What's the best way to store coffee beans?

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What's the best way to store coffee beans?

Coffee is precious. Coffee is essential and many, many people would much rather go without bread than face the prospect of being deprived of their morning eye-opener.

The fear of finding the coffee container empty one morning is what makes us sometimes buy more than we actually need, especially if there’s a sale on a brand we like.

While it is preferable to have a decent supply of coffee in the kitchen, there’s also the tricky problem of keeping it fresh as long as possible.

How to store coffee beans

Experts recommend storing coffee beans in an airtight opaque container in a dark cool place. These conditions are non-negotiable and we’ll explain why.

First of all, we need to discuss the main enemies of those precious coffee beans, the factors that threaten to ruin the taste and coffee beans.

Air

Coffee beans start losing their freshness as soon as they’re roasted and exposure to air triggers a process called oxidation. This affects the compounds that give flavor to your coffee. Prolonged contact with air will make your coffee go stale.

Moisture

This is a particularly vicious enemy as it can deteriorate the beans, destroy the oily substances in the coffee, and make it taste funny.

Heat

The only good heat is the one during the brewing process. Avoid storing coffee beans near a heat source, like the kitchen stove, to prolong freshness.

Light

Coffee beans stored in a clear container are exposed to light, which causes them to go stale.

Odor

Coffee beans have a porous outer shell so if they are stored near food items with a strong smell, they will be contaminated by strange flavors. This is one of the reasons why you should not store coffee in the fridge, where you might also keep cheese, onions or fish.

If you buy coffee in bulk, make sure you have an airtight container. Ideally, you should have a bigger container stored in the pantry and a smaller one in which you can keep enough coffee for a few days.

This allows you to minimize exposure to air of the beans in the big container.

The material the container is made of is also important. You should go for metal or ceramic containers. 

Many people like to keep coffee beans in a glass or clear plastic container on the kitchen counter and we understand this – it looks nice and you have every reason to be proud you have an adequate supply of coffee at hand. But, remember, light is an enemy for your beans.

Can you store coffee in the fridge?

Technically yes, but you must keep in mind that if your container is not truly airtight, moisture can sneak in and ruin the beans. Also, remember the odor issue mentioned above.

Can you store coffee in the freezer?

Coffee connoisseurs are adamant you should not freeze coffee. One of the reasons they give is the danger of freeze burns which will ruin the beans and, then, there’s the problem with moisture, particularly during the thawing period.

However, if you must freeze the beans, try putting them in small air-tight bags so you can take out only the quantity you need. Do not re-freeze thawed beans!

TLDR

  • Store your coffee beans in an airtight container, preferably metal or ceramic. 
  • Use a smaller container to keep enough beans for a few days and only grind the amount you need for a pot of your favorite brew. 
  • Ground beans lose freshness even faster. 
  • Try buying only small quantities, enough for a week or two.

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