Taste The Earth Blog

Can You Put Coffee With Milk In A Thermos?

by Mark Morphew on Apr 25, 2022

Can You Put Coffee With Milk In A Thermos?

Coffee. Check. Insulated Thermos flask. Check. Milk... wait a second. Can I put coffee and milk together in my Thermos? Will it go bad?

Whoa! Hold on there.

There are a few reasons why you shouldn't be mixing coffee and milk together in your Thermos. It probably won't send you off to the emergency room, but it can cause some issues.

It's often suggested that you shouldn't put milk in an insulated flask, but it is rarely explained why.

Want the lowdown? You'd better keep on reading.

I have the answers and the precautions you might want to take in this short and sweet post.

What Are The Risks Of Putting Milk In A Thermos?

Although the risks are relatively small, there is a possibility that bacteria could grow to harmful levels. Which unfortunately could leave you running for the bathroom, clutching your stomach.

But for bacteria to thrive, it needs the right conditions.

If you plan on drinking your coffee mixed with milk within one or two hours, you won't have anything to worry about. As long as the temperature stays above 140ºF (60ºC), that is.

I'll let you in on a bit of a secret.

There is a way to get around this so you can enjoy your coffee for most of the day, but it involves taking two flasks with you - one for the hot coffee and another for the cold milk.

Here's what you need to know.

Fill your large Thermos with hot black coffee (always use fresh ground coffee for each brew - instant coffee sucks!), but don't mix with milk just yet; you can add your sugar if you enjoy a sweet coffee.

Use a smaller insulated flask to keep your milk cold. You don't want hot milk!

Insulated flasks are pretty neat, and they have the ability to keep hot drinks hot or cold beverages cold. You'll have no problems keeping your milk icy cold for a good part of the day.

I'm sure you know where I'm going with this.

When you want a cup of coffee, add the cold milk as you usually would at home - a quick pour from the cold milk flask into your hot cup of coffee. Easy peasy.

Taking this extra step lets you have peace of mind that your flask hasn't become a breeding ground for bacteria. Yuk!

The milk is kept cold, and the coffee is fresh and hot.

How Long Does Coffee With Milk Last In A Thermos

Okay. So you don't really want to be lugging around two Thermos flasks when you hit the road. I hear ya!

If you want to live dangerously and add milk to your coffee, here's what you need to know.

How long does milk coffee last in a Thermos before it starts to go bad? It depends on how hot your coffee was when added to your insulated flask and the type of milk used.

Other variables also play a part, but I'll keep things simple.

Freshly brewed coffee made with boiling water with milk added can last anywhere from 3 to 4 hours and is still okay to drink.

If you want to extend that, you can swap your dairy milk for UHT or long-life milk, and your coffee will last even longer before bacteria takes hold.

Like most perishable foods, there are temperatures that need to be closely followed to reduce the growth of bacteria. This is referred to as the "danger zone" in the catering industry.

A range of temperatures between 40-140ºF (4.4-60ºC) is where bacteria like to flourish.

As you can imagine, these temperatures can be easily achieved in an insulated flask that is slowly losing its heat. Is it worth the risk?

How Long Does Milk Last In A Thermos For Traveling?

So you want to separate your milk and your coffee. You're not too happy about carrying two insulated flasks, but you've decided you don't want to take any unnecessary risks - the last thing you want is a dodgy stomach halfway up a mountain trek.

Coffee Thermos flasks and other vacuum insulated bottles and mugs do an excellent job locking the temperature of hot or cold liquids for hours.

Most of the best have been manufactured from kitchen-grade 18/8 stainless steel. This steel quality does not react with milk, so that's one thing you don't have to worry about.

The insulated technology in most of these flasks uses a vacuum design which is incessantly a thin void between the inner and the outer body of the flask.

Heat and cold cannot pass through this void, not from the outside nor the inside.

So now you know the basics, let's get down to the nitty-gritty - how long will your milk stay cold in a Thermos flask?

The vacuum bubble surrounding the Thermos does an excellent job, and you can expect your milk to stay cold for up to 24 hours.

But, there is a but.

To keep the temperature for this amount of time, you really need to add a few ice cubes to the milk.

If you don't, you can expect your milk to last for up to 6 hours. Adding ice to cold liquids you want to keep in a Thermos makes a huge difference.

What To Put In Coffee Besides Milk?

Milk and coffee go hand in hand, but did you know you can swap out your regular cow's milk and replace it with something completely different?

By making a quick switch to a non-dairy milk alternative, you can elevate the flavor of your coffee and tickle your taste buds.

If you want to experiment with a dairy-free coffee, soy milk, oat milk, and almond milk are all excellent options.

The Conclusion

So there you have it. You can enjoy your coffee and milk with a Thermos flask - you just need to carry two with you when you hit the road.

Using two insulated flasks might seem like an unnecessary step.

But do you really want to take any chances with your stomach when you're out in the wilderness with only a few palm-sized leaves in easy reach? I thought not.

If you plan on drinking your coffee mixed with milk on your morning commute, you shouldn't have anything to worry about. You can safely combine both if you intend on drinking your coffee quickly.

If you're looking for the best-insulated travel mug to keep your coffee hot, take a look at our exclusive range.

Our insulated travel tumblers will keep your coffee piping hot for hours, and they're ceramic coated. 

With a ceramic coating you won't have any metallic tastes leaching into your coffee.

Once you've tried this type of tumbler you'll wonder how you ever drank out of "average" tumblers before! 

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Mark MorphewMark Morphew is a freelance writer specializing in digital marketing and the hospitality sector. He helps coffee, catering, and food tech businesses create better content that drives more traffic and increases customer engagement.