There are many misconceptions about the best way to store and maintain roasted coffee. The enemies of roasted coffee are moisture, air, light, and heat. To keep your coffee fresher longer, store your coffee away from these dangers in an airtight container kept in a cool, dry, and dark place.
Frozen Coffee Beans – Not as Good as Iced Coffee
You may think storing your coffee in the freezer is a great way to store your coffee. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Here’s why.
Coffee is porous which is great for flavored coffee fans. The porous nature allows the flavorings to be absorbed into the coffee. But, this also means the beans can absorb less savory aromas and flavors. Remember, we said one of the enemies of coffee is moisture. Freezers are filled with moisture. Just think of those aromas and flavors in that damp freezer—meat, seafood, and more—being soaked up by your coffee. Yuck!
Freezing also breaks down the oils in your coffee. These oils are released as the coffee is roasted and give coffee its distinct flavor. Breaking down these oils removes the flavor from your coffee. You definitely don’t want that.
Finally, if you stop to think about it, if coffee really tasted better and fresher from the freezer you would buy it in the frozen food section!
So, You Should Never Freeze Coffee?
Every rule has it’s “made to be broken” moment. For freezing coffee, this is it.
Coffee is freshest within about two weeks of roasting. When you find a great price on bulk coffee and there is no way you can finish it in two weeks, you could freeze it as long as you follow some simple guidelines.
- Make sure the coffee is whole bean
- Divide your coffee into weekly portions
- Put your portioned coffee in freezer bags, removing as much air as possible
- Put these freezer bags inside a larger freezer bag or individually wrap them in plastic wrap
- Once you remove a bag, do not return it to the freezer
Let’s break down these guidelines to understand why you should use these methods for storing your coffee in the freezer. First, we can’t reiterate this too much, moisture is an enemy of coffee. Removing your coffee from the freezer allows it to defrost which creates condensation. That condensation is moisture which can erode your coffee’s flavor. Returning that coffee to the freezer with the moisture on it causes the moisture to freeze. Doing this repeatedly will wreak havoc on your delicious beans.
Second, once coffee has been ground it starts losing its flavor quickly. Keeping your coffee whole bean helps protect the flavor from dissipating. It also gives less area for any moisture crystals to cling to.
Third, dividing the coffee into weekly portions means you won’t have to take all the coffee out of the freezer while you’re measuring it. That time out of the freezer allows condensation and we don’t want that.
Fourth, double bagging or wrapping the individual bags is a second layer of protection against the moisture and the undesirable odors found in the freezer. Finally, removing a bag and returning it to the freezer is horrible for your beans.
When to Refrigerate Coffee
Never, unless you are conducting a science experiment on how long it takes to ruin perfectly good coffee. The fridge is one of the absolute worst places to put coffee.
About That Whole Bean Thing…
So, why should you keep your coffee whole bean? Well, you wouldn’t cut a cake into individual servings the day before you serve it, would you? Of course not! The pieces would become stale and the frosting would dry out. The same thing happens with coffee. Once it is ground, coffee goes stale much faster regardless of how it is stored. You see, the more surface area of the coffee the more chance air and moisture have to negatively affect the flavor. It is best to leave your coffee whole bean as long as you can, grinding it just before brewing if possible.
How About Refrigerating Coffee?
The only time you should refrigerate coffee is if you are making iced coffee or if you are making cold brew. Otherwise, keep your coffee in an airtight container which should be kept in a cool (not refrigerated), dark place.
Here at CoffeeAM we package our coffee in one-way valve bags. This allows us to bag it as soon as it is roasted and ground. The one-way valve is designed to let CO2, which is a by-product of the roasting process, to be released while simultaneously keeping air out. Without the one-way valve, the CO2 would build up in the bag causing it to eventually burst.
Companies selling vacuum-sealed coffee must wait a couple of days before they can even package their coffee, meaning it is already older than our coffee when it gets to you. That “sealed for freshness” suddenly seems relative. Vacuum sealing is best for pre-ground coffee, which we also know affects the flavor of the coffee especially compared to freshly ground. If you are going to buy pre-ground coffee from the store, vacuum-sealed may be the way to go. But why would you do that when you can get freshly roasted coffee delivered right to your doorstep?
What Is A Proper Container, Anyway?
A proper container for storing coffee is one that will keep moisture, light, and air away from it. Something air-tight, like one of these containers will safeguard your coffee from those harmful elements. Each of these is perfect for keeping one pound of freshly roasted coffee protected. Keep your container in a cool, dark place to further fend off the damaging effects of air, light, and moisture.
Okay, let’s review. In order to serve the best coffee:
- Buy whole beans direct from a coffee roaster
- Look for valve-sealed bags, not vacuum-sealed
- Store your coffee beans in a air-tight container in a cool, dark place
- Grind your beans just before brewing
Seems simple enough. Now, go enjoy your best coffee!