If you’re a coffee lover, and I mean a genuine coffee lover, then you should know how to store coffee the right way. After all, caffeine is what makes your mornings worth waking up to. At the same time, coffee provides you with just the kick you need to get on with your long, busy day, right?
For many coffee fanatics, even here at Blue Box Coffee, it’s not just the level of caffeine that matters. After all, coffee is the most delicious beverage, isn’t it? So it’s supposed to not only be prepared and served properly, but also be stored the right way. Only then can your favorite ground coffee or whole bean coffee remain as fresh as possible.
But there’s a lot of uncertainty regarding the storage of coffee. So, in this article, I’m going to talk about everything related to coffee freshness and storage.
Table of Contents
Whole Bean Coffee vs. Pre-Ground Coffee
As far as freshness and storage are concerned, the distinction between whole bean vs ground coffee is a crucial one. With whole bean coffee, the coffee beans themselves perform the task of preserving the fresh, original, and rich quality of the coffee.
So it’s only common sense to assume that once those beans are broken, the oxidation process begins instantly and rapidly. No wonder it’s highly recommended to grind your coffee beans right before brewing your coffee.
As for pre-ground coffee, it’s just not as fresh or aromatic as its whole bean counterpart. Even when stored properly.
The Freshness Factor of Coffee
Almost every coffee lover knows that coffee starts to lose freshness straight after roasting. As for the flavor, it peaks later on after a few days.
Now how does this relate to pre-ground coffee? The thing about ground coffee is that it tastes the freshest and most delicious when consumed within 1-2 weeks after roasting. As for whole bean coffee, the time range extends to a month.
So what can you do to preserve the freshness, richness, and deliciousness of your favorite coffee? Purchase coffee that’s freshly roasted. And once you do that, make sure to store your coffee properly in an air-sealed container. The storage location should be cool and dark.
One more thing you can do is divide the batch. Keep the larger quantity in a different container. And the smaller quantity for daily brewing in a separate container. And open the large one only when the smaller one runs out of coffee. What this does is minimizes air exposure, thus preserving freshness for the majority of your coffee.
Important Factors to Consider for Storing Coffee
1. Air, Moisture, Heat, and Light
These are basic factors you should be taking into account for the storage of your coffee. Because they have a direct impact on freshness and flavor.
When air or oxygen comes in contact with coffee, oxidation takes place. And that means all the essential, rich coffee oils and aromas are lost. In simple words, it leaves the coffee stale.
On top of that, moisture, light, and heat accelerate the oxidation process to a large extent. Although light does it to a comparatively lesser degree.
So if you want your favorite coffee to stay fresh, then keep it away from these 4 potential destroyers.
2. Roast Date
The shelf life of your roasted coffee beans is of utmost importance, no doubt. Because what the method of roasting does is infuse carbon dioxide into the beans. During the initial days after roasting, coffee beans create ample amounts of carbon dioxide. Then after a few days of roasting, it’s only natural for the beans to release this particular gas slowly.
Now what you need to understand here is that you should not go for coffee beans that have either too much or too little carbon dioxide. In the case of the former, your coffee ends up tasting unpleasant and sour. As for the latter, the beans turn stale. Therefore, your brew tastes flat with no aroma.
So what is the best time here? More specifically, the time frame between 1 week or just a few days and 2 weeks after roasting. Once the roasting is done, the freshness clock of the coffee starts ticking.
How to Store Coffee the Right Way
You already know that you should be keeping your coffee away from air, moisture, light, and heat. Be it whole bean coffee or pre-ground coffee. The method of storage in either case is the same. Meaning the same rules apply in both scenarios.
Whatever you do, you have to make sure nothing affects the fresh, rich, and aromatic cell structure of your favorite coffee. Otherwise, what happens is all the essential coffee oils, flavors, and aromas get compromised.
So here’s how to go about storing your coffee the right way!
Obviously, convenience is a huge factor in terms of location. You don’t want to be hunting for your much-needed coffee first thing in the morning. At the same time, it’s important to store the coffee in the correct location. So it stays flavorful and fresh.
The place should be dark and cool, for example a cabinet or your pantry. Don’t even think about storing your coffee in the freezer or refrigerator. Because if you do that, then all that humidity and moisture inside might run the risk of infiltrating the packaging
Keep your coffee away from warm spots. Like don’t store it next to or above the microwave. Or inside a cabinet that gets hot due to cooking equipment or sunlight. The safest place is on top of a counter that’s not around a heat source or in contact with direct sunlight.
Once the location is decided, it’s time for you to choose the best container. You have 3 options in this department…
➔ The Coffee Bag Itself
More often than not, high-quality coffee manufacturers sell their coffees in resealable packaging. Many popular roasters are using bags equipped with the ziplock seal.
➔ Mason Jars
This method of storage is not so popular, but that doesn’t mean it’s ineffective. In fact, coffee in a mason jar looks visually appealing. On top of that, mason jars are more convenient to access, they stack better, and you can see how much coffee is left inside.
Also, if you’re a coffee connoisseur, then the chances are you own multiple coffees. So mason jars are the best for organizing your different coffees. Plus, it’s a cost-effective method of storage.
➔ Vacuum-Sealed Containers
One of the most common ways of storing coffee consists of vacuum-sealed containers. These containers can hold around 1-1.5 pounds of coffee. But they’re costlier options.
All you have to do is add your coffee into the container. Then press down the lid onto your coffee in order to let out as much air as possible. And finally lock that lid.
Such types of containers, more often than not, are built with a single-way valve for allowing the release of carbon dioxide. But without letting any oxygen in.
➔ Airtight Containers
Another common method for storage includes airtight containers. It’s common mainly because these containers, unlike vacuum-sealed containers, are inexpensive to buy. At the same time, they keep your coffee fresh.
The environment inside is non-reactive and airtight, thus preserving the freshness of your coffee. Go for non-reactive metal, ceramic, or opaque glass containers equipped with a gasket airtight seal. And if the container is plastic or clear glass, then make sure to store it in a dark spot.
Throwing Stale Beans – Right or Wrong?
We don’t live in an ideal world, right? I mean if we coffee lovers did, then we’d purchase coffee that’s freshly roasted, meaning in small amounts. So that the batch gets over even before the coffee starts to lose its freshness and flavor. But that doesn’t happen, am I right?
In that case, what do you do with stale beans? Stale meaning once the coffee has passed the 2-week period after roasting. Should you throw them out then? I don’t think you should. I mean the coffee may not taste as fresh and flavorful but it’s still worth brewing. Cold brewing, at such times, is the best for bringing out the flavors and richness.
In fact, preparing cold brew with fresh coffee is a total waste. So why not reserve your old, stale coffee for your cold brew cravings!
And finally, make sure to purchase coffee that’s freshly roasted and in small amounts. As long as you’re storing it the right way and consuming it quickly, you’re in the clear.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Can I Store Coffee In the Freezer or Refrigerator?
Don’t even entertain the idea of storing coffee in the freezer or refrigerator. But why is that? Think about this logically. Say you keep a partly-opened can of coffee beans in your freezer. So after thawing them, are they going to taste like the original beans? Of course not.
You should also know that coffee’s cell structure is porous and soft. Plus, it absorbs aromas very easily. So your coffee won’t take long to absorb the smell of garlic, onions, or any such thing you have in your freezer. That means the taste gets compromised to a great extent.
The refrigerator is no good either. Inside it, coffee condensates, thus pushing the rich, aromatic oils toward the surface. And that opens the door to your coffee aging faster.
But if you still wish to freeze your coffee beans, then do it using an airtight bag with a secure seal. For brewing, thaw those beans at normal room temperature. But don’t expect your coffee to taste like delicious coffee is supposed to.
Q. Does the Roast Date Make Any Difference?
I’ve already covered this part, so I’ll make it quick. Roast date does indeed matter. Because roasting infuses carbon dioxide into the coffee beans. And this carbon dioxide is released by the beans only a few days after roasting. Too much of it prepares a sour, unpleasant brew. And too little means stale coffee.
So make sure you buy coffee that’s roasted at least a week or a few days prior. And avoid batches that pass the 2-week post-roasting limit.
Q. How Long Does Coffee Last?
Now this depends on how your coffee is packaged. Does it come in a paper craft bag with a thin lining? If yes, then it’s best to gobble it up within just one week. After that, the coffee is only going to taste stale.
How about those one-way vacuum sealed foil bags?
In that case, since carbon dioxide is allowed to release and oxygen is prevented from entering, the shelf life can be 1-2 weeks before the coffee starts to taste bland or flat.
As for normal paper bag packaging, transfer the coffee to an airtight container. And store the container in a cabinet, away from heat and light.
So if you’re spending money on the most delicious, flavorful, and richest coffee, then it better taste good. But that’s only going to happen if you know how to properly store your coffee. Only when stored the right way can your coffee taste as it should.
So, in this article, I have discussed everything about proper storage. And I have also discussed things like why you shouldn’t be freezing your coffee. Along with what you can do with stale coffee instead of just throwing it out.
It’s the ultimate guide for every coffee lover out there!