Coffee Storage – How To

Coffee Storage – How To

Coffee roasters frequently are asked questions about coffee storage. Should coffee be stored in the refrigerator? The freezer? Away from sunlight? Coffee canister? storage jar? In glass jars?

The truth is that there are many myths wandering around the coffee world about coffee storage, some of them repeated so often that they’ve taken on the patina of truth. The truths about coffee storage may surprise you.

The Most Common Myths about Coffee Storage – How to store coffee

Quick – what do you do with that two pounds of coffee that you just bought? Ask that question in any group and at least one person will extol the virtues of storing your coffee in the freezer. Another will tell you to leave it in the vacuum stored container in which it was bought. Still a third will tell you to keep it in a glass container or coffee canister, and a fourth is sure to tell you that it really doesn’t matter at all. The truth is that each of those methods of coffee storage is the right answer – in certain conditions. Here’s some common sense advice from people who know about coffee – coffee growers and roasters.

Coffee beans are taken from a living plant, and as such, have a limited shelf life. Like most organic products, you can increase their life by storing them properly. More importantly – at least to most coffee enthusiasts – storing coffee properly preserves the flavor of the coffee. You see, coffee beans contain volatile oils – chemicals that give coffee its characteristic flavor. Those oils are released by the roasting process, and decay rather quickly once the coffee has been roasted. Grinding the coffee beans speeds up the flavor loss even more. Because of the difference in the way that those oils behave, there are different methods of coffee storage that are best for coffee at different times in its life.

To get the best flavor from your coffee, you should brew it within two weeks of roasting, and immediately after grinding. In fact, coffee is at its peak flavor about 48 hours after roasting. That’s a timeline that’s pretty close to impossible unless you’re buying raw beans and roasting your own(if you decide to roast your own coffee, then read this article on how to roast coffee at home). If you buy your coffee as whole roasted coffee beans, you can make a point of looking for the date that the coffee was roasted – but you’ll seldom find it. Failing that, here are some tips on coffee buying and coffee storage that will help ensure that you get a great tasting and fresh cup of coffee every time.

Coffee Buying Tips

The first rules of proper coffee storage have nothing to do with containers or temperatures. They have to do with how you buy your coffee.

  1. If you can, buy from a local roaster who will tell you when the coffee was roasted. Then you know that you’re starting with fresh coffee.
  2. Buy coffee in vacuum sealed bags or cans. Those lovely self serve coffee bean displays with a dozen different varieties of coffee beans are pretty to look at – but the bins allow air to attack the coffee beans, and you have no idea how long the beans have stood there.
  3. Buy no more than two weeks supply of coffee at a time. After two weeks, even freshly roasted coffee will begin to lose its flavor.

Coffee Storage Tips – How To Store Coffee

When considering coffee storage, keep in mind the two main enemies of fresh coffee flavor – air and moisture. Your coffee storage solutions should prevent either from getting at your coffee beans.

1. Don’t store ground coffee. Buy your coffee as whole beans, and grind it when you’re ready to brew. If you do buy ground coffee for the convenience, store it at room temperature in an airtight container after it’s been opened. A ceramic canister with a vacuum seal is a good choice – but avoid clear glass. Sunlight and heat are not good for your coffee.

2. Store up to a one week supply of whole coffee beans in an airtight canister at room temperature. You can use those pretty ceramic canisters, but they’re really not necessary. Any canister that you can seal with an airtight seal is fine, including the can that you bought it in.

3. If you find yourself with more coffee than you’ll use in one week, you can store up to another week’s supply in the freezer – but you should take some precautions to keep the air and moisture away from it first. Here’s how to store coffee safely in your freezer:

– Put the beans in an airtight canister.
– Or – put the beans in a zippered plastic storage back. Whoosh out all the extra air, or use a straw to suck it out. Then wrap the bag in one or two layers of plastic wrap and finish up with a layer of aluminum foil.

– Either way, once you take the canister or package out of the freezer, don’t put it back in. Refreezing your coffee will only dehydrate it and hasten the flavor decay.

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  1. Ollie Kinsey says

    Wouldn’t it be easier to leave your store bought ground coffee in the container., wrap in foil
    and place in freezer. When you are ready to use it, unwrap and store in a dark place?

  2. Paul says

    This is a very nice site. It is informative and written so that the average person, me, can understand. I now know I have been mistreating my coffee and consequently me too.

  3. Peggy Simpson says

    I bought 10 large bags of Community brand coffee when I was in Louisiana recently because it is not sold in Nevada where we currently live.
    How should it be stored. The packing looks air tight.

  4. Kathryn McMorrow says

    I know your comment is 5 years old, but I thought Mt. Hagen was about the best instant coffee until I tried the much less expensive Cafe Legal, which has a slight aroma of carmelized sugar to the dark granules. I came to this site because I don’t like how standard packages of Peet’s, Starbucks, etc., i.e premium commercial coffees, loose flavor and freshness so rapidly once opened. Maybe I need to try one of the home vacuum food containers! Fortunately, never an issue with instant coffee, at least!

  5. White Whine says

    Can’t even have a frikkin comment roll about coffee without people bickering? Shut uppa your face!

    I’m so grateful for the advice about storing beans in the freezer/containers. I’ve been storing a giant bag of Starbucks beans in my freezer for almost a year. I didn’t even notice the flavor deterioration until I started ordering coffee-shop coffee again and it was like a smack in the face. Wow!

    Another thing is that I’m trying to cut back on plastic as much as possible, so I hesitate wrapping beans in so much wasteful material. Instead I’ll now go with tightly-sealed metal or ceramic containers. What do you think about sealing them in mason jars with dark cloth taped around them to block out the sun?

    I’m now trying to find the best beans around for my little French Press and not have to cram 37 pounds into storage, but now at least I know how to make the best of the excess. Thank you!!

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