It’s been long debated, and in recent years hipsters have become the governing authorities who decided that it expires after 2 minutes, or something like that. Was it 2 seconds?
Jokes aside, there are many conflicting opinions about this predicament. Just how long is coffee good for?
How long can you let old Joe sit after he was once nice and warm, now that he’s become so seemingly cold and stale?
I’ve heard answers ranging from 30 minutes to 24 hours, or longer if you keep the coffee in an airtight container in the fridge.
Coffee doesn’t turn into poison after 30 minutes; it doesn’t become radioactive waste that must be disposed of either.
Although, I’ve heard if you reheat coffee, hipsters will put you in quarantine. They also gain legal right to strip you of any plaid, ironic V-neck shirt, and/or beard privileges.
The oldest cup of coffee I’ve consumed was 48 hours old. It was far from delicious but it wasn’t morbid either, actually.
And sometimes, still, if I have to get up too early the next morning and I know I won’t have time or energy to make a cup of coffee, I will make one cup of coffee before I go to bed and then reheat it when I get up in 7 or 8 hours.
There’s seriously not a huge taste difference.
I told you up front it would be the simple answer.
So to not lie, here’s the simple answer: brewed coffee is good for about 12 hours.
If you came to just know the short answer, there you go. The 12 hour “cuplife” is not only my personal opinion, it’s also supported in other places.
Can You Reheat Coffee?
If anyone says that coffee should not be reheated and that it expires when it cools down, I’d like to believe they have the best intentions.
But it makes me wonder if they work in the industry and it’s a sales technique, or they just listened to 50 other hipsters (oh I mean, people) who said the same thing. It’s simply untrue.
You certainly can reheat coffee.
If you do a Google search for “can you reheat coffee” there is a high-ranking article that boldly touts multiple times that ‘one must throw out one’s coffee out when it cools. Coffee is a one-time thing.’
Four out of six comments on that article say something to the effect of, ‘Seriously? I drink reheated or microwaved coffee all the time from the same day and it tastes perfectly fine.’
Food doesn’t usually expire after a few bites, right?
Neither does coffee usually expire after a few sips.
Whole Beans, Ground Coffee, Brewed Coffee
Here is a breakdown of how long coffee, in all its lovely forms, is good for. And since I love bullet points…
- Whole bean coffee: 4 weeks
- Ground coffee: 3 weeks
- Brewed coffee: 12 hours
For each of these, the coffee will begin to lose its flavor at these times.
But you are safe to stick with these guidelines and your coffee will almost definitely have no significant loss of flavor; the flavor profile should still be fully in tact.
Even after, you could still try to brew the coffee and see how it tastes.
While you can put coffee beans in the freezer to preserve it, there shouldn’t be any need to do this! It’s a much better idea to buy a reasonable amount of coffee that you can use in one month (if it’s whole bean).
If you do need to keep coffee for long-term – more than one month – my suggestion is to buy a smaller bag if possible, make sure it’s sealed tightly, and keep away from direct sunlight.
Putting it in the freezer could help to preserve the flavor, and I enjoyed when I did it!
But there’s not really any proof that it preserves the flavor.
If your coffee loses the aroma, that’s probably a sign that it’s losing its flavor.
Seal Your Coffee Well
Have you ever had a bag of chips and left it open overnight or for a whole day and noticed just how stale it becomes so quickly?
It’s similar with coffee. If your coffee isn’t tightly sealed in the bag or container, the flavor sprouts wings and flies away.
I hate it when people don’t close a bag of chips tightly to prevent staleness, and I hate when coffee isn’t properly sealed to preserve its freshness. Coffee is like food in many ways.
To preserve it as well as possible, it’s very important to seal it properly.
Oxygen, light and moisture don’t go well with coffee beans!
What Experts Say
To be sure, it will always taste best if you just make fresh coffee rather than reheat it.
The nice thing about making coffee at home is that, relatively speaking, it’s easy to do and doesn’t take long.
French press, the brew method that takes longest, takes maybe five to 10 minutes if you include heating the water. Home-brewed coffee is also amazingly inexpensive…
The cost of making coffee at home is 16 to 18 cents per cup.
Here is a quote from an aforementioned article about how long brewed coffee keeps for…
Todd Carmichael, the CEO of La Colombe coffee roasters, says this, “Reheating reorganizes the chemical makeup of the coffee and totally ruins the flavor profile. Some things just don’t work to reheat, and coffee is one of them.”
This seems slightly exaggerated, or is it just me?
Reheating anything in the microwave will reorganize chemical structure, or on the stove for that matter. It’s not a question of chemical makeup. To say that the flavor profile is totally ruined is a huge overstatement.
If it’s within a few hours, it doesn’t significantly change.
The coffee that seems to go bad or isn’t good when reheated is coffee that was already not so pleasant when it was made. In other words, it didn’t go bad, it already was bad.
Carmichael goes on to make a good point that if your coffee from the morning is cold in the coffee pot, it’s a good idea to just add ice cubes and make it an iced coffee.
That’s a smart idea and I certainly agree because it’s quick, simple, and iced coffee is a delicious and underrated beverage!
The opinion that coffee instantly goes bad is shared by many “experts”. There’s a point to it – that the best way to have coffee is to always brew a fresh batch or cup – you won’t hear me argue with that!
But to say that you can’t reheat coffee and that the flavor dies and goes to coffee heaven when it cools seems exaggerated at best, flat out ridiculous at worst.
If you want this barista’s opinion, certain coffees will keep better throughout the day than others, and if you want to be sure then smell it before you reheat!
You will usually be able to smell if it’s become too sour or acidic for you to enjoy.
There’s another point in all this though, that your taste can really determine how long coffee is good for. If two-hour old coffee makes you gag, then I suppose it’s good for one hour! You’re also a hipster though.
You can reheat coffee, on the stove which is the best way, or in the microwave. Since I can’t argue with your own personal taste it’s really a question of if you should reheat coffee.
Ok, Here’s The Bottom Line
To sum up the delicate balance of this issue, here are the main points to answer the age-old question, “How long is coffee good for?”…
- For best results, coffee beans should be brewed in 3 weeks to a month (they do keep for longer though)
- Brewed coffee is good for about 12 hours, you can reheat it
- Coffee that has less acidic content will taste fresh longer
- Seal your coffee well to preserve the freshness and flavor
- The best way to reheat coffee is on the stove, it’s also a good idea to just make iced coffee instead of reheating
- The smell can reveal all! For coffee beans and brewed coffee
I hope this helps answer any questions that you may have about how long coffee lasts. Please feel free to ask if you have any other questions about this topic in the comments, or if you disagree with me you can also feel free to let me know! I hope you enjoyed reading and once again, wishing you the best on your journey toward that perfect cup of coffee.