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.


Comments

  1. good info. i put my coffee in the frig.after i got it after reading this i took it out’it was not open yet’ now i can store it properly.

  2. best bet is to keep it in the container it came in. or in storage tins out of direct sunlight. i keep it in crisper drawer in refrigerator. those new round plastic “tubs” are real good for storage. and coffee cans are forever universal and immortal.

  3. What’s with the class war about instant coffee?! If people want to make jokes about it, what’s it to you?! I, for instance, really like sprouts, whereas other people find them disgusting. Are people snobs because they don’t like sprouts? Not at all. Does instant coffee taste like bird poop? Absolutely – to me. And I am entitled to that opinion (whether I own Kitchen Aid appliances or not).

  4. I have bought a 33 ounces of maxwell house coffee, I open it 2 days ago and stored the large can back in my kitchen cabinet away from heat and light, should I put some in a different container and store the rest in the refrigerator or keep it in the same container in the cabinet? thank you

  5. I find it hard to tolerate all of the negativity towards instant coffee. It is a perfectly good substitute for the little balls found in maracas.

  6. How long will can coffee keep, past the date on the can ? I notice coffee prices going up,so I bought a couple extra cans. Saving me about $4.00
    a can from what some stores are selling coffee.

  7. Good grief, what a lot of snobs we have on this blog. I am what’s called a ‘super-taster’, that is, I have a very sensitive palate and often notice subtle nuance of food and beverage that usually go unnoticed. And I love my instant coffee. It has a character of its own, neither more nor less pleasant than the highly touted, much revered brewed version. It has a cleaner, more refreshing taste, whereas brewed coffee is denser and heavier. To folks like me, brewed coffee is too harsh. Instant can be adjusted to suit individual taste, and therein, along with convenience, lies its charm.

    I don’t like brewed coffee. I’ve gone back time and again to give it another go, and each time I’m left with the same heavy, unpleasant aftertaste. Those who enjoy it, that’s all well and good, but try to keep your elitism down to a dull roar.

    There are definitely inferior instant coffees out there that I would only use as a last resort. But my Mt. Hagan’s and Nescafe Classico are quality products. Different than brewed, yes. But in a good way.

    • 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!

  8. Some people have a better ability to taste than others. Some others have a good imagination. I admit that brewed coffee has a different taste from instant, a taste I could call “better.” But I love the quickness of instant which, to me, doesn’t taste enough inferior to make it worth the difference. In both cases, I’m drinking coffee brands recommended by a famous consumers magazine. And I do believe, having had the coffees at other people’s homes, that the brand name difference is greater, at least for my possibly inferior tasting, than the difference between brewed and instant.

  9. Quite a useful article for someone who enjoys good Wine and wants to test ones palette on another drink; Coffee. I’ve just bought an Espresso machine and discovered I need to also buy a decent grinder if I want to experience some interesting/expceptional Coffee’s and now I know to only buy beans two weeks at a time or freeze anything beyond that. The one thing I’ve learnt in life is; anything really good usually takes more time, money and effort to create, so while instant has it’s place it’s fairly instant and thus the Coffee experience is as you would expect, but absolutely has a place, horses for courses and all that! Coffee freshly ground on demand (including all the various prep and machinery to boot) will deliver more of a taste experience, but at a greater investment in time, money and effort. Compare and contrast with a fine wine, vintage cheese, quality meat, etc… they all require more time investment during the manufacturing process and therefore the “consumer” pays a higher price, there are plenty of other examples in pretty much any other manufacturing field.

    Some of the comments on this chain are the same sort of elitist comments I hear from wine buffs. The sad thing is if more people enjoyed good wine / good coffee, then the bad products wouldn’t have a market and it would overall improve the quality for everyone. So to the Coffee snobs; try to be inclusive as it will benefit you in the long run….to those put off by the elitist attitude; grow a thicker skin and don’t let the minority ruin the enjoyment of exploring something great.

    Amen

  10. I love coffee and enjoy it the best way I can, being a traveler sometimes I have to go with the most cost effective or the most convenient. Sometimes that means (gasp) instant coffee. Just because some coffee snob who can’t conceive being out of his Cuisinart kitchen poo-poos it, I’m not going to stop enjoying it. “Instant coffee- while not fit to drink it does a fairly good job of removing bug and bird residue from the front of your car”… what a pretentious a-hole thing to say.

  11. I buy those big bags from Costco. I am confused-so many different opinions! I grind my own coffee. I really haven’t noticed any flavor change from leaving them out to refrigeration. If in the refrigerator-they wouldn’t pick up other flavors, its seems to me, if they are well sealed.
    So, is packaging for the freezer in small amounts, I drink 7 cups a week, the best way?
    Is that Costco coffee good to buy,anyway?
    I, agree, instant coffee is horrible! My parents only knew this kind for years and years of bad coffee. Now we know! grind your own!

  12. RE: Instant coffee- while not fit to drink it does a fairly good job of removing bug and bird residue from the front of your car.

  13. I drank instant coffee until I went on a diet 36 months ago and starting making fresh-brewing, using Melitta products. Now instant tastes awful to me.

    I buy huge quantities of Melitta coffee once a year when they have their North American warehouse sale (near me). I get both whole bean and ground, place each sealed container into a zip-lock bag, squeeze out the air, write the date on it, and store in the freezer. I take out some each day to brew, and quickly put the sealed bag back into the freezer. I let the coffee thaw for 5 minutes while the water boils.

    You wouldn’t normally freeze coffee at all, but you have to when you buy it once a year. If I purchased it every 2-4 weeks, I would store in the fridge.
    I ocassionally use other coffees, such as Seattle’s Best, but in general, brewed coffee is SO much better than instant that the subtleties and nuances of various storage techniques are superfluous.

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