How bad is it really to drink old coffee?

If you’re wondering if your coffee is going to go bad or not, it depends on what’s in it.

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Is it that bad? set the record straight on all the habits and behaviors you’ve heard about that might be unhealthy.

The average American drinks just over three cups of coffee a day, according to the National Coffee Association – and that’s understandable, given that it tastes great, provides a much-needed energy boost, and even offers some health benefits.

Many return to the coffee maker in the afternoon for a midday pick-me-up. Some coffee makers have a feature that keeps coffee hot for a short period of time, so it’s easy to make repeat visits to refill your cup.

After a certain point, you may start wondering when your coffee is going to go bad. Brewing a new pot can help you avoid a bad taste, but if it’s black, there’s probably little risk to your health. Here we take an in-depth look at how long you have before your brewed coffee is no longer drinkable.

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Does brewed coffee go bad?

After brewing a cup of coffee, you might wonder if the clock is starting to tick. Leaving it on the hot plate of the coffee maker saves you a bit of time. Your coffee maker may have a feature that keeps the coffee hot for a preset amount of time.

After this time has elapsed, it will slowly begin to cool and lose its freshness, which will change the flavor of the coffee. After about 30 minutes at room temperature, the flavor will be significantly compromised. But if you’re not concerned about taste, there’s probably nothing to worry about.

If you are a coffee connoisseur and enjoy the taste of your brew, you should aim to drink your coffee as soon as possible before it cools to room temperature.

One day coffee will taste drastically different, and not in a good way. But it is still relatively safe to drink. “You can drink day-old coffee if it’s black and dairy-free,” says dietitian Supriya Lal, dietitian.

How long is it safe to drink old coffee?

Old coffee is probably not dangerous, according to the National Coffee Association. Use your best judgment before drinking a cup of coffee – what does coffee look and smell like?

If you haven’t made the coffee personally, you might want to be more careful. Coffee served in restaurants or cafes must be served steaming, depending on the CDC. Avoid hot or room temperature coffee that has been sat, as there is a higher risk of contamination.

There isn’t much scientific research that suggests how long you have until brewed coffee goes bad. Most of the evidence is anecdotal. Some sources say you have 24 hours, while others suggest drinking your coffee within four hours at room temperature or a few days if chilled.

The general rule is that you have two hours to eat food left at room temperature, depending on the USDAbut it is unclear if this applies to brewed coffee.

What about coffee with milk?

“If your coffee contains added ingredients like milk or other dairy products, it should be properly stored in the refrigerator and warmed before drinking to reduce the risk of foodborne illness,” says Lal.

Milk can be stored in the refrigerator for up to seven days, depending on USDA. Coffee containing milk or creamer is safe to drink for up to a week when refrigerated, but may not taste as good as freshly brewed coffee.

If you left your cup of coffee with milk on the counter or on your desk, you have a much shorter time to finish it. Drink milk, or coffee with milk, within two hours of being left at room temperature, depending on the Mayo Clinic.

How long does coffee last in the fridge?

Refrigerating your coffee changes the rules a bit. When it comes to helping your brewed coffee last in the fridge, be sure to store it properly.

“Store self-brewed coffee in a sealed container and place it in the fridge,” says Lal. “Drink within 72 hours to ensure freshness and quality.”

So how bad is it really to drink old coffee?

Drinking coffee for a day isn’t ideal, but if that’s your only option, go for it. There isn’t much scientific research on the shelf life and expiration of brewed coffee, so use your best judgment and when in doubt, throw it out.

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