Should cold brew be refrigerated during and after brewing?

Cold Brew
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With cold brew coffee becoming more and more popular, there have been developments in the way people enjoy it. Recently, there has been debate about the best way to brew and store cold brew coffee. Is it best to brew cold brew coffee in the fridge or at room temperature, and can it be refrigerated after brewing?

What Even is Cold Brew Coffee?

Cold brew coffee is exactly what it sounds like, it is coffee that isn’t brewed with hot water. It is generally steeped in water that is room temperature to cold. It sits for several hours then is strained before drinking. Generally, cold brew is made as a concentrate then each serving is diluted with water.

It is well loved for a variety of reasons. For starters, cold brew coffee is much less acidic than standard coffee. Cold brewing coffee also doesn’t require any special tools or equipment. On top of that, cold brewing coffee is more forgiving than other methods of brewing. The amount of coffee and water, as well as the exact amount of time the coffee steeps, does not need to be exact. That being said, there is no shortage of recipes for the perfect cold brew out there.

Is it Best to Make Cold Brew Coffee in the Fridge?

You can actually brew a quality cold brew coffee either in the fridge or at room temperature. Both ways are safe and the process essentially works the same way. The main difference between brewing in and out of the fridge is how long it will take for your coffee to brew. To better understand why there isn’t much of a difference, we’ll take a look into cold brew and how to brew it.

What is the Difference in Brew Time?

The difference in brew time is the biggest difference to consider when you decide how you want to make your cold brew. Hot water absorbs caffeine faster than colder water. Therefore, the colder the water the longer it will take for your coffee to brew.

When making cold brew coffee at room temperature, it should take about 12 hours. When making cold brew in the fridge, it should take about 24 hours.

What About Taste or Caffeine Content?

Regardless of brew method, your cold brew coffee should have no difference in flavor if it is made at room temperature or in the fridge. Of course, cold brew does taste better cold, but the brew method itself will not impact the flavor of your coffee.

As far as caffeine content goes, your brew method should not affect caffeine content as long as you keep water temperature in mind. As we mentioned before, water absorbs caffeine faster at higher temperatures. If you allow your grounds to steep in your cold brew coffee at room temperature for 12 hours, it will have the same caffeine content as cold brew coffee that is allowed to steep for 24 hours in the fridge.

To alter the taste of your cold brew, you will need to either change the amount of coffee you are using or use a different type of coffee. Whether you use a darker or lighter roast is really up to personal preference, both are just fine options for your cold brew.

Does Grind Size Play a Part?

Grind size is one more thing to keep in mind when making your cold brew. The finer the grind, the better chance you have of over extracting the coffee. Some people suggest using a coarse grind size to avoid over extracting.

What is the Best Way to Store Cold Brew Coffee?

While it is just fine to brew cold brew coffee at room temperature, storing it at room temperature is not recommended. It actually isn’t impossible to store cold brew coffee at room temperature, but it won’t last very long. Cold brew stored at room temperature is generally only good for a day or two where cold brew stored in the fridge stays good for roughly a week.

Is There a Way to Make Cold Brew Coffee Stay Fresh Longer?

There are actually a few things you can do to help extend the storage life of your cold brew coffee. The number one recommendation is to store your cold brew without dairy or sugar. If you add dairy and sugar to your cold brew before storing it, it will only stay good for a few days even if you store it in the fridge.

One more thing you can do is divide your cold brew into smaller, serving size containers. It is recommended that you use glass containers and plastic wrap to keep your cold brew from oxidizing. By doing this, you can extend the shelf life of your cold brew to a few weeks.


Cold brewing coffee is a delicious, simple method for preparing coffee. It is very forgiving and does not have too many firm requirements. You can brew it at room temperature more quickly than you can in the fridge, but both methods are completely fine.

Whether you brew your cold brew coffee in the fridge or at room temperature, there should be no effect on the flavor of your coffee. As long as the coffee is brewed for an appropriate amount of time, neither method will have an effect on the amount of caffeine in your coffee.

The best way to store your cold brew coffee is to refrigerate it without any dairy or sugar being added to it. You can help bolster the shelf life of your cold brew by storing it in glass containers with plastic wrap.

While these tips can help you store your cold brew longer, you may find that you enjoy it so much that it will be gone well before it gets the chance to go bad!