Old Coffee at the Office: Drink It or Dump It?

Disclosure: I may receive compensation when readers purchase products after clicking links on this site. This does not affect my opinion or the price you pay, but does help support my work. Reviewed products may have been provided at no cost.

old office coffee

Old Coffee at the Office: Drink It or Dump It?

guest post by Brittany Goodwin

In the corporate world, access to large amounts of coffee is a pretty basic necessity. For many office workers, a coffee break is not only a way to get some energizing caffeine into their systems; it’s also a good excuse for a mental break and a chat with some co-workers. But having your coffee in the office presents some unique problems, such as the question of what to do with old coffee: drink it or dump it?

Well, that depends on a number of factors:

How Long the Coffee Has Been Sitting There

Anything that has been left out in the open air has a relatively short lifespan. And while you were concentrating on that report for your boss, your coffee may have become somewhat unpalatable. The oils in your coffee can start to go rancid after four hours or so and, while this is usually not enough time to make you sick, it won’t make the coffee taste any better. Not sure when you put that cup down? When in doubt, pour it out and get a fresh one!

Verdict: Dump It!


Whether You Put Creamer in It

Creamer limits the life of your coffee even more, as we all know that it’s generally a bad idea to leave dairy products out. However, between the preservatives, pasteurization process, and existing bacteria that is in dairy, it’s unlikely (though not impossible) that you will get sick after a short amount of time. That’s why you’ll hear people tell you that they drank coffee with cream from the day before and were fine. Nonetheless, the longer that the drink sits there, the more bacteria in it will grow (and you do not want to be the exception who gets food poisoning). Thus, it’s a good idea to just grab a new cup if your cream-filled coffee has been there for more than a couple of hours or so – just to be on the safe side.

Verdict: Dump It!


Whether You Kept It in the Fridge

Refrigeration will

keep bacteria from forming in your cup for longer periods of time, and can extend the life of your coffee for several days. If you have a cup of coffee that’s starting to get unpalatably cool, try throwing it in the fridge to make an iced coffee! You can even bring in a small ice tray if your office fridge doesn’t come with an ice-maker, and use flavored creamers or coffee to make specialty drinks! When saving, try throwing a lid on it to keep other contaminants from getting into the cup. However, if you forget the coffee for more than a few days, scrap it and start over with a new cup.

Verdict: Drink it for a few days at most

Whether You Are Using a Microwave

Many people mistakenly assume that because they used a microwave to reheat coffee, all of the bacteria will be wiped out and it will be safe. Unfortunately, microwaves are notorious for their uneven heating, and that inconsistency extends to their bacteria killing abilities. Microwaves work by vibrating the molecules within food and beverages through their exposure to radiation. The problem is that they work from the outside in, often leaving pockets of the food or drink unheated. If you are lucky enough to work in an office with an actual stove, use that to achieve even heat. If not, skip the microwave and just get another cup! Besides, have you ever noticed how nothing tastes the same after it’s come out of the microwave – and not in a good way?

Verdict: Dump It!


Old coffee usually poses some minor risks and just doesn’t taste good. So there’s really no reason to drink it if you have access to a consistent supply of fresh joe through your office’s coffee service. What’s the longest that you would trust old coffee?

Latest posts by Brittany Goodwin (see all)

Say something!

Please leave a comment or ask a question

About Brittany Goodwin

Brittany Goodwin is a digital marketing professional and freelance writer in Philadelphia. She enjoys traveling and making a positive impact on the environment. Brittany holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Rutgers University. Connect with Brittany on Instagram.