The debate on how to drink your coffee has been going on forever.
Some like it strong and black, some like it with milk, and some like it with coffee creamer.
If you’ve gotten distracted and left a carton of creamer out after making your favorite brew, you might wonder if it is still safe for consumption.
So how long can coffee creamer sit out without spoiling?
But typically, after two hours of sitting out, liquid creamers start becoming a breeding ground for bacteria which can make you sick.
This happens because some coffee creamers are dairy-based and, like other dairy products, need to be stored at low temperatures to keep fresh.
However, even some non-dairy-based creamers need to be kept refrigerated as well because they also run the risk of going bad if not refrigerated properly.
But not all creamers need to be refrigerated.
For instance, powdered coffee creamers can be left out much longer.
This is possible because powdered coffee creamers do not contain enough moisture to support bacterial growth.
These creamers can typically be left out of the refrigerator until they expire, which may take up to one or two years.
Some liquid coffee creamers may also not require refrigeration and can sit for one or two years as well until they expire.
This means that they are shelf-stable and will not start to spoil if left out for too long.
As a rule, if you bought the coffee creamer refrigerated, you should keep it refrigerated and try not to leave it sitting out for more than two hours.
Some coffee creamers may not be sold refrigerated but require you to refrigerate them after you’ve opened them.
Your best bet is to check the label of every non-refrigerated creamer you buy to be sure if it can be kept at room temperature or if it has to be refrigerated once opened.
Can You Drink Coffee With Creamer That’s Been Sitting Out?
Otherwise, you risk falling ill from food poisoning because liquid dairy-based have very short shelf-lives of just about two hours when kept out of the fridge at room temperature.
The danger zone is the temperature range between 40°F and 140°F, in which bacteria can grow rapidly.
This is particularly true for food that contains protein, such as meat, poultry, and dairy.
When these foods are left out of a fridge or freezer for more than two hours, they can enter the danger zone and become unsafe to eat.
In addition to bacteria, other foodborne pathogens, such as viruses and toxins, can also flourish in the danger zone.
However, if the coffee creamer is powdered, then your coffee remains safe to drink indefinitely and may even last up to two years, after which the coffee creamer expires and becomes unsafe to drink.
If it is non-dairy creamer that was used, your coffee may be able to stay out longer than two hours, but this also depends on a couple of factors.
When the creamer used is a non-dairy coffee creamer that comes refrigerated, it is safer for you to drink it within two hours of making it.
Otherwise, you should refrigerate your coffee within two hours if you still plan to drink it.
In cases where you do not know what kind of coffee creamer was used, you should also drink up your coffee within two hours or place it in the refrigerator.
If you’re sitting in a coffee shop, you can ask the barista what kind of coffee creamer was used.
Coffee shops usually use cold liquid coffee creamers, which have short shelf lives, and not powdered creamers, which are shelf-stable and can last up to two years.
So, if you got your coffee from a shop and can’t ask the barista to confirm, it is safer to assume that the kind of creamer that was used has a short shelf life.
Do not drink the coffee when in doubt, especially if you don’t know how many hours it has been sitting out.
Do Coffee Creamers Need To Be Refrigerated?
As such, these coffee creamers should be returned to the refrigerator after use, especially if the weather is warm.
When kept outside the fridge for too long, bacteria have the chance to grow in the creamer, which puts you at risk of falling ill or coming down with food poisoning if you drink it in your coffee.
Even non-dairy-based coffee creamers may have a short shelf life and should be kept refrigerated.
Some coffee creamers are sold at room temperature, but once you have opened them, they need to be kept refrigerated for them to remain safe for use to cream your coffee.
A few coffee creamers can stay months without being refrigerated.
These creamers are usually non-dairy-based and are shelf-stable.
When dealing with liquid coffee creamers, your best bet would be to read the storage instructions on the label to know whether it requires refrigeration or not.
You shouldn’t leave it out of the fridge for longer than two hours if it does.
On the other hand, Powdered coffee creamers have a much longer shelf-life than liquid creamers.
One reason for this is that they do not have much moisture, and bacteria need moisture to thrive.
So, powdered creamers don’t need to be refrigerated and can last about one or two years, after which they expire.
Can Coffee-Mate Creamer Be Left Out?
While this is a general rule, there are several variations of Coffee-mate creamers, and the shelf-life and storage specifications of each one may vary from bottle to bottle.
These variations depend on the ingredients used to make the creamers.
Some Coffee-mate creamers, like the Coffee-mate French Vanilla Liquid Creamer Concentrate, do not need refrigeration and can sit out for up to nine months without going bad.
However, some other liquid Coffee-mate creamers require almost immediate refrigeration and would have to be thrown away if left out for more than two hours.
When it comes to liquid Coffee-mate creamers, it is safer to keep them refrigerated, especially after you have unsealed the bottle.
Powdered Coffee-mate creamers have an extended shelf-life.
Bacteria need moisture to grow, and these creamers hardly contain any moisture.
Because of this, powdered coffee-mate creamers can be left out for up to two years, sometimes without losing integrity.
When storing powdered coffee-mate, make sure it’s kept moisture-free.
Otherwise, mold will start to grow on it, causing it to turn bad.
When in doubt, refrigerate.
This is especially true when you’re not sure of the storage specifications of liquid Coffee-mate creamers.
I’m Chris Watson & the Founder of EatForLonger.com. I’m a food and wellbeing enthusiast researching and sharing foodstuffs and simple food-based concepts, such as fasting and clean eating.
I hope it inspires you to make tiny changes to what you eat and when you eat while optimizing your healthspan and all-around well-being.
Read more About Me here.