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Can You Put Hot Coffee In The Fridge?

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There is nothing like a freshly brewed cup of hot coffee — but what if you can’t finish it in one sitting and want to store it for later?

Can you put hot coffee in the fridge? Yes, you can put a mildly hot cup of coffee in the fridge. The best way to do it would be to store it in an airtight mason jar to prevent it from oxidizing. The coffee will remain good for up to 3-4 days, but will taste less intense the longer you store it.

Read below to learn more about storing hot coffee in the fridge, how to do it safely, some precautions, and how long it will last before it goes bad! 

Cooling And Storing Hot Coffee 

Hot coffee and refrigeration don’t usually go together — unless you are making iced coffee, of course.

A freshly brewed cup is supposed to be consumed within 10-15 minutes of steeping it.

But hey, we’ve all been there — sometimes one can overestimate one’s ability to consume large quantities of coffee (or how late they’re running in the mornings). 

If you have ever had to deal with a leftover beverage, then you are not alone! This guide will help you figure out the best way to store coffee according to your needs.

Coffee is available in multiple forms: you could either go with instant coffee, pre-ground coffee, or whole coffee beans. 

Why are we explaining the difference between each type? Well, because it will affect the storage time, storage method, and quality of the beverage!

Let’s discuss how to cool and store these different types of coffee.

Instant Coffee

Instant coffee is the worst to store because it is premade and converted into a powder form. 

Manufacturers brew customized coffee at the factory, then remove the excess water from the mixture. 

The brewed slurry is then dried and processed until it turns into a concentrated fine powder, which you then rehydrate with water at home to make an instant cup of coffee.

This is a highly convenient way of consuming coffee, but it is also difficult to store. Pre-brewed coffee is already on the brink of losing its aroma and mouthfeel so even if you do end up cooling it down in the fridge, it’s best not to reheat it. 

Reheating any type of coffee destroys its delicate aroma and flavor. While it has little to no effect on the caffeine content of the coffee, it certainly does affect its overall quality and flavor. 

Here is how to cool and store it properly:

  1. The best way to cool down instant coffee is to move the contents into an airtight container — just make sure that the coffee isn’t scorching hot beforehand. Give the coffee around 5-8 minutes to cool down before moving it. 
  2. Keep the instant coffee jar at the back of the fridge and store it at 40°F. Consume the coffee within 24 hours for the best flavor or within 3-4 days before it starts to go bad (more on this below).
  3. Just enjoy a cold cup of instant coffee right from the jar! 

If you do want to reheat it, avoid boiling it as it would destroy the subtle flavors and aromatic notes of the coffee. 

Just warm it until it starts to steam and enjoy.

Fresh Or Pre-Ground Coffee Beans

Pre-ground coffee and coffee made from freshly roasted coffee beans are essentially the same. 

However, you can get more value from coffee made from whole coffee beans! In a nutshell, this subtle difference happens due to oxidative stress

Freshly roasted and ground coffee beans are the ultimate form of coffee — you can make an ultra-fresh cup that has all of the original aromatic and flavor notes from the beans! 

Pre-ground coffee, on the other hand, also provides the same value but at a lesser degree due to it being pre-processed and slightly oxidized. 

The longer the granulated coffee sits on the shelf, the more it will lose its natural characteristics! This is why we recommend that you grind the beans and brew the coffee yourself for the best beverage and storage experience

While it isn’t a necessary step, if you are an avid coffee enthusiast, then you will definitely appreciate going through the extra trouble to get more value — and flavor! 

Here is how to prepare, cool, and store it properly:

  1. Grind the coffee in a burr grinder or regular grinder, then take 1-2 tablespoons of the ground (or preground) coffee beans and steep them in hot water. 
  2. Give the coffee 4-5 minutes to brew in the water, then discard the granulated coffee beans and filter the brewed coffee. We recommend that you use a French press for this method. 
  3. Pour the hot coffee into an airtight mason jar or container and wait an additional 5-10 minutes before sealing it. Avoid using cheap plastic containers! 
  4. Keep the container at the back of the fridge at 40°F and consume the coffee within 24 hours for the best flavor. 

This type of coffee makes for an excellent cold coffee too! 

We recommend that you avoid reheating it and instead use the cold coffee as a base for other delicious cold coffee beverages. 

Coffee With Milk 

Coffee with milk and other additives should ideally be consumed within 24 hours of storage. 

While you could store commercial coffee in a to-go cup, we recommend moving the contents into an airtight container at home for maximum freshness. 

You can stretch the storage time to about 2-3 days at 40°F but please always check milk coffee for signs of spoilage before consumption. 

Tips And Tricks For Storing Coffee

Here are some important tips and tricks to keep in mind:

  • To quickly cool a cup of scorching-hot coffee, add a few ice cubes to the cup. Make sure that you account for the extra water! We recommend making a stronger brew, especially when you want to dilute it with water using ice cubes. 
  • Do not store an open cup of coffee in the fridge. This is the worst way to preserve the natural notes and aroma of the coffee. Freshly brewed coffee can also take on stronger scents from the environment as it cools down!
  • Do NOT let any type of coffee sit out for more than 2 hours at room temperature! Bacteria produce rapidly after this point, and not in a good way.
  • Never put a scorching-hot cup of coffee in an airtight container. It might seem like a convenient way to store coffee, but it might end up damaging your container and can even cause an increase in the internal temperature of your fridge!
  • Do not use containers that aren’t designed to store hot liquids. Always check the safety labels of the container or jar before storing it!
  • Coffee is best served at a temperature of 155°F to 175°F. Avoid going above this range, or it might greatly decrease the overall quality of the coffee. 
  • Always check for signs of spoilage before using any stored coffee

Signs Of Spoilage

Nobody wants to drink coffee that’s gone off — that’s just a bad idea all around. Here are some things to look out (and smell) for in order to detect bad coffee.

Smell Test

Coffee is all about its flavor and aroma. These two parameters are the driving characteristics of good coffee and can also help you determine its safety and quality. 

Take a whiff and check to see if you can detect any rancid odor first. For freshly ground coffee, please refer to the labeling to know the exact aromatic notes you should expect. 

Most coffee beans offer a chocolatey, earthy and sweet aroma that can also resemble caramel or brown sugar. 

If you can detect distinct coffee notes from the stored coffee (even to a lesser degree), then this would indicate that the coffee is fit for consumption.

If you do not detect any smell or if you notice a rancid odor then please discard the contents and sterilize the container before further use. 

Appearance Test

The appearance test is a definitive way of telling the difference between good and bad coffee. 

Depending on the mixture of milk or cream, coffee will have a brownish or brownish-black appearance. Always inspect the top layer of coffee to check for spoilage. 

A cloudy layer or small island-like growths on the top would indicate that the coffee has gone bad. This can happen any time after the 1-week storage mark and could also be caused by improper storage conditions. 

We recommend moving the coffee into a transparent cup or container to inspect all of it. If you notice small particles moving around or suspended in the mixture, then it would be best if you discard all of it

Related Questions

Storing hot coffee in the fridge is a fantastic way to increase its shelf life or to make cold coffee! Now that you know how to do it, here are some related questions.

Can you directly freeze hot coffee?

Freezing a hot cup of coffee is not advised until the coffee cools down to around room temperature.

Storing scorching-hot coffee might cause an unwanted change in the internal temperature of your freezer and could also put stress on the container. 

Please make sure that the container can handle varying temperatures and is built to be freezer-safe.

Frozen coffee should remain good for about a month, but you should aim to consume it within 2-3 weeks. 

Can you microwave cold coffee? 

Yes, you can microwave cold coffee. However, we recommend that you consume the coffee cold or make a delicious cold coffee beverage to preserve its already compromised flavor and aromatic notes. 

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