We’re often asked by our customers what is the best way to store their coffee. Should I keep it in the bag? Should I transfer it to an airtight container? Should I keep it in the fridge/freezer? Does it even matter? Today I’m going to do a round-up of what is considered the consensus in the coffee industry on how best to store your coffee for longevity, so your first cup is as delicious as your last: How to Store Your Coffee – Fact vs Fiction.
Some Basic Coffee Science
Coffee beans are fickle little beasts, with their chemistry changing from the moment it starts roasting to many weeks after it’s sat and rested. Coffee just out of the roaster is still considered to be not quite ready for drinking; it’s at this stage where it contains the highest amounts of CO2, a molecule responsible for coffee’s crema but also imbuing a strong acidic flavour immediately after roasting (think of carbonated water with it’s slightly sour tinge). We suggest coffee should be consumed starting around 48 hours after it’s roast date to allow time to “de-gas” (CO2 levels to have dropped considerably) with coffee reaching what we’d consider perfect maturation after about 5 days.
Coffee Storage – What to consider
At home you need to consider 4 main things when storing your coffee; temperature, humidity, air and light. Coffee derives its complex flavour from volatile compounds that are constantly trying to escape your coffee beans, with these factors affecting your coffee in different ways;
Keep your coffee in a cool place, somewhere with a stable temperature. Volatile swings in temperature can accelerate the coffee aging process, so for example leaving it on a hot windowsill in the sun or taking your coffee in and out of the freezer (this a big no no; unless you’re keeping it in the freezer for long term storage and plan to take it out and use it without re-freezing.)
Oxygen is the enemy. Oxidation changes the chemistry inside the coffee and ultimately leads to a stale flavour, and leaving your coffee exposed to the open air causes those compounds to diffuse out of your coffee as the air flows around it. Our coffee comes in a resealable bag, so make sure as soon as you’re finished with your coffee you seal it shut (and try and squeeze as much air out as you can!). The valve also allows air/CO2 out of the bag, whilst keeping oxygen out.
“Do I store my coffee in the fridge?” No, would be our answer, and the reason for that is humidity. In fact, if we wanted to de-gas/age coffee faster it’s been suggested we place the beans in a moist environment to accelerate that process. Taking your coffee in and out of the fridge can lead to condensation forming around the coffee; and if you aren’t sealing your coffee properly your fridge is going to make your coffee taste bland pretty rapidly.
This is mainly for if you’re storing your coffee in a grinder or machine made of glass or transparent plastic; UV light causes the degradation of those lovely aroma compounds, which is why some grinders with transparent cases/lids are made to be UV resistant.
Ideally you want to keep your coffee in a cool, dark place, away from any drafts, in a well-sealed container. If you’re using the bag your coffee arrived in, make sure to squeeze as much air out as you can after you’re done, and make sure you form a nice seal so no air can get in. There are also a myriad of purpose-built coffee storage containers on the internet, not forgetting good old fashioned Tupperware.
Ground Coffee vs Whole Beans
A final point worth noting - ground coffee will lose flavour at a much faster rate than it’s whole bean counterpart; all the above factors are simply amplified when you increase the surface area in contact with the air. If you can afford it, we recommend getting hold of a grinder and grinding your coffee just before you plan to brew for maximum freshness. If that’s not possible, just be sure to be extra stringent in your coffee storage routine!