When it comes to storing coffee, you’ve probably heard conflicting advice over the years. It seems as if everyone has their own opinion on how to best store coffee. Some people store their beans in the freezer, others vacuum seal them in a plastic baggy until it’s time to grind.
Premium coffee beans have 4 enemies in life: Light, heat, moisture and air. Each one of these elements can cause a batch of good beans to go south in a relatively short period of time.
Oxygen can cause a good batch of beans to go bad in just a matter of days. Oxygen robs the beans of the aromatic flavor and within a day or two you won’t be able to tell the different between premium coffee and grocery store bought coffee.
Moisture will also cause a batch of roasted beans to go bad, almost immediately. This is why putting your beans in the freezer is not a good idea. Minute amounts of moisture can form without you realizing it. If you remove the beans from the freezer to grind them, they could face a drastic temperature change which in turn can cause condensation to form in the container or bag you’re keeping them in.
One overlooked source of moisture is humidity. If your beans aren’t stored in a dry, air-tight container, the humidity in the air can cause them to go bad in a matter of hours.
Heat causes roasted beans to go bad as well. It will cause them to lose their flavor in a short period of time. Think of your beans as a perishable food product. You wouldn’t store milk on a sun light windowsill, would you?
Light can immediately cause roasted beans to go stale. Direct sunlight, even if for just a minute or two can ruin an entire batch of beans. This is why it’s important to store them in a container that will not allow light to penetrate inside. Even if your beans aren’t being hit by direct sunlight that’s shining through your kitchen window, UV rays are still coming in and can mess with the taste of the coffee.
Proper Ways to Store Your Coffee Beans
Now that we know the 4 enemies of coffee beans, it’s time to look at the best way to store them in order to preserve their freshness along with the taste of your coffee. Keep in mind that grocery store bought coffee is most likely going to be stale the minute you get it home. When it comes to coffee, freshness is king.
The container is also very important. Opaque, air-tight containers (that do not let in light) are the best. There are several home goods and specialty stores that have a huge selection of containers. Look for one that will not allow light to shine through and has some sort of airtight mechanism.
You may also use airtight glass containers, but be sure to stores said containers within a cabinet or pantry to avoid light exposure. The worst thing you can do is leave your coffee beans sitting on your counter in a glass container.
In your quest for the perfect container, you might come across an electrically powered contraption that claims it’s the perfect way to store beans. This is one of the worst containers you can buy. It will speed up the staling process by sucking out both oxygen and oils/aromatics of the beans. It’s best to stay away from these machines as they don’t work as intended.
Best locations in your home
In order to preserve the flavor of such premium coffee beans as 100% Kona coffee, you’ll need to find a cool, dark location. Keeping it right next to the oven, or other heat sources is a bad idea. Try storing it in a cupboard that opens opposite to your kitchen window.
Ground vs. Whole Bean Coffee - Freshness Guarantee?
When coffee beans are ground, they are at their most vulnerable. It’s advised to brew them as soon as you grind them. Pre-grinding your coffee is not ideal. Yes, it may save you a few extra minutes as you’re scrambling to get to work, but your coffee won’t taste as good if you grind right before you brew.
Unless the coffee is moldy and dusty, there really is no such thing as “going bad”. Good coffee is looked at in terms of peakness. There is a peak point of both coffee beans and grinds that will produce an excellent tasting cup of Joe. So, in order to preserve peakness, try to brew your coffee as soon as you grind it.
Some people claim that ground coffee loses its flavor after a few days, others claim a few weeks. When coffee is ground, you release the aromatics, flavors and oils that contribute to the good taste. As time goes by, more and more of these beneficial elements are lost and it will eventually go bad.
You should try to avoid storing ground coffee, if at all possible. It doesn’t take that long to manually turn the hand crank of a burr grinder in the morning. The extra effort you put into it will result in a noticeably better tasting cup of coffee.