How To Store Coffee Beans

You may have heard that coffee is best stored in the refrigerator. This is not entirely true. Refrigerators can have undesirable factors like temperature changes, light, and extraneous odors.

A refrigerator can easily spoil even the most expensive and high-quality beans. Other options are to store your coffee in a cupboard or the freezer. Let's learn about these options.

After roasting, coffee rapidly loses its freshness: The taste becomes flat and an unpleasant bitterness appears.

This is because roasted coffee is very hygroscopic: It quickly absorbs moisture and takes in odors, and the essential oils in the beans react with oxygen and oxidize. To keep coffee fresh longer, it must be properly stored.

How Long Can Coffee Be Stored, And Why?

Coffee's shelf life depends on three factors:

  • Grinding;
  • Packaging;
  • Storage.

In each step, coffee is affected differently by oxygen, moisture, heat, sunlight, and odors.

Coffee reaches its peak on the fourth or seventh day after roasting. If coffee is stored in a sealed container with a degassing valve, the taste remains for a month or two.

After two months, the taste becomes flat, and an unpleasant bitterness appears. Ground coffee in an open pack only lasts for a week.

You can distinguish fresh coffee from stale coffee by smell. Fresh coffee smells very bright. This scent is immediately distinguished even by people who are not particularly picky about coffee.

If the coffee is light or medium roasted, it should not have oil on the surface of the beans. This does not apply to dark roasts, because in this situation, oil appears on the surface of the beans during roasting.

If you buy ground coffee in a supermarket, there is no chance that it will be truly delicious. Firstly, there are no degassing valves on the packages. Secondly, because of logistics, the coffee was roasted and ground 1-2 months ago or even earlier. Thirdly, the quality of the beans was most likely poor in the first place.

In some specialty stores, coffee beans are stored in transparent plastic containers and then packaged by weight. This storage method is also not suitable—the containers are leaky, the coffee is exposed to light, and the roast date is most likely a secret even to the sellers.

Ideally, coffee should be packed in an opaque package with a degassing valve. The roasting date must be indicated on the packaging. If coffee is more than a month old, we recommend looking for something fresher, and after opening the package, drink it in one to two weeks, no more.

How to Store Ground Coffee

Ground coffee is exhaled several times faster than whole beans because it has more points of contact with the environment. It's impossible to store ground coffee for a long time—it will begin to lose freshness immediately after grinding and even in good packaging will last only 1-2 days.

You need to buy ground coffee only in the most extreme cases, like if you don't have a coffee grinder or if you plan to drink the coffee very quickly. In other situations, we recommend that you buy whole beans.

How to Store Coffee Beans

With proper storage, coffee beans keep their freshness for one to two months after roasting. Most often, beans are stored in bags, jars, or plastic containers.

Bags with a Ziplock closure and degassing valve are best suited for storage. They are opaque, protected from moisture and air, and the valve allows you to remove carbon dioxide, which is off-gassed by freshly roasted beans.

In second place are ceramic and glass jars with sealed lids. Their advantage is that they, like bags, protect coffee from moisture and odors. The disadvantage is that there will always be air inside - this means that oxidation processes will continue in the jar and coffee will lose its freshness more quickly.

It is best to pour coffee into jars a few days after roasting so that most of the carbon dioxide has already been off-gassed.

Plastic containers are best avoided. They are not always leakproof and can allow light to pass through, and sometimes make the coffee taste like plastic.

Where to Store Coffee

If you plan to use coffee within a month, it is best to store it in a kitchen cabinet or other place where there are no changes in temperature and direct light. Make sure that the cabinet is away from the stove so that the coffee isn't exposed to temperature changes.

If you pre-buy coffee to brew a long time in the future, it can be stored in the freezer. However, there are several conditions that are important to observe:

  • The packaging must be opaque and absolutely leakproof. Before putting the bag in the freezer, remove excess air through the valve to reduce the chance of condensation.
  • Do not defrost and refreeze coffee. If you plan to store coffee in the freezer and only take a portion out at a time, you need to distribute it into portions in advance. The main thing to remember is that if you take coffee out of the freezer even for a minute, you can not put it back.
  • Before brewing frozen coffee, it must be defrosted to room temperature. To do this, you need to leave out for a while until it warms up on its own. For example, you can take your coffee out of the freezer in the evening and brew it in the morning.

A refrigerator is the worst place to store coffee. The temperature inside is unstable because the refrigerator is periodically opened and closed. Because of this, condensation and excess moisture will appear on the coffee. But the worst thing is the odors of the refrigerator, which are absorbed by the beans.

How to Store Instant Coffee

Instant coffee is made through a sophisticated bean processing process with the addition of artificial flavors. After opening the package, the essential oils disappear more quickly than from a natural ground product. Therefore, it is necessary to store instant coffee in a packet in a dark, dry place. Its maximum shelf life is 2 years. In addition, because instant coffee has synthetic additives that can enter into various chemical reactions, drinking expired instant coffee is dangerous.

To Summarize

It is best to buy coffee that is roasted in your city/country. When foreign coffee is imported after roasting, it is held up by shipping and customs, so it won't be fresh.

The packaging must be opaque with a degassing valve.

It is best if 3 to 14 days have passed since the roasting date. At this point, coffee will be at the peak of its taste, and you will still have time to drink it fresh. It’s normal for coffee to have been roasted three weeks to a month ago, but in this case, it’s better not to buy a lot because you might not be able to drink it quickly enough. Coffee must be used within a month and a half to two months after roasting.

Freshly ground coffee is worth buying only if you plan to drink it within a few days. Stale ground coffee should never be purchased.

Try not to store coffee in the refrigerator. It is best to store it in an airtight, opaque bag with a valve. If you buy coffee that you'll use quickly, store it in a dry, dark place where there are no temperature differences, like in the kitchen cabinet. If you buy coffee that you won't use quickly, distribute it into portions, pack it well, and put it in the freezer. Just remember never to re-freeze coffee after it's been defrosted.