans taste best when they are fresh, and the longer you leave the coffee, the less flavorful and pleasant it will be.
Chilling will stop the bacterial spread that would make coffee unsafe, but it doesn’t keep the coffee fresh. The liquid will lose its taste and take on a stale flavor if it is left standing around for too long – just as the beans lose their flavor when they are stored for too long.
How Can You Make Iced Coffee Last Better?
Iced coffee will keep best if you don’t add any dairy to it, as dairy has a short shelf life. You also need to make sure that the jug of coffee goes into the fridge as soon as possible, rather than being left on the counter, and that you put an airtight lid on it to prevent cross-contamination with other foods and reduce the flow of oxygen.
All of these things will help the coffee to last well, but you should also consider cold brewing your coffee, rather than making hot coffee and leaving it to cool down. Hot brewing increases the amount of time that the coffee stays at room temperature for and leaves it in the “danger zone” between 40- and 140-degrees F for much longer.
Bacteria like warm environments, so if you make hot coffee and let it gradually cool, it won’t last as well as coffee that was made cold and chilled immediately. However, if you do want to make hot brewed coffee and then chill it, you should try to cool it as quickly as you can.
You can do this by pouring it into a cold, shallow container. This will increase its surface area and encourage the heat to dissipate more quickly.
You should then tip the coffee into an airtight container and place it in the fridge as soon as it has reached room temperature. Don’t put hot coffee in the fridge, as the heat will alter the temperature within the fridge and could affect the safety of other foods that you have stored in there.
What About Store-Bought Coffee?
If you’ve picked up an iced coffee from your favorite coffee shop and failed to finish it, you might be wondering if it can go in the fridge. The answer depends on how you have handled it up to this point, but usually, it’s okay to refrigerate it again.
You should assess how long the iced coffee has been out of the fridge, what ingredients are in it, and how warm it has got in the interim period.
If you have left the iced coffee on a hot dashboard or in your kitchen when the weather is warm, you need to be careful about drinking it. It’s usually okay, but if you have any doubts, it’s best to throw it away, rather than risk making yourself sick with spoiled coffee.
This is particularly true if the coffee contains any dairy. Black coffee or coffee made with plant milk may last better, even when it’s left at room temperature. However, you should still be careful.
If the coffee has been left in a warm place for more than a few hours, you should throw it away. If it has been left out but not for very long, in a cool environment, it should be fine to refrigerate it again, especially if it doesn’t contain milk or cream.
Even if the coffee was kept reasonably cool while out of the fridge, you should still be looking to use it up within a couple of days, rather than storing it for weeks. Spending time at room temperature gives bacteria time to spread in the coffee, and it won’t keep as well as it would have if it had been chilled from the start.
Can You Freeze Coffee?
Yes, you can store coffee in your freezer if you’ve made a lot and you aren’t going to use it up. It won’t taste as great as freshly brewed coffee, but it should keep well, and you can then thaw it when you’re ready to use it.
Try to freeze it in small portions so you don’t end up with large amounts in your fridge. Some people opt to freeze coffee in ice cube trays, as this helps it to defrost quickly when it is wanted. You can also use the coffee ice cubes in other drinks to chill them and add a dash of caffeine.
If you want it as a drink on its own, thaw your frozen coffee in the fridge, and store it in an airtight container so that it doesn’t absorb flavors from other foods in your fridge.
Iced coffee should keep well in the fridge, provided you store it properly and you don’t add dairy until you’re ready to drink it. Its flavor may slightly deteriorate, as freshly brewed coffee always tastes better than stored coffee, but it will remain safe to drink for up to two weeks in most cases.