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How Long Does Iced Coffee Last in the Fridge? And How to Prolong Its Lifespan

If you have iced coffee and want to enjoy it for several days, you may be thinking of keeping it in the fridge for the time being.

You probably have wondered at some point – how long does iced coffee last in the fridge? More importantly, will the taste stay just as good after leaving it in there?

Let’s have a look at how iced coffee responds to different storage techniques, whether inside or outside the fridge. Then, I’ll let you in on some tips on proper refrigeration.

How Long Does Iced Coffee Last in the Fridge

iced coffee with a jar of cream on garden table

Generally, iced coffee can maintain up to 2 weeks of freshness in the fridge with proper refrigeration conditions. By this, I mean, putting the coffee in an air-tight container and cooling it at below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

But things aren’t always as straightforward as we want them to be, right?

If the coffee has sugar and milk in it, it’s not that easy to preserve. In fact, the usability period is reduced to one week when these two ingredients are added to the iced coffee. So, if you’re thinking of storing it in the fridge for a few days, it’s best to go for pure black coffee.

How Long Does Iced Coffee Last Outside the Fridge?

iced coffee inside the fridge

When left to sit out at room temperature, iced coffee can last for up to 12 hours after the ice has completely melted. However, the presence of additives such as sugar and dairy products significantly reduces your coffee’s lifespan to between 2 to 3 hours when completely liquified. So, you should discard your dairy-rich coffee if it has been sitting on the table for more than 3 hours.

Always keep your iced coffee in glass jars instead of plastic containers when not refrigerated. The air inside the plastic container tends to speed up the warming and disintegration of your coffee. A glass jar, on the other hand, merely exposes the coffee to the milder conditions in the immediate surrounding.

Can You Extend Iced Coffee Lifespan?

woman drinking iced coffee

Yes, you can preserve your iced coffee for as long as possible, but you can’t go beyond the manufacturer’s stipulated use-by date. Even so, you must observe strict preparation and refrigeration standards to be able to extend the lifespan of your brew effectively.

Importantly, do away with additives such as sugar, dairy, and other sweeteners, as they are the major culprits in lessening the shelf life of your coffee. The shorter the expiry date of these additives, the less time you will have at your disposal to preserve your iced coffee.

Also, you should keep the iced coffee in an airtight container to prevent them from picking the smell of other food items in the fridge.

Let’s look at specific interventions that you can try to prolong the shelf life of your coffee.

How to Extend Lifespan of Iced Coffee?

Although it’s not recommended to keep your iced coffee for more than one month in the refrigerator, you can still do one or more of the techniques below to extend the lifespan of your beverage for as long as possible.

Keep Iced Coffee in Small Containers

cold brew coffee in a container

Keeping iced coffee in small containers helps in minimizing air exposure as much as possible. This way, your iced coffee does not undergo rapid oxidation and disintegration of flavor.

Slow and minimal oxidation buys you the much-needed time to manage the consumption of the stored beverage. Even so, experts recommend that you consume your iced coffee within the first seven days of brewing or purchasing.

Make Coffee Ice Cubes

iced coffee cubes in a glass with milk image

Coffee ice cubes are perfect forms of extending the lifespan of your beverage. Besides facilitating day-to-day management, ice cubes are known to retain the original flavor quality even when kept for long.

Ensure your coffee ice cubes are kept in an airtight ice cube tray. This prevents exposure to other “undesired” food items in the fridge.

Ice cubes also create convenience in your daily consumption as you just dip a few ice cubes in water, milk, or any other beverage. And your drink should be ready to serve after a few minutes.

Use Proper Preservatives

You can add preservatives such as citric acid or salt to your iced coffee to prolong its shelf life. Other than delaying molding, preservatives help lessen the naturally occurring bitter taste in refrigerated coffee.

However, this method is not recommended since preservatives often have not-so-healthy components in them. Even so, you can use natural, preservative-free flavorings like vanilla to minimize the intake of “unhealthy” preservatives in the market.

Pasteurize Your Iced Coffee

Pasteurizing your iced coffee is an effective way of prolonging its usage as long as you follow the right procedure. Pasteurization works by killing off any bacteria residue that might have survived the initial preparation conditions.

The process is both convenient and manageable since it is completed while the coffee is sealed in a container. This way, you don’t have to go through the hassle of exposing your iced beverage to foreign material.

Nonetheless, the cost of completing the complex pasteurization process can outweigh the benefits associated with extending the lifespan of your iced coffee.

When Does Iced Coffee Go Bad in the Fridge?

Refrigeration does not solve all of iced coffee’s molding concerns. You should note that the refrigeration process stimulates oxidation in itself. This oxidation makes your coffee more acidic than ordinary hot coffee.

Some of the reasons why your iced coffee can go bad in the fridge include improper refrigeration, delayed refrigeration, the presence of fast-decaying additives like dairy, and exposure to too much oxidation air.

Improper refrigeration: This includes the use of porous bags or containers, inconsistent supply of cooling power, and ineffective refrigerator mechanics, among others. One or more of these instances will shorten the lifespan of your iced coffee. For example, unsealed containers allow contact with undesirable odors inside the fridge.

Delayed refrigeration: It won’t be good if you wait too long before refrigerating the drink. For instance, dairy-rich iced coffee shouldn’t be left to sit out for more than 2 hours outside the fridge. If you exceed this time allowance, your iced coffee will go bad regardless of the amount of care you put in the process.

Luckily for pure iced coffee (i.e., without any form of additives), you can delay for up to 12 hours before refrigerating. So, it is important to know which kind of ingredients you are dealing with.

Presence of fast-decaying additives like dairy: Your iced coffee can easily go bad even if it’s in the fridge if it has fast-decaying ingredients like milk. For example, if the milk has a one-week expiry period, the lifespan of your iced coffee can’t be extended beyond that one week. So, don’t be surprised if your dairy-enriched iced coffee develops molds sooner.

Exposure to too much oxidation: This occurs when you keep your coffee in a large or unsealed container. Such incidences leave too much oxidation air, which, in turn, speeds up the decaying process.

Also, find out: how long does cold brew last?

How to Know If the Iced Coffee Is Stale?

You can detect stale iced coffee by either smelling or tasting, and sometimes, by observing to check weird colorings or textures that might have developed. Nonetheless, such “funny” colorations and textures rarely happen except in cases of extreme molding.

Unexpired iced coffee is characterized by sparkling freshness. It’s hard to miss hints of decay. So, if your beverage smells or tastes anything besides the robust coffee aroma, there’s a good chance of molding.

Note that the absence of molding smell and taste does not necessarily mean your coffee is fresh. In most cases, you’d know that it is stale if the coffee’s primary flavors have changed.

Tips for Proper Refrigeration of Iced Coffee

Here are the tips for proper refrigeration of iced coffee. These tips help maintain the desired quality of your beverage while in the fridge..

Cool the Coffee Completely

For best results, avoid putting hot iced coffee in the fridge. So, you might have to wait a little longer for your iced hot beverage to cool before refrigerating.

When you place something hot in the fridge, you interfere with the internal temperature regulation. Simply put, you’re reducing fridge’s cooling efficiency. Also, the rise in temperature within the fridge’s internal environment gives room for bacteria to grow.

Keep Your Iced Coffee in Airtight Container

Using an airtight container ensures that your iced coffee is not exposed to “foreign” gases within the fridge. Consequently, your beverage maintains its freshness for a considerable amount of time.

Porous refrigeration bags act as notorious breeding grounds for undesired odors and bacteria. Besides corrupting your preferred coffee flavors, this might fuel molding in your coffee.

Worse still, porous bags allow contact with too much oxidation air. This will quickly degrade the quality of your coffee as oxidation air initiates unwanted chemical reactions.

Can You Keep Iced Coffee in a Freezer?

Yes, you can use a freezer as an alternative to the ordinary fridge to extend the shelf life of your iced coffee. In fact, freezing is more effective than refrigeration if you intend to keep your iced coffee for long—weeks even.

Furthermore, frozen coffee cubes work perfectly in preserving the quality and strength of your coffee. So, use a freezer instead of a regular fridge to extend the usage and preserve the original quality of your coffee.

Final Thoughts

So, how long does iced coffee stay fresh in a fridge? The results are pleasing since it can go up to two weeks of freshness as long as the right refrigeration conditions are followed. At least, it pays off for all the hassle of preparing and storing this chilly beverage.

This period is significantly reduced if sugar, milk, or other additives are included in the iced coffee mixture. If you want to preserve your iced coffee for more than 2 weeks, a freezer might be a perfect fit for you.

Krista Haws

Known among her friends as 'the caffeine fiend', Krista loves all things coffee. From an extremely short, strong espresso to a 3 day cold brew, Krista loves them all.

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