To make the perfect cup of coffee, start with fresh coffee beans and store them properly to maximize freshness and flavor.
Keep beans airtight and cool
Coffee beans’ greatest enemies are air, moisture, heat, and light.
To preserve your coffee beans’ fresh roasted flavor as long as possible, store them in an opaque, air-tight container at room temperature. Coffee beans can be beautiful, but avoid clear canisters which will allow light to compromise the taste of your coffee.
Keep your coffee beans, espresso beans or ground coffee in a dark and cool location. A cabinet near the oven is often too warm, and so is a spot on the kitchen counter that gets strong afternoon sun.
Invest in storage canisters with an airtight seal.
Buy the right amount
Coffee begins to lose freshness almost immediately after roasting.
Exposure to air is bad for coffee beans. If you prefer to keep your coffee beans in an accessible and/or attractive container, it may be a good idea to divide your coffee bean supply into several smaller portions, with the larger, unused portion in an air-tight container.
This is especially important when buying pre-ground coffee, because of the increased exposure to oxygen. If you buy whole coffee beans, grind the amount you need immediately before brewing.
Freezing your beans?
Freshness is critical to a quality cup of coffee. Experts agree that coffee should be consumed as quickly as possible after it is roasted, especially once the original packaging seal has been broken.
While there are different views on whether or not coffee should be frozen or refrigerated, the main consideration is that coffee absorbs moisture – and odors, and tastes – from the air that surrounds it.
Most home storage containers let in small amounts of oxygen, which is why food stored for a long time in the freezer can suffer freezer burn. Therefore, if you do refrigerate or freeze your coffee beans, be sure to use a truly airtight container.
If you plan to freeze your coffee beans, quickly remove as much as you need for no more than a week at a time, and return the rest to the freezer before any condensation forms on the frozen coffee. Freezing your coffee beans does not change the basic brewing process.
Coffee's Freshness Over Time
Coffee begins to lose its freshness as soon as it is done roasting, and is at its peak in the first few days after it is roasted. Ground coffee is best when consumed within one to two weeks of roasting. Whole beans are best within one month of roasting. Here are some tips for keeping your coffee at its tastiest:
- To keep your coffee fresh, buy fresh hand roasted and then store your coffee properly.
- If you want to buy a larger quantity of coffee, store the bulk of it tightly sealed in an airtight container in a cool, dark area and keep a smaller quantity in a smaller container for daily use. Only open the large container to refill the smaller container. Storing coffee this way will reduce air exposure for the larger portion coffee.
What to Avoid in Coffee Storage
Coffee does best in a dry, airtight container. When choosing a container and location for your favorite blend, be sure avoid air, moisture, heat, and light.
Coffee Storage Locations
While convenience is key, be sure to store your coffee in a location that will keep it fresh and flavorful. With that in mind:
- Cool, dark, dry places (such as pantries and cabinets) are best for coffee storage.
- Fridges and freezers should be avoided because they are moist.
- Avoid warm spots, like above/next to the oven or in cabinets that get hot from exposure to sunlight or cooking equipment.
- Countertops that are away from direct sunlight and other sources of heat can be appropriate if you use opaque, airtight storage vessels.
Coffee Container Types
Once coffee’s original packaging is opened, coffee loses its freshness quickly. For that reason, you'll want to put your coffee into the right container as soon as possible.
- Glass, ceramic or non-reactive metal containers with airtight gaskets are ideal for storing coffee.
- Coffee can be stored fresh in clear, glass canisters or clear plastic ware only if the canisters are kept in a cool, dark place.
- For countertop storage, opaque, airtight containers are best.
Ground Coffee vs. Whole Beans
Ground coffee has much more surface area than whole bean coffee, so it will lose freshness faster. If you have the time, energy, and equipment, it's ideal to grind your own coffee beans each morning. If you're not ready to take on that level of commitment, you can still have delicious fresh coffee if you use whole beans within a month of roasting and ground beans within two weeks of grinding.