Two questions that I am asked a lot during the summer is does cold brew need to be refrigerated? And does cold brew go bad?
In response to those questions I’ve created this short article which answers all your storage-related questions, telling you how to store cold brew the best way to maintain the flavor profile and integrity.
If I have missed any of your questions, then be sure to ask us on our Facebook page.
Let’s get down to it.
How To Store Cold Brew Coffee
Storing your cold brew, regardless of which of the three ways in which you have made it be it full immersion, drip cold brew or Japanese flash cold brew, it is in your best interest to store it properly for maximum freshness and duration.
Glass Or Plastic?
I’ll start with your container. Always store your coffee in a glass container and never in a plastic one. Never use plastic with your coffee as plastic is porous and can become oxidised and go off quicker.
coffee is acidic, and you will draw out the chemicals from the plastic into your brew. If you are a man or woman you certainly don’t want any of the xeno-estrogens from the plastic getting into your body at all.
Your coffee, regardless of what temperature you brew at you should never store it in or use plastic at all in any part of the process.
Off Topic: Try to eliminate plastic from your life completely. Take away coffee? Get a bamboo cup from Amazon!
Glass containers are better, better still for storage are mason jars and speciality coffee press beakers or specialist storage containers with a focus on an airtight container. I wouldn’t look for anything that is too large to fit in your fridge.
If you like making large batches, use several smaller ones.
When you make several or a few smaller batches, freeze the ones that you are not using. Just remember to leave space for the water to expand when freezing and defrost when you are going to use it. If you don’t, you will just crack the glass container.
Personally, I like to defrost in the refrigerator, which takes longer but does ensure it is maintained at a low temperature, never rising above the temperature of the fridge, while it is thawing out.
Pro Tip: When brewing, use iced water that is freezing cold, literally immersing the water in ice cubes to get it as cold as possible before brewing in the fridge.
Read: Full immersion cold brew the ultimate guide!
Does Cold Brew Coffee Need To Be Refrigerated?
in my opinion, you absolutely must brew and store your cold brew in the refrigerator. It is a cold drink and is to be brewed at a cold temperature, not with cold water or hot water or even at room temperature. Cold brew means cold brewed. To me, literally ice-cold brewed.
When you keep the temperature low, you will pull out all the low temperature compounds and flavors over time. You will also increase the shelf life and maintain the pleasant flavor and flavor quality.
By brewing in the fridge, you also ensure that you will have the freshest coffee possible and improve how long it lasts by maintaining a low temperature.
There are some YouTubers, bloggers, coffee experts and coffee lovers that suggest brewing in the kitchen at room temperature or next to a sunlit window to reduce brewing time.
This is not a good idea at all as this will spoil your brew.
Coffee is something that needs to be stored in a dark room away from other odors and is best at low temperatures.
If you cold brew at room temperature it simply won’t last as long as it normally would have had you brewed it with ice-cold water and in the fridge.
Pro Tip: Keep a lid on your brew when you are brewing it in the fridge so that it does not absorb other scents and flavors.
Read: How long will cold brew coffee last?
Does Cold Brew Go Bad If Not Refrigerated?
when you don’t store your cold brew properly it will go off quickly and start to go moldy. Cold brew coffee goes moldy quicker at room temperature than had you stored it the fridge and, therefore, by definition and for freshness, you should store it in the fridge.
Just to be absolutely clear about this cold brew will still, eventually go bad when you store it in the refrigerator, but it will go bad sooner when you store it at room temperature.
How Long Does Cold Brew Last In The Fridge?
Hot coffee is horrible after only a few hours, while cold brew will stay fresh in your fridge. Some very respectable coffee blogs and cold coffee lovers advise that a cold brew will last for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.
I keep mine only for 3 to 5 days maximum, at a push just 7 days. I like mine to be crisp and have the freshest coffee taste possible. 7 day old coffee is really my upper limit.
A cold brew concentrate can last longer when refrigerated than a regular cold brew. I am not a fan of cold brew concentrate and prefer to make my cold brews fresh and frequently than using a concentrate and diluting it.
How Do You Know If Cold Brew Has Gone Bad?
One of the easiest ways to find out if your cold brew has gone bad is to TAFO Taste And Find Out. When you taste it, you will find that there is a drop in the taste and it is less flavorsome, very acidic, and the caffeine kick has gone.
Here are some signs to look out for:
- 1. It is extremely acidic.
- 2. Lost its taste.
- 3. Not much aroma to it.
- 4. It has a rancid smell.
- 5. You can see mold or scum floating on top.
- 6. There is little to no caffeine content.
Can You Get Sick From Old Cold Brew Coffee?
Yes and no!
If you drink your cold brew coffee while it is still fresh and have stored it well in your refrigerator, then you cannot get sick from drinking it. This applies to any cold brew, be it a cold brew concentrate, a drip cold brew, Japanese flash cold brew or full immersion cold brew.
Drinking it fresh will not make you sick.
Since it is low in acidity above 4.6 ph typically, cold brewed coffee and cold brew coffee concentrate can grow mold, a type of mold that hosts Clostridium Botulinum, which is a bacteria that is a neurotoxin. Thus, it can make you VERY sick.
That is why, as part of my cold coffee routine, I throw it out or water the plants with it after a maximum of 5 days.
At best, if you drink cold brew coffee that is off, you will only end up with a sore stomach. At worse, you will end up in hospital and seriously ill. Yes, cold coffee can make you sick if you drink it when it is not fresh!
How Long Does Cold Brew Need To Steep In The Fridge?
How long you need to steep your cold brew in the fridge depends on a number of factors and not an exact figure can be given. One contributing factor is the coffee beans that you are using and their roast.
Light roasts takes longer than dark roasts to pull out all the coffee oils and low temperature flavors. A well known coffee expert and Coffee YouTuber suggests that 20-24 hour range is a good steep time for light roasts.
Dark roasts are a lot shorter and can be steeped for 10-12 hours and get a good tasting result. You don’t need to be the greatest of coffee connoisseurs of highly connected to the coffee culture world to use my golden rule of TAFO, and I can never say this enough, Taste And Find Out!
Frequently Asked Questions About Does Cold Brew Coffee Need To Be Refrigerated
Does Cold Brew Coffee Spoil?
All coffee can spoil and go off. Cold brew lasts longer than other coffees when kept at both room temperature and in the fridge. If you need your cold brew to last longer, make a cold brew concentrate with a 1:1 or 1:2 coffee to water ratio, as a concentrate lasts for longer before going off.
Is Cold Brew Better In Glass Or Plastic?
All coffee beverages, be they hot or cold, are better in a glass. This includes drinking from it and brewing in it. Coffee is acidic and WILL draw out the chemicals from the plastic and into your beverage.
…And that is not healthy at all!
Why Does My Cold Brew Taste Weak?
There are a few reasons why your cold brew coffee may be tasting weak. Check your coffee to water ratio. If it is not at least 1:8 then this could be the reason.
Also, the brew time – cold brew needs to be brewed for 16 to 24 hours. If all is well, then let your coffee brew for a little longer as this may remedy the situation.
You used poor quality water. Coffee is 99% water and thus the better your water, the better your cup of coffee. This is why I always encourage the use of bottled water or at the very minimum filtered water.
Can Cold Brew Give You Anxiety?
Cold brew on its own will not give you anxiety, but if you are an easily stressed person that suffers from panic attacks or with some mental health issues the elevated caffeine content may trigger stress, anxiety and panic attacks.
Does Cold Brew Have More Caffeine?
Yes, cold brew coffee is known for its elevated caffeine content due to having a concentrated coffee to water ratio and long brewing time.
It is not the most caffeinated beverage or brewing process though as hot water extraction. What affects the caffeine content is brew time, concentrations of coffee (coffee to water ratio) and the brewing temperature.
How water extracts caffeine better than cold water.
Is Cold Brew Bitter Or Sweet?
Cold brew coffee has a very mellow and well-rounded flavor with a smooth and rich sweetness.
It is not a coffee beverage that I would go out of my way to describe as sweet as it is more mellow than it is sweet. No bitter taste at all. The bitter flavor compounds are extracted at higher temperatures than what is used in cold brew coffee.
Frappé-Ing It All Up – Does Cold Brew Coffee Need To Be Refrigerated?
Cold brew is one of my favorite coffees during the summer months and is always a coffee trend during that time of year. I hope that I have answered all your cold brew questions so far. Just to reiterate that question, does cold brew need to be refrigerated? Yes, it does. I have explained why in this article.
If you are making it at home, take heed and get into that cold brew coffee routine that I outlined of using ice-cold water and brewing it in your refrigerator and throwing it out after 5 days.
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