I pulled a shot of espresso this morning but decided not to have it. Instead of pouring it down the drain, I popped it in the fridge. I used the shot around lunchtime to make an iced latte and it turned out surprisingly good. So, I thought to myself, how long could I store espresso in the fridge before it was ruined? So, I did some finding out.
It’s ok to store a shot of espresso in the fridge for up to half a day but ONLY if it’s being used for a cold coffee drink. Never store a shot of espresso in the fridge to enjoy later, just pull a fresh one. A hot, smooth, and creamy espresso will become a bitter, chalky hard to swallow mess.
Some busy coffee shops create a batch of espresso in the morning which they use throughout the day, but only for milk-based cold coffee drinks. They obviously don’t serve refrigerated, and reheated, espresso trying to pass it off for fresh coffee. Let’s dive deeper into the subject. We’ll see if these chilled espressos affect the overall taste of the coffee drink enough for a coffee lover to recognize the difference.
What Happens to Espresso After It’s Pulled?
Obviously, espresso is at its best it’s when fresh, steaming and surrounding you with its wonderful aroma. When a barista pulls a shot at a café, they either serve it immediately or ‘save it’ by mixing it with water or milk. That’s because the flavor of espresso begins to change within less than a minute after it’s pulled.
First, oxygen starts to mix with the components of espresso releasing their chlorogenic acid, which increases the bitterness of your shot. Then, the heart, body, and crema begin to blend with each other leaving the shot a lifeless mess. That’s why you can’t reheat espresso or store it in the fridge for later.
But what if reheating espresso never crossed your mind? In fact, you planned on serving it cold from the start. Can you store espresso in the fridge if you want to make an iced latte or espresso martinis?
Good news! It’s completely acceptable to store espresso in a refrigerator if you plan on using it as a base for a cold coffee drink. You can save it in the fridge for up to 10 hours if it’s just an ingredient in an iced coffee drink.
Cold Espresso Drinks
It’s common practice in fast-paced coffee shops to brew a batch of espresso in the morning and store it in the fridge. Although, most coffee lovers would be offended if they discovered their favorite barista has been making their iced drink with an ‘old’ espresso. Who could blame them? Espresso is meant to be enjoyed fresh.
Most cafés will pull the espresso right in front of their customer. Regardless if it’s being served in a single shot or in a cold mixed drink.
Other coffee shops need to be as efficient as possible and choose to whip up a whole batch of espresso in the morning. Most of their customers will never find out the espresso was preprepared. All of the additions to the drink make the cooled shot almost entirely unrecognizable.
Sure, the shot has become bitter and chalky, but your iced coffee recipe will utterly dissolve and absorb that unpleasant taste.
It’s completely normal for a coffee shop to make a batch of espresso each morning and use it for their iced drinks throughout the day. If any coffee shop tried to reheat a cold espresso and pass it off as fresh, that establishment would be besieged by an extremely passionate coffee community.
How Will Refrigerated Espresso Taste?
If you’ve never tried a freshly pulled shot of espresso, you need to experience it as soon as you can. The type of beans used to pull the shot will have a significant impact on its taste. The handiness of the barista and the equipment used to make the coffee will have an influence on its quality as well.
Take a look at some of the best affordable espresso machines I recommend to my friends. I don’t claim to be an espresso master by any stretch of the imagination but the espresso I make has a fairly high quality.
A fresh espresso will always have a vivid flavor with a smooth, citrusy body, and hardly any lingering aftertaste. A cold shot of espresso on the other hand, well, let’s just say, don’t.
Stale espresso is very bitter, harsh, and acidic. The ashy flavor will linger in your mouth for far too long.
Fortunately, when you mix the shot with milk, water, flavored syrup, and sugar the bitter mouthful literally dissolves. Especially in sweet mixed drinks. The single ounce of espresso just becomes a flavorful base for your iced coffee.
The taste of any cold, espresso-based, coffee drink will be nearly identical regardless of the shot being pulled freshly or being preprepared.
Milk will effectively mute the bitterness of the cooled espresso. Sugar or flavored syrup will counter the bitterness of the shot. Coldwater will significantly alter the overall profile of an espresso-making it nearly unrecognizable.
Personally, I enjoy making coffee at home. So, I don’t mind having to wait a little bit for my espresso to be ready. I don’t recommend storing a batch in your fridge. Simply because espresso is meant to be enjoyed fresh.
On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with building up a little supply on a sunny day if you know you’re going to want another iced coffee in a couple of hours. Since you’re too busy to make a fresh espresso, pull it ahead of time and store it in the fridge.
No harm, no foul. I think if you’ll notice any difference at all it’s because you made the coffee yourself and know the shot was refrigerated. If you take your mind off the subject, you won’t notice the difference.
If you’re running a coffee shop your main concern may be about the sacrificed quality. Is the convenience worth it? Treat your friends and employees to a cold drink without telling them the espresso was premade and stored in the fridge. See their reactions, get their opinions, and go from there.
Can Espresso Be Reheated?
As CEO, Todd Carmichael, of La Colombe said: Never reheat coffee. “Coffee is a one-time use kind of deal. You make it, you drink it and if it gets cold, you make some more.” The reason we don’t recommend reheating coffee is that it will completely change, and in most cases, ruin the flavor profile of your coffee.
Should You Refrigerate Ground Espresso?
Coffee grounds or beans should never go into the fridge. They are best stored at room temperature, in a dry area away from sunlight. Keeping coffee in the fridge exposes it to potential moisture which will completely ruin the coffee. If you’re interested, I put together a whole article on how to keep coffee fresh for longer.
What Can I Do with Leftover Espresso?
There are several different things you can do with leftover espresso. Do you have a full shot or is it just leftovers in your glass? Try adding some hot espresso to a bowl of oatmeal to change up the flavor. You might be surprised to find the oatmeal, milk, and espresso working together so well. Another way to use any left-over espresso is to mix the coffee with hot chocolate and make yourself a Mocha. It can also be added to baked goods, made into tiramisu, or mixed in water and frozen to make little coffee ice cubes.
I’ve always seen coffee as a way of bringing people together. Everywhere I go people seem to enjoy a fresh cup of coffee and that’s what drives my passion. There’s always a new brew to master, and there’s always a new face to enjoy it with. Hitch a ride with me on a coffee-fueled adventure to find a perfect cup.