Looking for tips on how to store coffee and keep it fresh for as long as possible? Read on for our suggestions for the best way to store coffee beans and grounds.
- 1 How should coffee be stored?
- 2 How to keep coffee fresh after opening
- 3 What makes coffee beans go bad?
- 4 Should you buy whole beans or ground coffee?
- 5 Tips to buy coffee so that it stays fresh
- 6 Storing ground coffee in the freezer
- 7 What to do with stale coffee beans
- 8 Conclusion
How should coffee be stored?
Coffee beans should be stored in an airtight container that can keep out heat, light, and moisture. Put the container in a dark place like a kitchen cabinet to maintain room temperature and prevent any light from reaching the coffee beans.
How to keep coffee fresh after opening
Once coffee beans are roasted, they remain at their peak freshness for about 2 weeks. Ideally, you want to drink all the coffee within that period of time.
Most experts recommend 2 weeks, but you could stretch that to 4 to 6 weeks as well and not lose out on too much flavor.
However, you’ll find that the ideal taste and freshness is indeed within the first two weeks after roasting.
The roasting process causes coffee beans undergo a process called degassing in which they slowly release carbon dioxide. Most craft coffee roasters pack their beans in a bag that has a little valve that lets air out but does not let any air in.
Once you open the bag, the coffee beans are immediately exposed to a lot of oxygen, which begins the oxidation process.
To slow this down, you need to know how to store coffee.
The right way to do this is to store the beans in an airtight container that prevents any additional air or moisture from interacting with the coffee beans.
While you can certainly use airtight containers you have at home, you can also just press out all the air from the bag your beans came in and seal it shut.
If you aspire to be a real coffee geek, though, you can pick up a special coffee canister that is both airtight and has an outlet valve.
What makes coffee beans go bad?
In order to understand how to really keep coffee as fresh as possible, you need to know why whole bean coffee and ground coffee go stale in the first place.
Exposure to oxygen
Oxygen is an incredibly potent molecule as it reacts with many different things. The many different compounds that make up coffee are victims of oxidation, so the more your coffee beans come into contact with oxygen, the quicker they’ll lose their flavor.
That’s why most coffee roasters ship coffee in sealed bags: this is to minimize exposure to oxygen.
Once you open the bag, you start the exposure process, which is why proper coffee storage is a must.
Exposure to moisture
The next offender is moisture. Coffee is very hygroscopic, which means it absorbs moisture very easily. All this added moisture can make your coffee lose its freshness well before the expiration date.
The solution to limit moisture exposure is the same: storing coffee beans correctly!
Exposure to sunlight
Sunlight is a very potent chemical catalyst: it can start reactions and speed them up. You have two ways of limiting exposure to sunlight.
You can either buy an opaque container that does not let light through or store your coffee in a dark place like a pantry or a cabinet.
Should you buy whole beans or ground coffee?
For the best cup of coffee, you need to buy freshly roasted coffee and whole beans. When you buy freshly roasted coffee beans, you know that your cup will be of the highest quality.
We really don’t recommend buying pre-ground coffee. Pre-ground supermarket coffee was roasted who knows when!
Many craft roasters offer an option to buy pre-ground coffee. These are freshly roasted beans that are ground just before being shipped to you.
This is as fresh as possible with grounds, but it’s not quite as good as whole bean coffee.
As soon as you grind coffee beans, the window for fresh coffee falls to around 30 minutes to an hour. This is because grinding exponentially increases the surface area of coffee. Once enough time has gone by, you can kiss your dreams of fresh coffee goodbye.
How do you keep ground coffee fresh?
With all that said, we understand if you don’t have a grinder and prefer to just buy fresh roasted coffee grounds instead of whole beans.
Note: it’s absolutely critical that you get pre-ground coffee that was ground very close to the roasting date.
To keep your coffee grounds fresh, follow the same guidance: limit exposure to heat, water, and sunlight, and keep the coffee grounds in a sealed container.
Tips to buy coffee so that it stays fresh
Buy high quality coffee beans
To brew the best cup possible and one that has the most flavor, you absolutely must get whole bean coffee that was roasted a few days before shipping.
Additionally, make sure the roaster sends you the beans in sealed bags. Paper bags tend to be a little porous, but plastic-type bags keep the freshness and flavor locked in for longer.
Storing coffee is a two-way street: it’s important that the roaster is storing the beans in the right kind of bag and also that you’re storage game is on par.
Only buy as much as you need
Since you have a two-week deadline on your coffee, only buy as much as you can drink within that much time. So if make 30 grams of coffee per day, buying a 250 gram pack would get you enough coffee for a little over a week.
Many roasters offer subscriptions, so consider those if you tend to forget ordering.
Storing ground coffee in the freezer
A common question that comes up is if you can freeze coffee grounds as a method of long-term coffee storage.
Storing coffee in the freezer can work if you do it right. Since coffee is very hygroscopic, it will absorb any aromas from other food in the freezer or fridge.
Since you don’t want your coffee to smell and taste like food (casserole coffee, anyone?), you need to absolutely make sure that the coffee is very well-sealed.
The freezer will definitely slow down any chemical reactions, and using cold coffee grounds will not affect the brewing process that much. If you drink your coffee with creamer, you can also freeze your creamer.
What to do with stale coffee beans
So you opened your kitchen cabinet to find a bag of coffee beans that you had forgotten about: it’s way past the two-week deadline.. Even though the freshness will be considerably less, there’s still a way to salvage some of the flavor.
The best way to make good use of stale coffee is to brew it as a cold brew. Cold brew is much more forgiving than hot brewing methods, and a cool glass of the stuff is incredibly refreshing.
An added advantage of cold brew is that a single batch will use up quite a few beans.
Alternatively, you can brew a regular batch of coffee with the stale coffee and freeze the drink to use in iced and cold coffees.
Whole bean coffee is the way to go, and once you get them, make sure you store it properly and limit exposure to air. When you store coffee correctly in a proper canister, you can keep it fresh for as long as possible.
Putting it in the fridge to reduce the temperature can help extend the shelf life by a few days, but remember: once you grind it, you have to drink it within a very short time!
Last update on 2023-11-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API