You just parted with 25 bucks for a tiny bag of coffee beans, so it makes sense to store them correctly, right? Good quality beans, when stored perfectly, can give you the best flavors and aromas. That’s something you look forward to in your morning Joe, don’t you?
So, what’s the best way to store beans at home? I would say coffee beans are best stored in a mason jar or any dry and airtight container. When choosing the ideal location and container, make sure you protect your favorite beans from the four biggest enemies – air, heat, light, and moisture.
• Air can make the coffee beans oxidize and lose its flavor
• Heat can also deplete the flavor so it’s best to store at room temperature
• Light of all types including sunlight can damage your coffee beans
• Moisture, if absorbed by beans can result in diluting the natural taste and aroma
How To Keep Coffee Beans Fresh For Long?
To smell that perfect aroma and treat your tastebuds to that heavenly flavor, you need to ensure that your coffee beans are always fresh. As coffee beans are perishable food, they start to lose freshness as soon as they are roasted. The natural flavors and aromas also start depleting at a slow rate.
The sooner you use the beans and the better you store them, the more flavourful your cup of coffee will be. When stored correctly, coffee beans will stay fresh for a month after roasting and the ground coffee will only last for a week or two.
You may wonder, why this difference? Well, after grinding, the surface area increases and the ground coffee start losing flavors at a faster pace. Ground coffee is more vulnerable towards the four enemies that are responsible for robbing the essence of coffee.
What Are The Best Storage Options For Coffee Beans?
As mentioned above coffee beans can stay good for a month only when you store them properly. I recommend these three storage options to ensure that your coffee beans stay safe from air, light, heat, and moisture.
1. Original coffee bag or package
The coffee beans come in thick and re-sealable packages to keep them in the best possible condition. You may choose to let your coffee stay in there and reseal the bag after every coffee making session. You may also use a plastic clip to securely lock the beans bag and keep air, light, and moisture away.
2. Mason jars or any jars with a tight lid
If you plan to use the coffee beans within a month of purchase, you may use mason jars or any jar with a secure lid like this to store your beans. If there is nothing else available, a Gatorade bottle may also work as long as the lid is tight and does not let air inside. Make sure the jar has a wide mouth for optimal use and keep it away from sunlight.
3. Airtight containers
Another good storage option is the airtight containers (see on Amazon), but don't confuse them with vacuum containers. An airtight container is different and this is what you need because it does not let air inside. Vacuum containers remove the air present inside and this might have a damaging effect on the coffee beans.
If you store beans in a vacuum container, it will remove air containing the aromatics and shorten the freshness window. The beans will become drier than before and result in a bland coffee.
What Are The Ideal Coffee Storage Locations?
Storing coffee in an ideal location is as important as keeping them in the right containers. I agree that convenience is an essential aspect (after all, who wants to hunt for beans early in the morning), but you will need to ensure that you store in a location that keeps your beans fresh. Here are some examples of good and bad storage locations.
Dry, cool, and dark places like cabinets and pantries are best locations to store coffee beans. Kitchen countertops that are away from sources of heat and direct sunlight are also good if you use airtight jars.
Fridge and freezers are a no-no as they are moist and they have various odors trapped inside that can contaminate your beans. I have covered this in detail below.
Avoid the warmer locations such as next to an oven, windowsill that gets direct sunlight, or cabinets situated just above the cooking stove
Why You Should Not Freeze Your Beans?
To freeze or not to freeze has been a much-argued topic in the world of coffee. While some enthusiasts completely oppose to freezing beans, some of them say it is okay in a few scenarios. As per the National Coffee Association (NCA), you must not freeze your coffee beans as constant contact with moisture will result in depletion of flavors.
If you are storing an unopened bag, the NCA says it is fine to keep it in the freezer as long as the package remains airtight. However, once you take it out from the freezing compartment and thaw the beans, do not put it back into the freezer again. Move it to an airtight, cool and dry place thereafter.
If you open your bag of beans even once (which is minimum) daily, you will expose them to oxygen and moisture that can adversely impact the flavor of your coffee. The damage is greater in intensity if you store an open bag of beans inside the fridge. High levels of humidity can make the beans go stale faster!
I have tried freezing coffee beans on earlier accounts and found the NCA claims to be true. You may keep beans in the freezer if at all you need to, but make sure the package is unopened and tightly sealed during that time.
However, I am strongly against storing beans in the fridge. This not only diminishes the flavor and reduces freshness, but your coffee may also start smelling a lot like the leftover pasta or chicken curry!
Would you want to risk that?
5 Tips For Correctly Storing Coffee Beans At Home
A great cup of coffee comes to life only when you have the right quality beans freshly ground to emit the pure aroma and give you that amazing taste. Below, I have created a list of best tips that you can use as a guide to store beans fresh and get the most out of it.
1. Buy less, buy fresh
Make sure you always buy the freshly roasted beans that are bursting with flavors. Storing too much can result in depletion of flavors so buy and always buy fresh. They mostly come in valve-sealed bags to lock the freshness inside.
Coffee beans start releasing carbon dioxide as soon as they are roasted and it continues to release flavors for up to a week. For optimum freshness, the roasted coffee beans are immediately packed in valve-sealed bags. The one-way bags are the best because they let carbon dioxide escape without allowing oxygen inside.
When buying roasted coffee beans, buy only as much as you think you will consume before the reshness window’ expires. If you are buying whole coffee beans, get only a month’s supply and if you are buying ground coffee, buy for a week or maximum two.
2. Keep air out of your beans
After you have opened a pack of coffee, do not leave it exposed to the air outside. Always transfer the content into an airtight jar or container. If there are less beans, store them in short jar to reduce air spaces as much possible.
While the ordinary kitchen containers may also do a decent job if they are well sealed, I recommend airtight jars for best results. They have one-way valves to keep air out and only let carbon dioxide escape.
3. Avoid humidity and moisture
Coffee beans should always be stored in a dry place, away from humidity and moisture. Too much moisture in the air will speed up deterioration. Beans that are exposed to humidity often develop a sour taste or ff’ aroma.
This is why it is not a good idea to store coffee in the refrigerator or freezer. Frequent opening/ closing of the door causes condensation that is bad for your beans. However, if you store coffee in an unopened packet inside the freezer; this may not cause any moisture issue. Once you remove the bag from the freezer, remember not to put it back.
4. No heat until it’s time to brew!
While you must not store your coffee in a fridge or freezer, you will still need to keep it cool. If your coffee comes in contact with heat, this will accelerate the rate at which the flavor is released. When storing coffee in a kitchen cabinet or countertop, make sure it’s not close to a gas stove or microwave oven.
You must also avoid spots that get direct sunlight, for example, the windowsill. The only time to let coffee come in contact with heat is when you are ready to brew, not before!
5. Always use opaque containers
I agree that coffee beans look great in glass containers. The different shades of beans look appealing to the eyes, but let’s not forget that light is another enemy of coffee. While you may keep them in airtight glass containers, always store in a cabinet away from light.
I recommend using opaque containers because you can keep them on the countertop or any other easily accessible place without worrying about light damaging your coffee.
5 Common Mistakes When Storing Coffee Beans At Home
- Storing more coffee than you can consume in a month to avoid making that trip to the store can turn out to be an expensive waste.
- Buying coffee beans from the open bins may feel great due to the overwhelming smell, but you do not know how long they have been roasted.
- Keeping beans in the freezer hoping that this will extend the lifespan may result in your coffee absorbing various smells, just like baking soda does.
- Storing coffee beans in a glass container will expose them to light and speed up the deterioration process.
- Storing coffee beans in the bag they came in may be a big mistake if the bag is made of plain paper or plastic. However, you may keep them in re-sealable packages in a cool and dry place.
The Final Words
I am sure all coffee fanatics will agree that the best part of waking up is a great cup of Joe! But, regardless of whether you use a French press or espresso, your coffee is only as good as your beans. So, make sure the beans are exposed to light and air only while grinding and the grounds come in contact with heat and moisture only while brewing.
A little care can go a long way in keeping the aromas and flavors intact for a rich and smooth experience! If the coffee beans go stale, you can use them to make a cold brew, which is more forgiving. When it comes to a hot and immersive brew, you should never compromise with freshness!
See Also: ARABICA VS. COLOMBIAN COFFEE