Ah! There’s nothing like the smell of opening a canister of coffee and savoring the scent of fresh beans or grounds for the very first time. Yet, all the aromas and tastes encapsulated in these magical beans don’t come without a catch: coffee does go stale. And there’s good reason coffee is often described as “fresh roasted”; leave a coffee on the shelf too long, and it will be sapped of its flavor by the end of the day.
The good news? Your coffee doesn’t have to hit its decline quite as quickly thanks to a few simple hacks and to-dos.
Storing Coffee as Beans
First, know this: coffee is at its freshest immediately after it’s roasted and, otherwise, immediately before it’s ground. That means preserving coffee in bean form is important.
And beans are notoriously finicky.
Where to store coffee beans: the best way to store coffee is to use an air-tight container that is opaque. So, steer clear of clear containers. This is because coffee beans are sensitive to light, which expedites the process of beans losing freshness. You’ll want to tuck these beans and their container in a cabinet—so, not on the counter—and in a room with a cool temperature. Be careful not to leave beans in an unairconditioned room when the summer months arrive.
Also, grind the beans as needed, and not all at once.
How to Store Coffee Beans as Grounds
Ground coffee loses freshness twice as fast as a bean because of their larger surface area. For that reason, it’s best to use ground coffee within about two weeks of the roast date—or freeze it.
For both beans and grounds, coffee begins to lose its flavor even faster once a bag is opened. Most coffee comes in a gas-sealed container that preserves the coffee for longer as it’s in transit and waiting on store shelves, which is why careful storage becomes tremendously important for keeping coffee tasty. As with beans, keep grounds in an air-tight container, away from sources of heat, and in a dark space. Take extra care when storing ground coffee.
Best Way to Store Coffee in the Freezer
As a last-resort effort to keep coffee longer, it is acceptable to freeze it. It’s just not recommended.
Coffee beans and grounds are porous, meaning they’ll absorb any moisture in the refrigerator or freezer, affecting the flavor. There’s also the risk of condensation that further ages the coffee. To boot, it’s susceptible to freezer burn, even with so-called air-tight freezer bags.
Ideally, store unopened bags of coffee in the freezer to ensure they’re not harmed by moisture or soak up odors. If not, make sure to divide frozen coffee into portions so you’re not defrosting more than is needed, and don’t brew the coffee until it has reached room temperature.
All that said, coffee does slow its aging process significantly as the temperature goes down. So, freezing is effective, if risky.
Types of Canisters
The market has developed a variety of air-tight containers to keep coffee—and perishables like it—fresh. How to keep coffee beans fresh is largely a matter of the container it’s stored in, so if you’re an avid coffee drinker, it’s worth the extra cash for these features that maintain your beloved coffee’s quality.
- Air-release valves. This is an especially effective option for a container because it releases all oxygen that would otherwise be trapped in the container. Just make sure the container is opaque.
- Vacuum seals. Several brands make dark containers with lids that vacuum-seal with the touch of a button. It’s simple, seamless, and effective. Be cautious of size, however: don’t buy a container that only holds one bag of coffee at a time if you’re feeding a whole family of caffeine fiends.
- Gas releases. Another type of container for coffee seals the canister while also carving out an area that releases gases that age the coffee. These are typically stainless steel.
In general, a simple air-tight container of any kind will be effective for those who consume their coffee within a week of purchase. All the same, be careful with materials like ceramic that can crack and let in air.
We hope these coffee freshness hacks help you maximize the most from your roast, keeping every cup as fresh as the first. Your friends at Victor Allen’s Coffee won’t steer you wrong, so check back for more tips on maintaining freshness with your favorite grounds or beans.