How Do You Know if Cold Brew Has Gone Bad? 4 Signs You Have To Watch

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How Do You Know if Cold Brew Has Gone Bad? 4 Signs You Have To Watch

Cold brew is an increasingly popular drink among coffee drinkers. Often milder and less acidic than traditional black coffee, it is refreshing on a hot summer day.

So how do you know if cold brew has gone bad? You need to watch these 4 signs:

  1. Does any mold start to develop?

  2. Does it taste flavorless and stale?

  3. Do you feel less caffeine boost after drinking it?

  4. Does it taste more acidic than before?

The most obvious way is just to check for mold. If mold is growing in the jar, then there’s no more need for me to say, just throw it away! However, growing mold is just the final stage of rancidifying. All in all, if you find the flavor was just not the same as when it just brewed, it has just gone bad, and STOP drinking it.

If you want to know how long cold brew can last and how to preserve it, just read on.

How Long Can Cold Brew Last

While mold is the obvious answer to how to know if your cold brew is bad, there are other factors involved. Typically, you should follow the best buy date for any store-bought cold brew.

How long can cold brew last in the refrigerator?

For cold brew made at home, cold brew can last up to 14 days if you refrigerated it good. And remember, it will get more stale and flavorless each day after another, and then you will eventually see mold all over in the jar and the lid.

How long can cold brew last at room temperature

If you left on the countertop, cold brew can go bad in a matter of hours. This is all caused that the oxidation process is actually accelerated at room temperature. Once you completed the brewing process, open the lid and start to drink it, the time is ticking until your cold brew lost all its organic materials, a.k.a the aroma.

So I cannot stress this enough, and I am going to say it again: DO NOT LEAVE YOUR COLD BREW IN ROOM TEMPERATURE!

What else can make cold brew go bad even faster?

If you add sugar or milk to the cold brew it will last for only a few hours before it starts to go bad. It is recommended that you add milk or sugar only to the glass you are about to drink and not to the whole jar or bottle of cold brew.

However, whether your cold brew is bad may depend a great deal on you. Cold brew can begin to taste stale to the more discerning coffee drinker. If your cold brew no longer tastes good to you then it is time to throw it out.

How Long Does Bottled Cold Brew Last?

If it’s unopened and store-bought, it can last a long time. Bottled cold brew can last up to 6 months to 1 year if it was manufactured properly. In our coffee shop, we nitrogen flush our growlers which helps combat oxidization. I would assume a larger company producing on larger bottling lines does something similar, probably more effective.

4 Signs that Your Cold Brew Has Gone Bad

One of the first signs that cold brew is going bad is a change in flavor. It may taste stale, or bitter, or sour.

Another sign can be the smell. Although less common, a change in smell will indicate that the cold brew is going bad.

Lastly, mold growing anywhere in the container means that the Cold Brew is bad and should be thrown out.

I list the bullet points below, just in case you don’t want to read paragraphs.

  1. Does any mold start to develop?

  2. Does it tasteless flavor and stale?

  3. Do you feel less caffeine boost after drinking it?

  4. Does it taste more acidic than before?

How does mold in cold brew look like

Mold growing in cold brew

I got this photo in a Reddit post. Come on, you don’t want to drink this.

How to Make Cold Brew that will Last Longer

If you are making cold brew at home, there are things you can do to ensure that your cold brew lasts longer.

Use only high-quality coffee beans that are freshly ground!

You do not need to buy coffee beans that are of the highest quality in the coffee industry or rare and expensive. You only need to make sure you have a fairly good quality coffee.

Make sure your coffee beans are not past the expiration date. While expired coffee beans can be used, they will be less potent and more likely to taste stale.

Final Thoughts

Homemade cold brew is refreshing and delicious. If you only drink a cup or two a day using a smaller cold brew maker will help prevent your cold brew from going bad.

If you drink more than two cups of cold brew a day or have multiple people in your family that drink cold brew, a larger cold brew maker is probably best.

Either way if you make sure to drink your cold brew in less than 7 days it will most likely not go bad.


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