How long is a pot of coffee good for?

In this article, we will answer the question “How long is a pot of coffee good for?”, and how to tell If the coffee has gone bad?

How long is a pot of coffee good for?

Optimal freshness of brewed coffee typically lasts around 20-30 minutes when served in an open cup. However, it is still acceptable to consume coffee for a few hours after brewing. 

If you have a pot of black coffee without any milk or creamer, sitting on a burner, it remains drinkable for up to 4 hours. Coffee with milk, on the other hand, should ideally be consumed within a couple of hours to maintain its quality.

When brewed coffee is stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator, it can extend its lifespan. In this manner, it is generally safe to consume for approximately 3-4 days. However, it is important to note that the taste may not be as enjoyable as when it was freshly brewed.

In the case of brewed coffee mixed with milk or creamer, it is advisable to consume it within 2 hours if left at room temperature. If you choose to store it, keeping it in a sealed container in the refrigerator allows for preservation for a day or two.

Remember, while these guidelines provide general timeframes for coffee freshness, personal preference and taste should also be considered when determining whether coffee is still enjoyable to drink. (1, 2)

Does brewed coffee go bad?

Yes, brewed coffee has the potential to spoil over time. In the case of pasteurized coffee brews and coffee-based beverages, the growth of different microorganisms can contribute to a decline in quality during refrigerated storage. 

These microbial growths can have a significant impact. In situations where microbial growth is not a concern, coffee beverages are generally susceptible to chemical reactions that result in an increase in perceived sourness. 

These changes coincide with a decrease in pH, indicating a rise in titratable acidity.

The deterioration of liquid coffee quality initiates immediately after brewing. It has been proposed that the decrease in pH could be attributed to intricate reactions, likely involving non-enzymatic browning pathways that encompass carbohydrates and amino acids. 

Furthermore, the hydrolysis of lactones could also contribute to a decrease in pH. Apart from pH changes, oxidative reactions may also contribute to quality deterioration, particularly in long-life products stored at room temperature. (1)

How to tell If the coffee has gone bad?

Signs such as mold growth, discoloration, or unpleasant odors are clear indications that coffee has turned bad and should be disposed of. 

The degradation of coffee compounds, including any added ingredients such as flavors, dairy derivatives, or colorants, can result in oxidation during storage, leading to a rancid and stale taste.

When it comes to assessing the decline in quality of coffee, various factors come into play. The headspace volatile profile, pH levels, and sensory attributes serve as typical indicators. These parameters can provide insights into the changes that occur during the deterioration process.

Moreover, the presence of yeast or bacteria in coffee can have additional negative effects. They can contribute to a reduction in sugar content and diminished sweetness, further impacting the overall quality of the beverage.(1-3)

How to store ground coffee?

  1. Ground coffee, due to an increased surface area, is quick to spoil if not stored properly. Ground coffee should always be stored in a dark and dry place. Use an opaque air-tight container or a vacuum-sealed package to keep the air and the moisture at bay. 
  2. Opaque containers will reflect most of the light. It is better to use coffee vaults instead of going for regular containers. If you bought the coffee in bulk, separate some of the coffee into a separate and smaller container.
  3. Separate the amount that you know will be consumed in the next 2 weeks. By doing so, you are ensuring that the coffee in bulk is not exposed to air and other contaminants on daily basis.
  4. Freezing coffee will extend its shelf-life to years. But the flavor won’t be the same. The brew extracted from frozen coffee will lack interesting and complex flavors.(1, 2)

What happens if you drink old brewed coffee?

Drinking old brewed coffee without milk or sugar is generally not a significant health concern. 

However, it’s important to note that when coffee has gone bad, it loses its distinctive aroma and flavor, resulting in an unpleasant taste and compromised mouthfeel. As a result, the overall enjoyment of the beverage is greatly diminished.

On the other hand, accidentally consuming brewed coffee that has turned bad and contains dairy products like milk or creamers can pose risks to your gut health. 

The presence of spoiled coffee combined with dairy ingredients increases the likelihood of experiencing gastrointestinal issues. These issues can range from mild discomfort to more severe digestive disturbances. (1-3)

Other FAQs about Coffee  which you may be interested in.

How to use a French Press with pre-ground coffee?


In this article, we answered the question “How long is a pot of coffee good for?”, and how to tell If the coffee has gone bad?


  1. Manzocco, L., Melchior, S., Calligaris, S., & Nicoli, M. C.  Packaging and the Shelf Life of Coffee. Reference Module in Food Science. 2019.
  2. Adrienne Seitz, Lizzie Streit, How Long Does Coffee Last? Ground, Brewed, Cold Brew, and More, Healthline Media LLC. 2021.
  3. Kwok, R., Lee Wee Ting, K., Schwarz, S., Claassen, L., & Lachenmeier, D. W.  Current Challenges of Cold Brew Coffee—Roasting, Extraction, Flavor Profile, Contamination, and Food Safety. Challenges, 11(2), 26. 2020.

Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!