Ultimate Guide | How to Store Coffee Beans

How to Store Coffee Beans

Is it important to know how to store coffee beans? Yes it is, as you don't want your precise coffee to go to waste right? Even leaving it in your grinder might not be the best idea, if it isn't sealed well or is getting too much sunshine. 

This is part four of the Ultimate Guide for Grinding Coffee Beans, a comprehensive guide in which you'll learn anything needed to making the perfect coffee. In this article we will cover the importance of properly storing your coffee.

4.0 How to Store Coffee Beans

Now that you’ve learned about all the types of coffee you can purchase, it is important to know how to store coffee beans. As mentioned previously, whole bean coffee is freshest in the two-week time frame after roasting and packaging, with peak freshness at about 72 hours. Ground coffee fares much worse, losing many of its subtle aromatics and flavor notes less than 24 hours after being ground. Even if you know how to store coffee beans in the most ideal manner, anaerobic chemical reactions (ones that happen regardless of environment) will eventually degrade your coffee.

There are several main reasons why proper coffee bean storage is important. 
1. Oxidation
Caused by exposure to oxygen, light, moisture, and heat, oxidation is the main culprit for “stale” tasting coffee. The same process that darkens a sliced apple is responsible for degrading coffee beans. When coffee beans oxidize, they lose their pleasant aromatics and flavorful oils, resulting in a subpar brew.
2. Fermentation
Fermentation of coffee beans is caused by moisture, and should be avoided at all costs when storing coffee beans. At best, moisture intermixing with your beans will cause a degradation of their delicious volatile aromatic chemicals. At worst, moisture will cause mold to grow on your beans, introducing toxins that may withstand boiling water.
3. Volatility
The most important chemicals responsible for the aroma of coffee are highly volatile. These chemicals dissipate and evaporate quickly, leaving the surface of the beans to interact with the environment. Some environments (e.g. a poor coffee storage container) encourage this chemical process by allowing oxygen to seep in, or providing other means of chemical interaction for these volatiles.

Whether you’ll be grinding a new batch every time you roast or pre-grinding a few days worth at a time, it is important to know how to store coffee beans in any state. For the next part of this article, we’ll be taking on a Q&A format to answer the most common questions about coffee bean storage.

4.1 What is the Best Way to Store Coffee Beans?

If the beans are to be consumed in less than a week, they can be stored in a cool and dry place, away from sunlight, in a non-porous, airtight coffee container. The best way to store coffee beans for extended periods of time is open to debate, with many experts encouraging people not to buy more coffee than can be consumed in a couple of weeks.

4.2 Can I Freeze Coffee Beans?

While some experts recommend that you not freeze coffee beans, this is a highly contested topic. At the very least, you should only be freezing coffee beans once during their lifespan, never refreezing a batch that has been previously frozen; once they have thawed, do not put them back in the freezer. If you do plan on freezing coffee beans, it is best to put the original package in an airtight freezer bag and evacuate all of the oxygen prior to closing.

4.3 How to Keep Coffee Beans Fresh for Very Long Periods of Time?

Because anaerobic chemical reactions will happen within your coffee in even the most ideal environments, it is not recommended to store unused coffee beans for long periods of time. However, putting beans in a freezer slows the reaction down, with deep freezers being ideal if you’re planning on storing them for months. The question of how to keep coffee beans fresh for long periods of time is somewhat a misnomer in that regard, as you could definitely store them, but they would no longer be fresh.

4.4 What Kind of Coffee Bean Storage Containers Should I Get?

A coffee storage container should satisfy some basic requirements. It needs to be airtight (to decrease oxidation) and non-porous (to prevent chemicals from leaving or entering). Thus, containers without some sort of air seal should not be used. Porous materials like wood, ceramics and pottery, some metals, and some plastics should be avoided.

The best coffee bean storage containers are typically made from glass and contain a rubber seal where the lid is inserted. A great coffee storage container can also be made from specifics plastics or metals. Just make sure to avoid porous varieties of plastic, like PE, PP, PTFE, PVDF, or EVA.

4.5 How to Store Ground Coffee?

Unfortunately, once the coffee is ground it deteriorates quickly. Most cafés have policies to dispose of coffee that was ground more than 24 hours ago, and for good reason. Storing ground coffee is a measure of last resort, as it should be used as quickly as possible after the grinding process.

When this is not an option, the best way to store ground coffee is quite similar to storing beans: an airtight, non-porous coffee container placed in a cool, dark space. Similarly, the best way to store ground coffee in a freezer is to place its original packaging in a vacuum-sealed freezer bag.

4.6 How to Store Ground Coffee in the Long Term?

24 hours is the window for passable results, and anything more is highly detrimental to the quality of your coffee. If you are storing ground coffee for more than a few weeks, you should reconsider grinding or purchasing such large quantities.

Yes, in a pinch, the ground coffee will still have some caffeine. But it will be bland, stale, and hard to stomach. If that doesn’t turn you off, keep it in a deep freezer, taking care not to refreeze thawed grinds.


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