If you aren’t brewing espresso at home or don’t have a lot of experience with espresso machines or espresso in general, it can be hard to know exactly how long espresso lasts.
Let me answer that question for you.
Freshly brewed espresso shots taste the best within 30 minutes to 1 hour. After that, they start to taste flat, bland, and disgusting.
However, there are certain uses and tricks to keep older espresso shots useful and tasty.
Let’s dive into the world of espresso and finally get an answer: how long does espresso last?
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How Long Does Espresso Last?
Look, there’s no beating around the bush on this one: espresso, like coffee, can start to lose its flavor and freshness after about 30 minutes.
It's best consumed right after it's made. After that, it’s what we baristas call a dead espresso. Or an espresso that just tastes awful.
That said, should I mention the caveats?
Espresso shots last for a long time at room temperature. You don’t need to worry about an espresso shot going bad like you would with dairy products.
An espresso shot left at room temperature will still be good up to 24 hours later.
But please, for the love of coffee, try your best to use espresso within an hour of brewing it.
Espresso does start to lose its flavor as soon as it’s brewed. That’s why baristas still make espresso to order and don’t have espresso pre-made when you walk in.
Why Does Espresso Lose Flavor So Fast?
Espresso’s lack of stability boils down to how it’s brewed.
Espresso loses its flavor quickly because it is a concentrated coffee brew made by forcing pressurized hot water through fine coffee grounds.
The high pressure and high temperature used to make espresso extract more flavor compounds from the beans but also cause the coffee to degrade faster.
Think of it like this: espresso tastes so good because the pressure and heat extract a ton of oils. Oils are what make coffee taste delicious. But the oils are also highly volatile.
So, the volatile oil compounds that give espresso its unique flavor break down and evaporate quickly.
You can see those oils in the espresso’s crema. The crema is the top of the espresso that appears light brown and almost foamlike.
The crema is one of the three essential parts of the espresso that gives it a distinctly delicious flavor.
Additionally, exposure to air can cause oxidation of the coffee oils, further diminishing the flavor.
This is why it's best to consume espresso as soon as it's made and to store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
What’s that? Didn’t know you can store espresso in the fridge? Well, then, read on to learn how it’s possible.
Can You Store Espresso?
So, technically, you can store espresso in the fridge. While it’s not best practice, and you’ll never see a coffee shop worth your business doing this, it’s possible.
To store leftover espresso so that it stays fresh for as long as possible, you should follow these steps:
- Keep it in an airtight container: The main enemy of espresso is oxygen, which causes the coffee oils to oxidize and lose their flavor. You can slow down this process by keeping the espresso in an airtight container.
- Store it in the refrigerator: The cold temperature of the refrigerator will slow down the rate at which the flavor compounds in the espresso degrade.
- Use it within 24 hours: While refrigerated espresso will last longer than at room temperature, its flavor will still degrade over time. Try to use it within 24 hours of making it for the best taste.
- Don’t reheat the espresso. Big no-no. It won’t taste good. It’s best to use cold espresso in a drink like an iced latte or a coffee cocktail like an espresso martini.
It's worth noting that while these steps can help prolong the life of leftover espresso, they will never taste as good as freshly brewed espresso.
If you're going to store it, it's best to use it in cooking or baking as it can still add flavor.