Coffee-Mate creamer is a great way to spice up your morning coffee — like traditional cream, it adds both flavor and texture. Plus, since the brand makes a wide range of varieties, including hazelnut and vanilla flavors, you can create coffee shop-style drinks in the comfort of your home.
Coffee-Mate isn’t milk, which leads to a common issue: if you forget to put the bottle back in the refrigerator, how long does it last before it goes bad? Expired coffee creamer depends on a wide range of factors, including the ingredients, the expiration date, and the conditions in your kitchen. Non-dairy liquid creamer can sit out more often than dairy-based creamer, for example, and all creamers last longer in cooler temperatures.
How Long Can You Leave Coffee-Mate Creamer Out of the Fridge?
Coffee Mate’s dairy creamers can usually sit out for up to two hours before they start to develop harmful bacteria. Non-dairy Coffee-Mate creamers last much longer — in some cases, you can leave an unopened bottle out for up to a month without compromising safety. If you’re using one of the brand’s powder coffee creamer options, there’s no need to worry about refrigeration; these products are designed to be shelf-stable at room temperature.
What Factors Affect the Lifetime of Coffee Creamers?
The guidelines above are loose estimates — the actual lifetime of Coffee-Mate can vary dramatically from bottle to bottle. As you’re deciding if your coffee creamer is safe to use, it’s helpful to consider the following factors:
Ingredients are the most crucial factor in the shelf life of Coffee-Mate liquid coffee creamers. The brand’s Natural Bliss products use real milk and heavy cream. When these ingredients are left out of the refrigerator, the temperatures rise, causing bacteria to build up. The bacteria consume the lactose and create lactic acid; this process forms casein, which curdles the milk. Coffee creamer made with dairy milk can start to expire in as little as two hours. When the temperature gets close to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, make sure your creamer is back in the fridge in less than one hour.
Non-dairy creamers are a different story. They’re made with ingredients like vegetable oils, carrageenan, diglycerides, and preservatives. Since these substances are shelf-stable at higher temperatures, you can leave the creamer out for longer.
Opened vs. Unopened
Dairy creamers from Coffee-Mate should always be stored in the fridge, whether or not the container has been opened. The same is true for any coffee creamer you find in the refrigerated section of the supermarket.
Non-dairy varieties can often be stored in a cupboard for up to a month until you open them. After that, it’s essential to keep the open container in the refrigerator. The cold temperatures inhibit bacteria and maintain the creamer fresh much longer. Once you have opened the bottle, make sure to put it back in the refrigerator as soon as possible after use. Although non-dairy Coffee-Mate lasts longer on the counter than dairy-based alternatives, the warmer room shortens the lifetime of the creamer.
The closer a Coffee-Mate creamer is to its expiration date, the less time it will last on the counter. In general, the date on a creamer indicates the last day for peak quality and flavor. Most creamers are usually safe to drink for 4-7 days after the expiration date on the label.
As time elapses after the expiration date, more bacteria start to grow in the creamer. If you leave the bottle on the counter, this process speeds up, making the product expire faster.
Time on Counter
Over its lifetime, a bottle of Coffee-Mate creamer goes through frequent warm and cold cycles. The more frequently you leave it out of the refrigerator, the shorter its life will be; This is because every warm period creates the opportunity for bacteria to grow. As a rule of thumb, always put your creamer back into the refrigerator immediately after use. That way, if you leave it out longer than one day, it’s less likely to go bad.
Position in the Refrigerator
Every time you open the door of your refrigerator, the temperature increases slightly. Items in the fridge door bear the brunt of the warmer air. To help your Coffee-Mate creamers last longer, keep them near the back of the refrigerator shelves. Products stored in the door will be warmer, so they’ll last for less time out of the refrigerator.
How to Tell if Coffee-Mate Creamer Has Been Left Out Too Long
It can be challenging to track all factors that affect your Coffee-Mate creamer during a busy week. Fortunately, there are a few ways to tell if your creamer is safe to drink. The most important is the smell — when a creamer starts to go bad, it will smell different. If the odor is unpleasant, discard the creamer immediately; a bad smell means bacteria have begun breaking down the milk proteins.
Texture change is another important indicator of quality. When Coffee-Mate liquid creamers expire, they often curdle and develop a chunky consistency. If you see thick blobs fall into your coffee, it’s a sign that the creamer is not safe to drink. In some cases, you’ll see signs of mold on the cream’s surface or the container’s interior.
If your creamer looks and smells normal, the final sign of quality is taste. In the beginning stages, the product might experience a slight change in flavor. Dairy creamers often develop a sour taste that gets worse over time. If your coffee tastes strange, it’s a good idea to stop drinking and start fresh with a new bottle of Coffee-Mate.
Powder creamers can also expire — the process takes longer. In most cases, you’ll see the difference immediately after stirring the non-dairy whiteners into your coffee. Fresh powders dissolve quickly; old, expired powder tends to clump. Many coffee whiteners contain milk derivatives or milk powder, which can also create an unappealing taste.
How Long do Mini Coffee-Mate Creamer Cups Last?
Coffee-Mate also makes miniature creamer cups; you often see them in hotels, gas stations, and other spots that serve coffee to go. These non-dairy creamer cups usually contain sugar, corn syrup, and vegetable oil; they don’t contain milk products. They’re specifically formulated to last for long periods outside of the refrigerator. Some cups can last for two years. Like other shelf-stable creamers, the mini cups should be stored in a cool, dry place.
What Happens if You Drink Bad Creamer?
Drinking expired Coffee-Mate creamer isn’t fun, but it usually doesn’t cause serious issues. For most people, the worst-case scenario involves diarrhea or food poisoning. You may experience stomach upset or a bad taste in your mouth. You’ll often realize that Coffee-Mate has been left out too long after the first sip, so it’s easy to avoid extended exposure to bacteria.
How to Store Coffee-Mate Creamer Safely
Proper Coffee-Mate storage depends on the product—store liquid dairy products in the refrigerator. Non-dairy products and powdered creamers can usually be stored in the pantry, cupboard, or dry, cool place. Once a liquid creamer is open, please keep it in the fridge in an airtight container. Powdered Coffee-Mate is safe to store in the cupboard after it’s been opened, as long as you keep it dry and free of moisture. When in doubt, check the label for specific recommendations.
How Long Does Coffee-Mate Creamer Last in the Fridge?
Once you open a container of Coffee-Mate creamer, it starts to age. An open non-dairy creamer usually lasts for up to two weeks in the fridge. Open dairy creamers taste best if you use them within seven days, but they are often safe to drink for up to two weeks. Individual circumstances can shorten these timelines, so throwing out the creamer is crucial if you notice a strange taste, odor, or consistency.
Are Plant-Based Coffee-Mate Creamers Different?
Coffee-Mate also makes plant-based creamers that don’t contain milk products to accommodate people with different dietary restrictions. These lactose-free options might use oat milk, coconut milk, or almond milk. After you open these products, they should always be stored in the refrigerator. Like dairy milk and non-dairy creamer, they’re best for one to two weeks after opening.
When you’re choosing a plant-based Coffee-Mate creamer, it’s essential to check the label. Some products, including oat milk and coconut milk, are shelf-stable for extended periods; they usually last months in a cool, dark cupboard. This time varies based on the other ingredients in the creamer.
Just like other creamers, plant-based varieties develop bacteria when they’re exposed to warm temperatures. Use the taste, smell, and texture tests to judge the quality and safety of any open bottle.
No matter which Coffee-Mate product you choose, proper storage times and procedures are essential to prevent quick expiration. By sticking to the recommendations on the package and storing opened bottles in the coldest part of the fridge, you can keep liquid Coffee-Mate creamers fresh much longer.