Proper coffee storage can save you money.
There’s no worse feeling than splurging on a pound of your favorite single-origin beans only to fix a pot and find it to be stale.
Bummer. You made a costly mistake.
Fortunately, you can prevent this. Take steps to ensure that you keep your beans fresh by following these ten easy coffee storage hacks.
Four Things That Cause Beans to Go Stale Prematurely
According to the National Coffee Association of the USA, four primary things cause beans to go stale–and fairly quickly.
Coffee beans contain oils that impart the distinct nuances of aroma and flavor. When these oils break down, the freshness is compromised.
- Air: Exposure to oxygen causes the oils in the coffee beans to evaporate quickly, losing their aromatics and flavor.
- Moisture: The coffee can develop mold or mildew if the beans are stored in a too-humid environment.
- Heat: Coffee keeps its freshness best in a cooler spot.
- Light: Exposing beans to ambient light or sunlight causes the surface oils to spoil.
Once you know these four enemies that attack the freshness of your beans, you will see clearly how these hacks will be useful.
How Long Does Coffee Stay Fresh?
- Ground coffee begins to lose its aromatics and flavor in as little as one day without storing it correctly.
- Whole beans start to lose flavor in as few as ten days to two weeks.
Ten Easy Coffee Storage Hacks
Knowing these coffee storage hacks can help your beans retain the fresh flavor you deserve–and save you cash!
1 – Choose an opaque canister or container
Some coffee lovers like to display their beans in apothecary or clear mason jars. They are beautiful and add an intriguing, organic look to your kitchen.
However, light is the enemy, even ambient lighting.
So choose an opaque canister or container and not a clear one.
2 – The fridge is not a good place for coffee storage
Many think storing beans in the refrigerator will keep them nice and fresh.
First of all, the refrigerator does not offer the correct humidity for your coffee.
Second, the beans can pick up the flavor of other foods in the fridge, like the chopped onion or tuna salad you made for lunch.
Those conditions will ruin the taste of your product.
3 – Select an airtight container
Not only should your container be opaque, but it should also be airtight. Choose a canister with a lid that seals tightly to keep out any air leaks.
4 – Purchase whole beans not ground coffee
Purchase whole beans and not pre-ground coffee for maximum freshness.
Sure, ground coffee is more convenient. I won’t lie, I keep it on hand myself for convenience.
Once ground, the flavor begins to degrade within a day or so. That quick loss of freshness happens because air saturates the grounds due to their small particles.
5 – Don’t pre-grind beans ahead of time
Segue from point #4 to this bullet point. Don’t pre-grind for long-term coffee storage. Grind it as you use it for maximum flavor.
6 – Shop smart, find a valve-sealed coffee storage bag
Bean freshness begins at the grocery store. Roasters pack the best coffees in valve-sealed bags. Seal the bag up tightly after each use, and the beans will stay nice and fragrant for about a year.
Steer away from fold-over bags, cardboard bins, and plastic containers, as they don’t seal as snugly. If you do select these, plan to transfer them to an opaque container with a tight lid, as described above.
7 – Check the “brew by” date
Your coffee should have a “brew by” or “use by” date stamped on the back or bottom. Check that before you leave the store, and abide by it. Check the grocer’s shelf to find a date with the furthest-away brew by date.
8 – Freezing coffee beans
Many people like to purchase in bulk and freeze their coffee beans. We don’t recommend long-term coffee storage in the freezer.
However, if you insist on freezing your coffee…
Vacuum seal the beans in small portions to keep absolutely all air, odors, and funky freezer odors at bay.
Resist the temptation to freeze bulk quantities in large vacuum bags. That’s because the more times you open it up to scoop out beans, the more you hasten the staling process by introducing air and moisture. Remember, those elements are two of the enemies.
Plus, let’s be honest. You will not get the vacuum sealer out to re-seal them tightly again.
9 – Room temperature coffee storage is best
The best place to keep your java is a dry, dark pantry is on a shelf in a dry, dark pantry or kitchen cabinet.
However, please don’t keep them in that up-high cabinet about your stove. The steam from cooking can ruin them, and that spot gets too warm, prematurely releasing the aromatic oils.
10 – Avoid metal containers
Avoid using metal containers for coffee storage. The metal can react with the oils, causing a breakdown in flavor. That canister might impart a slightly metallic flavor that ruins your experience.
11 – Purchase in small batches
You might feel tempted to purchase beans in bulk quantities. While that seems like a better deal up-front, remember that coffee is fairly delicate, and it loses integrity over long-term storage.
If you end up chunking stale coffee in the trash bin, then it really does not save much money at all.
The Bottom Line: These Eleven Coffee Storage Hacks Save You Cash
Storing your beans–or even pre-ground coffee–correctly saves you money. You won’t be disappointed in the flavor. And you won’t feel ashamed by the amount of coffee that hits the compost bin or trash can from going stale.
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