Just as your car needs gas, so too do the thousands of white-collar workers in Corporate America. However, this fuel is not derived from dinosaur bones; but rather, the coffee bean. Many of us rely on this wonderful elixir to get us through the busy day. So, it may surprise you to learn that the Joe in your pot may not only taste stale but also may be riddled with bacteria. Now, before you toss your mug, let’s look at a few factors to determine whether or not you’re in the clear.

When was the pot changed?

Did you know that coffee contains oils which affect the flavor? These oils are found in any good mug of brew. However, once they have been exposed to oxygen for more than four hours, they will spoil. Ever been surprised by a stale, highly-acidic flair in your Joe? Old java oil is likely to blame. Drinking spoilt oil is unlikely to result in anything worse than a stomach ache. We suggest just making a fresh batch every couple of hours to be on the safe side. You deserve it.

Creamer or Black?

What’s one of the quickest ways to make good food go bad? Adding dairy to it! This holds true for the many of us that like a little bit (or a lot) of sweet in our coffee. That pumpkin spice creamer you can’t get enough of may actually turn into a chunky, sour cup of food poisoning if you aren’t careful! It is unlikely for dairy to go bad before a couple of hours of sitting. But, let’s be safe here: nobody likes getting sick.

Is it Chilled?

Perhaps as common a sight as the brewer itself is the office refrigerator. We may be accustomed to using it to store last night’s leftovers, but it is also instrumental in preserving our coffee! The oils will not spoil as quickly, and it is possible to extend the life of your Joe by up to a few days.

Pro tip: use your old pot to make a batch of iced coffee! Simply chill it in the fridge and add ice. It goes excellent with creamer and it especially refreshing on a hot day!

Was it Nuked?

You may think that reheating your mug of the good stuff in the microwave will safely protect it against bacteria. Don’t worry. We’ve all made mistakes. Unfortunately, microwaves are very poor at evenly heating our food. That means that some parts in your liquid will not be heated enough to kill bacteria. So, what may taste like a safe, hot cup of coffee could be a one-way ticket to stomach pain.

For those of us that consider ourselves “java-junkies”, coffee is a delightful necessity. The distinct, bold taste that we all love fuels us through our even busiest of days. Why settle for anything less than the finest, freshest cup of Joe? Again, you deserve it.