How To Tell If Your Cold Brew Coffee Has Gone Bad

When it comes to coffee, freshness is always important. For coffee beans, for example, Presto Coffee says that vacuum-sealed roasted beans generally have a shelf life of roughly six months, though they can be used for an additional six to nine months past that shelf life. Coffee blog Sweet Maria's has a much narrower definition of what constitutes freshness, though, recommending that beans be used within a week of roasting for best flavor.

Freshness isn't only a factor in beans — it's also integral to the quality of your cold brew itself. One of the biggest benefits of cold brew coffee is that it's made ahead of time, as it generally needs a long steep time. Stumptown Coffee recommends steeping cold brew for 14 to 18 hours, while Cold Brew Hub indicates that steeping up to 24 hours is perfectly fine. And once steeping is complete and the coffee grounds have been separated from the cold brew, Roasty Coffee says the coffee, if properly sealed and stored in the refrigerator, can last at least a week. But as we know, good things don't last forever. So how can you tell if your cold brew coffee is past its prime?

Signs your cold brew coffee has gone bad

The Coffee Concierge offers up several warning signs that your cold brew is destined for the drain. The first is visible mold — if you see mold, dump the brew. You might also notice a decline in the caffeine kick from your cold brew if it's overstayed its welcome in your fridge. Old cold brew coffee may also taste more acidic than it did when it was fresh. Another sign that your cold brew isn't fresh is a decrease in the delightful coffee aroma we all love, according to Homegrounds.

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do with surplus cold brew if you know you're not going to drink it all before its quality begins to decline. OXO recommends freezing extra coffee to make ice cubes, which are handy when you want to cool down a cup of hot coffee without diluting the flavor or caffeine punch. Another great idea is using coffee in marinades, or even in spaghetti sauce!