Of the many great things in this world, few are as simple yet wonderful as freshly roasted coffee. As with any kind of culinary concoction, fresh ingredients are critical to a perfect, aromatic brew, and that means properly storing your freshly roasted coffee beans to keep them from going bad.
Correct coffee bean storage involves protecting your precious beans from the air, moisture, and heat, a task that’s actually a lot trickier than it sounds. Fortunately, there are many schools of thought on storing roasted beans, which you’re about to learn about.
Store Your Coffee Beans in a Clean and Sealed Container
According to the National Coffee Association of U.S.A. (NCAUSA), “cool and airtight” are the best conditions to store coffee beans. At home, you can keep your coffee in an airtight container—just be sure it’s clean. You can opt to keep your beans in the bag they came in, but be advised that the quality of such bags tends to differ between brands—if the bag comes in a sturdy, reusable seal, you should be good to go until you use all the beans up.
Another good option is a mason jar, an old sauce jar, or even a used Gatorade bottle. For used containers that once contained something else just be sure to clean them thoroughly to remove all residual smells.
Store your Coffee Beans in the Freezer
For long-term storage, keep your beans in the freezer. However, don’t keep all your coffee in a bag that you’ll take back and forth to the brewer; very soon your coffee will taste flat because of the moisture from condensation, which affects the natural oils in the coffee beans. Freezing only works as a one-time solution; you should put them in and take them out of the freezer only ONCE.
What you can do is divide your coffee into weekly portions, storing them in separate airtight bags. That way, you’ll only need to remove a bag of coffee a week at a time, keeping the coffee bag for the week in a cool area away from light.
Store Your Coffee in a Cool and Dark Place, Away from Heat
When coffee beans are exposed to heat, they begin to “sweat” out the oils that give them their rich flavor and aroma. These oils are highly unstable, evaporating quickly after being released from the coffee bean, leading to a loss of flavor.
You can mitigate this effect by keeping your coffee beans in a sealed container in a cool and dark place, away from direct sunlight and artificial lighting (think incandescent bulbs and halogens). If you’re brewing coffee on a commercial basis, keep your roasted beans away from the heat of an espresso machine, stove, oven, or microwave.
Store Coffee in Sealed Bags with One-way Valves
Similar to wine, the coffee loses its flavor the more it’s exposed to air due to a process called oxidation. Each coffee bean holds an assortment of organic compounds and oils, which become rancid and evaporate when exposed to air—it’s why storing your coffee in an airtight environment is so important.
If you’re serious about extending the freshness of your roasted coffee, you can store them in sealed bags with a one-valve. What the valve does is allow carbon dioxide, which the coffee releases 3 to 5 days after roasting, to escape from the bag without letting outside air in, helping keep the beans fresh.
Buy Only the Amount of Coffee You Need
Although not a storage method per se, the amount of coffee you keep at home will have a direct impact on your efforts to keep them fresh. Roasted coffee, unfortunately, has a very limited shelf life in terms of optimal flavor, and is best consumed within 4 weeks after roasting.
You can buy as much coffee as you won’t—just be sure you’re going to use it within 4 weeks after their roast date. While they’re still safe to brew after that period, you’ll find that they’ll have lost much of their flavor and liveliness. Might as well drink instant coffee at this point.
3 Coffee Storage tips to memorize
When it comes to storing roasted coffee beans, there are a few rules to keep in mind:
- First, the hygroscopic nature (the ability to absorb moisture in the air) of coffee beans means they should be kept away from any moisture.
- Second, heat affects the quality of coffee beans, so keep them cool and in the dark, away from sunlight, artificial light, and heat sources.
- Third, coffee beans are best kept in airtight containers; any sealed receptacle will do, whether it’s an old glass jar with a lid, a Ziploc bag, a Tupperware container, or old plastic bottles.
Stick to these rules, and your coffee should stay fresh for days without losing any flavors or aromas in the process.