If you’re shelling out for decent coffee beans, you want to keep them fresh right down to the last bean. Correct storage is a vital part of the ritual of coffee making.
If you store your beans right, you’ll benefit from gourmet coffee on hand any time you want it.
Great coffee means taking care of every step of the coffee making process. That includes storage of your coffee beans to maximize the taste experience of your brew.
So, let’s dive in so you can discover how to keep your beans at their best.
One school of thought suggests you should keep your coffee beans in the packaging it came in.
At La Mano, we prefer to decant beans into containers made of plastic, glass, or ceramic. If you store beans in glass containers try to use opaque glass. This prevents too much light from penetrating and damaging the beans.
If you choose to keep your coffee beans in the original packaging, you can purchase plastic clips that seal it completely airtight. Most good quality coffee beans come in packaging with a valve or zip-lock. Either are great for keeping your beans fresh.
The great thing about this type of packaging is that it won’t allow cross-contamination between your coffee beans and anything else in your cupboard. While we love the smell of fresh coffee beans, you don’t want it to permeate other foodstuffs in your store cupboard. Perhaps more importantly, you don’t want any odors transferring from other foods. There’s nothing worse than a cup of coffee with a hint of garlic courtesy of your fridge!
Beyond this, with proper packaging, you can reduce the oxidation that damages coffee beans while also protecting those beans from moisture and light.
Glass and Ceramic Containers
Glass or ceramic containers look stylish in a modern kitchen. If you’re lucky enough to have a modern farmhouse style kitchen with exposed shelves, this type of coffee jar looks great.
If you opt for this style of container, go for the ones with a rubber or silicone gasket. This will stop the air from escaping. Beyond this, the odor won’t spread to your food and it won’t let any other strong odored food contaminate your coffee.
As mentioned before, if you’re going to use glass, make sure it’s opaque to avoid the light oxidizing the coffee. If you’ve just spent 20 bucks on coffee only to have the light destroy the quality of your bean, this is terribly frustrating.
If you don’t have opaque jars, keep coffee in a dark cupboard.
Containers Made of Tin or Plastic
Tin or plastic tins are the least effective option because they don’t contain the odors as well as the original packaging or ceramic/glass jars. They don’t protect the beans from other odors either. Tin and plastic containers don’t come with rubber gasket seals and have generally loose lids.
If you must use a tin plastic container, fill it up to the top and decant what you need into a smaller more airtight container even if that means using a smaller plastic or tin container so you minimize any surplus air.
Remember: air is your enemy. Try to keep your container as full as possible with as little air as possible. That way your coffee will stay as fresh as possible.
Your Roast Date
Next thing to consider is when were your coffee beans roasted? Just because they’re not ground doesn’t mean the day they were roasted doesn’t matter.
The most important thing with coffee beans is not drinking it as soon as they are roasted but the BEST time to grind, brew and drink them.
Fresh roasted doesn’t necessarily mean best.
The best time to drink your coffee is between 7 and 21 days after roasting. When coffee beans are roasted, they taste best after degassing. All the carbon monoxide will escape and you’ll get a more balanced, delicious flavor.
This is just a guideline for the best time to drink your coffee. If you drink it freshly roasted, it will still taste great. It will taste even better when you leave it for between 7 and 21 days.
The best option is not to buy in bulk. Work out how often you drink your coffee and how much you drink. That way you can buy enough beans so you’ll get through them before they lose their flavor.
Can You Freeze Your Coffee Beans?
You can freeze coffee beans if you don’t get through them quickly enough to preserve the taste.
If you buy coffee beans in bulk, freezing them can extend their shelf life by two months.
When you store your coffee in the freezer here are some tips:
- Don’t leave it in there for more than 2 months
- When you remove it from the freezer, leave it for a couple of hours. Let it get to room temperature as you won’t get best effects if you try making coffee with frozen beans or grounds
- Keep it in the freezer until you need it. Don’t keep taking it out and putting it back in.
If you want to store lots of coffee in the freezer, just decant it into smaller portions, freeze them and remove what you need as you go. This stops you needing to continually take out, defrost and refreeze the coffee.
Should You Keep Your Beans Whole Or Store Them Ground?
If you’re serious about achieving that perfect golden cup of coffee, you should store your beans whole and grind them as you go.
Once coffee beans are ground, the process of oxidation begins and the beans start losing their flavor.
The best thing to do is store them as beans and grind the exact amount that you need before brewing. That way you’ll get the best cup of coffee you possibly could.
Remember, a fresh ground cup of coffee will give you a beautiful aroma and sweetness. If you love your coffee you’ll appreciate the extra effort.
Of course, by all means, keep some ground coffee on hand for those occasions when you’re not in the mood for grinding your beans.
As a rule, though, keep fresh whole coffee beans then blitz up only enough for each brew. This will keep your beans fresher for longer while ensuring that oxidation and degradation is kept to a complete minimum.
What Should You Avoid To Keep Your Coffee Beans Fresh?
A few pointers as we near the end of today’s guide on what to avoid if you want the freshest coffee possible:
Air is the number one enemy to the freshness of your coffee.
If you want to keep your coffee strong and aromatic but without acidity, lose the air. This will typically mean keeping it in an airtight container with any excess air squeezed out of the packet.
If you must keep it in a plastic, ceramic or glass container, try to keep the amount of available air to a minimum because that’s where the oxidization will happen.
A good way to keep the air volume down is to keep a small container of about 16oz with only the coffee you need. You can decant the amount of coffee you need as you go from a bigger container or packaging.
If you decide to buy in bulk, you can store it in a cool dark place and decant it to a smaller vessel as required.
When you freshly grind your coffee, make sure it’s kept in either a small glass container with a rubber gasket or a Ziploc bag with the air pushed out. Your taste buds will thank you for it.
Moisture is bad news for your beans. Yes, just like air, you need to keep those beans tightly sealed away from the dreaded H2O.
The reason why you don’t need water near your beans is because it will cause it to clump and mold. Not good. It will ruin it completely so keep it in the packaging or in a container with a good seal and your coffee will keep well.
Sealed jars and cans are the way to go. Especially the cool glass jars with the rubber gasket and wired clamp. If you can, find one with opaque glass to prevent light exposure.
Heat is also your enemy if you want to keep those beans fresh and tasty. Heat will speed up those chemicals in your coffee and they’ll oxidize quicker.
The only time your coffee should see heat is when it’s being brewed. Not any other time.
Think about where you’re storing your coffee as that will have a big impact on the outcome of your coffee when you make it. Keep it away from dishwashers, ovens, microwaves, radiators, dryers, ovens or sunny windowsills.
Ideally, keep coffee in a cool, dry cupboard. The fridge might be cool and dark, but humidity levels are wrong, so not the ideal spot for storing coffee.
Sunlight is great for growing plants but harvested coffee beans need to be kept away from direct sunlight.
When ultraviolet rays of the sun hit coffee beans, it starts a process known as photodegradation. This means that it destroys the chemical structure of the beans.
Ultraviolet light will kill the oils, fats, and the natural brown color of your coffee beans. That’s why it’s best to keep it in a cool dark place like a cupboard away from any heat sources.
So, if you’re not freezing your coffee beans keep them in well-sealed packaging or containers. Just try to keep beans away from heat, sunlight and moisture and your beans will be kept nice and fresh.
What If Your Beans Go Stale?
If you’ve had your coffee knocking around in the cupboard for a few months, you don’t need to throw it out. You can still use it. It just means that it will lose the nuances that you get two weeks after roasting.
After all, coffee is coffee. But, if you’re really fussy about your brew, you might want to keep your supply of fresh coffee topped up and use your stale coffee if you get low.
The longer you leave a pack or container of coffee to sit, the less flavor it will have in the long term. But, it won’t hurt you if you drink it. It will just taste less good.
Can Coffee Go Bad?
Well, no. Not exactly. But the taste can change considerably over time. Don’t worry, your coffee won’t go bad in the make-you-sick sense. It’ll just change the molecular structure and the taste.
To tell whether your coffee has changed for the worse all you need to do is have a good sniff. Just open the packaging or container and have a whiff.
You’ll know if it has changed flavor. Just ask yourself, ‘does this smell like fresh coffee?’ Fresh coffee will smell amazing.
Don’t forget that fresh coffee has over 800 compounds that give it that amazing flavor. If you drink it fresh it’s going to burst with flavor. Fresh, it’ll have an interesting flavor that is sweet and rich. The complexities will gradually erode if your coffee beans aren’t stored correctly.
Bear in mind that if your coffee beans are exposed to sunlight, humidity and heat it’s going to oxidize and the compounds will deteriorate. But, even when they have oxidized you can still enjoy a decent brew. It will have lost some of the flavor that it originally had.
If it doesn’t, no drama you can still make a nice brew. It’ll just taste very different to what you are used to.
We hope you’ve enjoyed today’s guide to storing coffee beans at their best.
As with all aspects of making coffee, you should experiment until you find the most effective solution for you when it comes to storing coffee the right way. Pay attention to today’s tips and you’re in safe hands. Don’t forget to bookmark our site and we’ll see you soon!