We’ve all been there, you forget your full coffee pot on the countertop for a few hours, or you bought more coffee than you should. The question is, how long can thing coffee sit out before it goes bad?

How Long Can Black Coffee Sit Out at Room Temperature

Let’s start with black coffee. Generally, 30 minutes after brewing the coffee, it is no longer considered ‘fresh’ but it can still be enjoyed up until 2 hours after brewing, especially if it’s sitting on a heating plate and has retained it’s hot temperature.

At what point does it go bad? It doesn’t. Not in the sense that it rots like fresh food would. While coffee can eventually grow mold due to moisture, it will actually take days for that to happen. However, the coffee will lose its flavor. What you’ll be left with is highly acidic coffee that has lost its oils and aromas. It won’t kill you or send you to the hospital with a case of food poisoning, but it will taste bad.

How Long Can (hot or Iced) Coffee with Creamer or Milk Sit Out?

Now that milk or a creamer is involved, it’s a whole different story. Generally speaking, dairy or even non-dairy milk or creamer needs to be refrigerated if not consumed immediately. Even though creamers are not technically dairy, when added to coffee, liquid creamers should be treated the same way as dairy.

Whether it is hot or iced coffee, if it has:

Milk, creamer of any kind, non-dairy milk alternatives…

You’ll want to drink it within an hour (unless it’s kept in a sealed thermos or travel mug where its temperature won’t change). Once your coffee with milk has been sitting at room temperature, it is no longer safe to consume.

How Long Can Cold Brew Stay in Room Temperature

This is a tricky one… some people prepare their cold brew in a refrigerator while others let it steep in room temperature.

While Preparation

If you’re steeping your cold brew in room temperature, it should take between 18 to 24 hours to fully extract. After that, it needs to be refrigerated. Does it go bad after 24 hours? No it doesn’t, but it will taste very bitter and won’t be as enjoyable.

Ready-to-drink Cold Brew

Now let’s say that you’ve prepared yourself a chilled glass of cold brew to enjoy, but it sat out for too long. Will it still be safe to consume hours after? If no milk/creamer has been added to it, yes, now you can consider it the same as black coffee sitting out. It’s not poisonous to consume, but it won’t taste good for sure. If you have added milk to it, it won’t be safe to consume.

How Long Can Espresso Last?

Espresso is the type of drink that needs to be consumed right away. It is a tiny amount of coffee, so as you can imagine, it gets cold quickly, it loses its flavor and become rather sour when it sits for longer than 30 minutes or even less. So never order or prepare a shot of espresso unless you are ready to drink it right away.

To Sum Up – How Long Can Coffee Sit Out and Still Be Safe to Drink?

Black CoffeeSafe to Drink but will taste bad
Coffee with Milk/Creamer (hot or iced)NOT safe to drink after its temperature has changed
Cold BrewUp to 24 hrs (without milk)
Espresso Drink immediately

Want To Keep Your Coffee Safe to Drink? Here’s How…

If you ever need to keep your coffee, any type of coffee except for espresso, fresh and safe to drink for hours, it is as simple as using a vacuum sealed bottle or pot that keeps your coffee’s temperature for hours. After you’ve prepared your coffee, transfer it to a travel mug or a sealed bottle. If it stays at the same temperature it was brewed at, it will remain safe to drink and keep the majority of its original flavor.

About the Author


Enjoying coffee, one pod at a time. Bringing all my coffee expertise to this blog.

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