Are you a coffee enthusiast looking for the best way to store coffee beans? I might have some important insights for you, and trust me, some of them even work to store coffee beans long-term.
Nobody likes a stale cup of coffee, but most people settle for it because they don’t know the root issue. In most cases, it happens because people fail to store the coffee beans right for them to retain their flavor and aroma.
But after reading this complete guide about how to store coffee beans, you’ll realize how easy it is and what you have been missing out on.
Coffee Storage Basics
Every coffee lover must know some fundamental bean storage basics to have a fresh cup of coffee every day. First, exposure to light, moisture, heat, and excess air can make coffee beans go bad. As a result, store your beans in a sealed, airtight container.
It is never a good idea to store coffee in a container with one side open. That only makes it easier for air to contact the beans leading to bean deterioration and loss of valuable aroma.
Similarly, moisture isn’t a good friend of beans either since it introduces external aromas and tastes to the beans. As a result, you must find a dark and cool corner to store your beans. Make sure the container is opaque because sunlight poses a serious threat to the beans’ integrity.
If you have an unopened sealed bag of coffee beans, you can simply store it in a freezer until you have to use it. However, once you have opened the bag, it is recommended to transfer the beans into an airtight container. You can then shift the airtight container to the freezer again.
But is it beneficial to store coffee beans in the freezer?
There is a right and wrong way to freeze coffee. I will discuss that later in the article!
The Four Coffee Flavor Killers You Need To Avoid
While you need to consider several factors to get the best possible flavor from your beans, keeping them fresh before use is where it all starts.
Four elements in the environment pose a serious risk to your coffee beans’ flavors, aromas, and integrity. These include direct light, oxygen, moisture, and heat.
I will explore each element in detail to make sure you know how to store your coffee beans the right way, away from all this.
Imagine waking up to a cup of coffee that tastes like it has been sitting on the table since the night before. Well, that is the taste of stale coffee, and the most probable culprit for this is direct light, especially sunlight.
Direct sunlight helps speed up the bean disintegration process, making it taste stale. As a result, you must store coffee in a cool, dark place or in a dark-colored container. Keep it away from direct light or sunlight in any case.
Another culprit that causes your coffee to go stale is the oxygen in the air. When the oxygen comes in contact with the coffee beans, it reacts and oxidizes. This is also a source of worry for roasters since oxidation occurs right after roasting. 
As a result, roasting companies avoid this by using a specially designed valve that keeps oxygen out and retains carbon dioxide. Similarly, you should keep your coffee away from air and oxygen by storing it in rubber sealed jars or containers.
Humidity is the worst of all, which is why your coffee always stays fresh when you keep it in a dry place. When coffee beans come in contact with moisture, they tend to lose freshness faster.
Moisture, when in excess, clumps up the coffee and makes it go stale. This is worse for ground coffee since it is more vulnerable to moisture than whole coffee beans.
Another reason why coffee beans lose their freshness is exposure to heat. Roasted coffee beans have already been through enough heat. Exposure to more heat before brewing only vaporizes the relevant aromas and flavors.
As a result, make sure that your coffee beans stay in a cool place whatever you do.
How Long Do Roasted Coffee Beans Last?
If I asked how long can you store coffee beans, would you have an answer? The answer is simple – the life of roasted coffee beans depends on how you have stored the beans and the roast date.
Once coffee beans have been through the roasting process, they release carbon dioxide, which acts as a natural preservative. As a result, coffee beans hit their peak flavor depending on how much carbon dioxide is retained.
The peak time usually occurs around the third or fourth day, or seventh or eighth day for beans specifically made for espresso brewing. So, buying coffee beans during this time is best.
How Long Do They Last in Different Packaging?
If your coffee beans are stored in a paper bag, you will begin tasting the staleness within one week of post-roasted peak flavor. If the coffee comes in opaque packaging from the manufacturer, it will last you about three to four weeks. However, that is only in the case that you are extra careful with resealing the bag and ensuring all air is expelled before storing it after use.
In case you have stored whole coffee beans in an airtight container, they can last you about four to eight weeks, depending on your use. Once the coffee beans have lived through this time, you will start noticing a decline in flavor.
However, this does not mean that the coffee will taste bad. It will just not taste as good as it did during the peak flavor time. As a result, while there is an optimum time to consume coffee beans post-roasting, you can still consume them after this time. The beans still stay in relatively good health, only if you have stored them right, away from moisture, heat, air, and light.
Five Bean Storing Methods You Need To Adopt
OK, we have discussed what you need to avoid and how to get the peak flavor from your roasted coffee beans.
Now it is time to discuss the best ways to store coffee beans to ensure you get to brew fresh coffee beans every morning.
Store coffee beans whole
Whole coffee beans are indeed better at retaining their original aroma and flavor. In fact, they can keep these essential elements in for longer than ground coffee beans.
The grinding process speeds up the oxidation process. As a result, ground coffee beans tend to lose flavor and aromas sooner. You will taste the diminished flavor even if you have stored them in airtight packaging. Any fresh coffee drinker will immediately taste the difference in the taste of pre-ground coffee from the store.
Use an airtight container
The next important thing is to figure out what to store coffee beans in. Your best bet is an airtight container that can be sealed. This is to ensure oxygen doesn’t come in contact with the beans. The less the oxygen, the slower the oxidation process, and the more the beans will retain their precious aroma and flavors.
Keep the coffee beans in the dark
Not sure where to store your coffee beans? There is a science behind this best coffee storing practice. Direct light or sunlight breaks up the structure of the beans, making them disintegrate. This leads to a loss of flavor, aroma, and the beans’ freshness.
Your best bet at avoiding this is to store the coffee beans in a dark place. Now there are two ways to do this. Either get a dark-colored canister or container to store the beans. Or, simply put the container in a cool, dark place. Both are equally good; however, I personally like the idea of a dark container since you can store it anywhere around the kitchen.
Opting for both a dark container and a dark place is way better, in my opinion, but it is not always feasible.
Avoid the refrigerator.
I previously mentioned that you could freeze coffee beans to keep them fresh. However, while freezing works when they are frozen in a sealed container for the long-term, it is never a good idea to put beans in a refrigerator in an un-sealed container for a short period.
Refrigeration introduces unwanted food odors and moisture to the coffee beans, which diminish the original flavor.
Grind only what you need.
As mentioned earlier, whole coffee beans are way better at staying fresh and flavorful. As a result, it is recommended to only grind the amount of coffee that you need at one point.
This is for all those who prioritize freshness. Some coffee shops often offer to grind the beans at the time of purchase. I would suggest you decline their offer if freshness is important to you. It is always better to grind the beans at home and one pot at a time for a fresher experience.
Can Coffee Be Stored In The Freezer?
Now coming to the question: can you store coffee beans in the freezer?
You might have read about how freezing coffee is not a good idea since freezing introduces extra moisture to the beans .
Well, storing coffee in a freezer actually works. But it only works if you are storing coffee for the long-term and there is a way to do it right.
If you follow the following steps and tips to store your coffee in the freezer, it will actually do more good than harm:
- Divide your coffee into small bags and vacuum seal them. Make sure they are tightly closed before you put them in the freezer.
- Only take the amount of coffee that you require. The excess moisture issue only happens if you defrost and re-frost the beans repeatedly.
- Before you open the bag, give some time for the beans to thaw properly. It is a good idea to leave the small bag filled with beans out in the open for a few hours and don’t open it during this time.
It works like a charm, but you don’t necessarily have to freeze coffee beans to preserve their freshness. In fact, freezing should only be taken up as an option if you have bought pre-ground coffee, bought it in bulk, or taken beans along on vacation.
How to test the freshness of your coffee
You won’t have to rely on your guessing to test the freshness of the coffee. In fact, there are various simple tests that you can carry out to figure out whether your coffee is fresh or not. This will also help analyze whether your storage techniques are working efficiently or not.
The Carbon Dioxide Test
The first tests include checking whether the coffee beans are releasing any carbon dioxide . Coffee that has been recently roasted tends to release considerable amounts of CO2. However, the amount of CO2 released slows down as the beans reach their peak freshness and flavor. Learn more about CO2 and coffee beans with our article on degassing roasted coffee beans.
The beans stop releasing any CO2 once all freshness in them is lost. In other terms, if there is no CO2 being released from the beans, they have turned stale.
To your benefit, there is a simple test that you can carry out to ensure whether the beans are still releasing CO2. Simply take a few tablespoons of coffee beans or ground coffee and put them in an airtight sealable bag.
Squeeze any air from the bag and seal it. Leave it overnight so that it can be filled with CO2 released from the beans. If the bag is puffed with gas, it indicates the coffee is still fresh. If the air is squeezed out of the bag, similar to last night, then your beans have gone bad. It is time to invest in a fresh new batch.
The Aroma Test
This is fairly simple and not as effective as the CO2 test because it involves using your sense of smell. Fresh coffee tends to have a strong flavor and aroma. As a result, if your ground coffee is not giving off a powerful and punchy aroma, you should consider comparing it with a fresher batch.
Taking care of your beans is critical process if you plan on having a fresh cup of coffee daily. The more you shower them with love and care, the better they will taste.
Freshness is one non-negotiable that all coffee drinkers must stick by. You need those vibrant aromas, sweet sugars, and crisp acidity. So, keep it away from air, moisture, heat, and light and put it in an opaque air-tight container for premium freshness.
Coffee Storing FAQS
Yes, you can store coffee beans in the freezer. However, store it only if you have it in bulk and avoid defrosting it again and again. Only take out the amount that you need to use and keep the rest frozen for the long-term.
That depends on the type of beans, the roast date, and your storage habits. Usually, most coffee beans stay fresh for around a week or two unless they are espresso beans. The better you store them, the longer they stay fresh.
No, if you do the freezing right, it won’t change the coffee flavor. However, if you do it wrong, freezing can introduce moisture to the beans, making them go stale sooner than expected.
It is actually a good idea to store coffee in a Ziploc bag. However, it is still better to store in an airtight container. Moreover, try to make sure that the Ziploc bag or container is dark or black from the inside.
Mason jars are fine to store coffee beans as long as they are airtight, and you keep them in a cool, dry place.
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