You found your favorite coffee. You decided to stock up. Now you’re in a bind. How should you store coffee beans to keep it fresh as possible as you brew through it? Here are some simple tips from our experts to make your coffee last.
The first thing to remember is that coffee is a perishable product. Once coffee is roasted, it’s a race against time for the freshest cup.
“As coffee goes stale, it becomes dull. You lose volatile compounds, and anything special or unique just starts to fade away,” says Jess Brooks, Coffee Buyer & Supply Chain Manager at Allegro.
“I like to treat coffee as a staple, like milk or bread. Buy it fresh and use it up. But if it takes you more than a week to work through a bag, you need to consider how best to store it.”
When it comes to coffee, oxygen is your biggest enemy. Your goal is to limit exposure to air, humidity and light. If you successfully manage these three factors, you’ll extend the life of that light roast Guatemala or whichever coffee you have on the shelf.
The Little Valve that Saves
Fortunately, we’ve considered these factors in our packaging. Our coffees come packaged in opaque, non-porous bags that limit exposure to light and humidity, and prevent exposure to oxygen. In addition, we nitrogen-flush every bag to displace the oxygen in the bag.
You’ll also see a small, one-way valve that keeps oxygen out while allowing carbon dioxide to escape the bag. When coffee is roasted, it releases carbon dioxide, which can collect in the bag as it sits on the shelf.
(Pro-tip: If you give the coffee bag a little squeeze, you’ll get a preview of that fresh roasted aroma.)
Storing your coffee at home
Once you’ve brought your coffee home, what’s the best way to keep it fresh? When storing your coffee for the long haul, consider buying whole beans instead of ground coffee. The increased surface area of ground coffee makes it go stale much more quickly than whole beans.
From there, it all comes down to timing.
“If you plan to use the coffee within one or two weeks, the best thing is to just use the bag it comes in,” Jess says. “Just be sure to push out as much air as possible after use, seal it tight, and store it in a cool, dry pantry or cupboard.”
Another great option is to transfer your coffee to a storage container. There are numerous options that can keep your coffee fresh and spruce up your home coffee station. We love the Atmos Vacuum Canisters for their ability to remove air, but you can also opt for a simple Mason jar that seals tight. Your goal is to store your coffee in an environment with a stable temperature, and no light, heat or air.
Should I freeze my coffee?
When you have more coffee than you can consume over two weeks time, freezing can be a decent option. Similar to storing coffee in your pantry, the key is a consistent temperature and low humidity.
If you buy a five pound bag and you can’t finish it in a short timeframe, portion it out among zip-loc bags that you can use up in a week. Then squeeze out as much air as you can, tuck it in a dark back corner of your freezer, and leave it until it’s needed.
While a dark corner of the pantry is a solid storage option and the freezer is okay in a pinch, the one thing all coffee professionals agree on is to avoid the refrigerator. The fridge is a humid environment with many competing flavors and aromas that coffee can absorb. Plus, the frequent opening and closing of the door means wide variances in temperature.
In the end, specialty coffee is all about the unique flavors and aromas in a fresh-roast; considering how you store it can help extend that enjoyment. Whether you shop for coffee on a weekly basis, buy your blends in bulk, or stock up on your favorite single origin when it’s in season, it’s easy to make it last.