How Long Can Coffee Sit Out? Your Questions Answered

By Shabbir
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How many times have you brewed a cup or pot of coffee only to get caught up in something else and not get around to finishing it in one go? This may leave you wondering: how long can coffee sit out?

Coffee can sit out for 20 to 30 minutes and taste fine. Anything beyond that will not taste good, but you can salvage some of the flavor by reheating it. Black coffee is safe to drink for up to 24 hours after brewing, though.

There’s a really strong correlation between the coffee’s taste and the temperature, so as long as the coffee is sufficiently hot, it should taste good. There’s a catch, though.

The taste of the coffee will depend on how it was kept hot.

freshly brewed coffee on a book

How long is coffee good for in the pot

Coffee pots are usually made of glass, which does a moderately good job of keeping it hot.

Many cheaper coffee makers have a warming plate on which the coffee pot sits.

The warming plate is fine if you want to keep your coffee hot for a short time, but if you leave it on the plate for too long, the coffee will actually continue to cook and the flavor will be ruined. Oops!

If you have the budget, opt for a thermal carafe. These are insulated metal pots that prevent the already-hot coffee from losing its heat. Coffee kept hot this way is much fresher, and can sit out a lot longer than in a glass pot.

The same thing goes with a thermos. If you have an insulated thermos or travel mug, coffee can stay fresh and good in it for quite a few hours without needing to reheat it.

Pro tip: Use a thermal carafe, and check out our favorite coffee thermoses here.

How long can black coffee sit out

As we mentioned above, black coffee can sit out for up to 24 hours, but you’re better off finishing it within 20 to 30 minutes.

This is because coffee continues to oxidize after it is brewed and comes in contact with air. Oxidation is the same thing that happens when you leave cut apples out in the air.

Interestingly enough, oxidation is the reaction that gives us brewed coffee, but brewing is done at a (hopefully) controlled temperature and for a controlled amount of time.

As the coffee grounds oxidize, they release their flavor compounds into the water. But if the grounds oxidise too much, you’ll end up with bitter coffee. You may have actually experienced this if you pick up a cup of coffee that’s been sitting out for too long.

How long can coffee sit out with milk

So far, we’ve only been talking about black coffee. As soon as you add milk, the spoiling process accelerates, much like milk spoils if you leave it out for too long.

To prolong the life of milky coffee, put it in the fridge. Even then, try to finish it within a day!

Better to be safe than sorry.

How long can coffee sit out with creamer in it

Much like milky coffee, coffee with creamer in it also goes bad very quickly thanks to all the sugars in the creamer. Don’t leave it out for more than 30 minutes, and if need be, refrigerate it for a day or two at the most.

When does brewed coffee go bad?

You can salvage brewed coffee that has been sitting out for less than 24 hours by gently reheating it. To determine if it’s bad, use the taste test: if your coffee does not taste right, don’t drink it!

Is day old coffee safe to drink?

After a day or so, your coffee is pretty much flat and flavorless. Even though it is safe to drink, it’s certainly not desirable to drink day-old coffee. Don’t torture yourself with a bad cup of coffee. Just make a fresh cup.

After a week or so, you may start to see some mold developing on the surface of your coffee. Yikes! Pour it into your yard or down the drain and make a fresh cup.

How long does coffee last in the fridge

If you put hot brewed coffee in the fridge, you may be able to slow down the oxidation process a little. It will still taste stale, but you can prolong its life to about a week.

The only time I can imagine you want to keep a coffee in the fridge for a week is if you mistakenly made a pot of coffee instead of a cup and you don’t know what to do with it.

Instead of ending up with stale coffee for the next week, freeze the coffee into coffee ice cubes and use them to make iced coffee on demand.



Coffee is best enjoyed fresh, so try to finish it within half an hour of brewing. Coffee also has an optimal drinking temperature of around 120 to 130 degrees F, so anything below that will not taste the same!

When in doubt, brew a new cup 🙂

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About Shabbir

Shab is the Chief Caffeine Officer at Coffee Brewster. When he's not weighing out coffee beans for his next brew, you can find him writing about his passion: coffee.