How long does coffee last in good condition once brewed?

The taste of freshly brewed coffee will always be much better than coffee brewed some time ago. So we can say that the time after brewing a coffee directly influences the taste of this beverage.

This raises the question of how long a coffee can last in good condition after brewing. There is some precise information on the shelf life of roasted coffee beans used for brewing, but when we look for information on how long coffee lasts after brewing, we do not find much.

Although it is a subject that has attracted the attention of many consumers for years, there is no certainty about it. I think the good taste of any brewed coffee could last up to around 4 hours.

Does brewed coffee go bad over time?

Most coffee drinks are made from two ingredients: water and coffee. While it is true that water is an element that does not go bad, it is necessary to bear in mind that coffee, like any other food, can be spoiled by the organic compounds, acids and oils it contains.

These compounds in coffee, coupled with the warmth and moisture it retains, make it quite susceptible to bacterial growth, even more so if the coffee is left uncovered. This may seem contradictory, as coffee and caffeine are both antibacterials. The question then arises as to how bacteria can survive there.

There are some caffeine-resistant bacteria

A recent study by the University of Valencia found a contradictory finding. They analysed the drip trays of Nespresso coffee machines where coffee residues accumulate and found colonies of caffeine-resistant bacteria.

The test was carried out on the drip trays of several Nespresso coffee machines. This component can usually go for days without being cleaned, collects coffee residues, and is permanently exposed to the elements.

Any food spoils over time after it has been prepared

After a lot of research, I could not find proper research on the growth of bacteria in brewed coffee. But I did find a common opinion among many people that any food is safe to eat within four to five hours of preparation.

I have to say that I have often consumed coffee several hours after preparation, even up to the next day, without any negative consequences for my health.

Based on my personal experience, I can say that it is safe to drink coffee even up to 24 hours after preparation.

What happens to the taste of coffee after it has been brewed?

According to coffee experts, the ideal taste of coffee should be able to identify its sweet and sour notes. The same critics agree that to obtain these flavours, it is necessary to taste the coffee at a temperature of 55°C. This temperature will also activate the coffee’s aromas and complement the drink’s flavour.

The smell of coffee brings out its flavour. For this reason, when coffee is left to cool at room temperature for a long time, it will still have a coffee flavour but is less pronounced because it will have lost most of its aroma.

However, in a coffee that has lost its aroma, it is easier to identify the acidic and sweet notes that make up its flavour. It is for this reason that many prefer to drink this beverage cold.

Chemical processes that coffee undergoes after preparation

A chemical process that all foods that we leave in the air undergo is oxidation. This is why a peeled apple turns brown and tastes rancid after some time in the air.

Yes, coffee can also oxidise if it is left too long in the air after preparation. And this directly and negatively influences the taste.

What happens to brewed coffee is that it will oxidise when exposed to open air and oxygen:

Checking the taste of the coffee several hours after preparation

I decided to test for myself the variation in the taste of coffee about the time after brewing. For this, I took different samples of coffee brewed with a drip coffee machine, a coffee pod machine and a Moka pot.

Once all the coffees had reached room temperature, I tasted them every 30 minutes:

  • The drip coffee was the first to lose its good taste after 3 hours.
  • The coffee brewed with the Moka pot lost its good taste after 3 hours and a half.
  • The coffee brewed with the coffee pod machine lasted up to 4 hours.
Drip CoffeePod CoffeeMoka Coffee
0 hours✔️✔️✔️
0:30 h✔️✔️✔️
1:00 h✔️✔️✔️
1:30 h✔️✔️✔️
2:00 h✔️✔️✔️
2:30 h✔️✔️✔️
3:00 h✔️✔️✔️
3:30 h✔️✔️
4:00 h✔️
4:30 h

Conclusion

Your health will not be affected if you drink coffee 24 hours after it has been brewed in your coffee machine. But the longer it takes, the worse it will taste.

In my experience, three and a half hours after brewing is the time limit for the taste not to be affected by any coffee.

A small tip that will help you preserve your coffee’s taste for longer is to store your leftover coffee directly in the fridge. The taste of coffee can be ruined more easily if it is exposed to high temperatures.