A lot can happen to beans between roasting and brewing. To get the best cup of coffee possible, it’s important to start with buying quality beans and storing them properly to ensure you have the freshest, most flavoursome beans possible. Read our guide on the best way to store your coffee, so that you can get the most out of your beans.
Coffee beans are perishable. This means that heat, light, moisture and air can all degrade the quality of your coffee beans. To keep your beans fresh for as long as possibly, keep them in an opaque, airtight container on a pantry shelf. Containers used should be non-absorbent, so opt for metal and ceramic containers, and try to stay away from glass and plastic. Clear containers should be avoided, as light can affect the flavour of your beans. If your beans come in a foil-lined bag with a one-way valve however, you can keep them in there. After roasting, coffee starts to emit carbon dioxide, and a one-way valve allows the carbon dioxide to escape without allowing oxygen in.
Ensure your beans are kept in a dry, dark and cool place. This means avoiding storing them near the office kitchen’s oven, and away from windows that get harsh afternoon sun. Whole beans will start to taste stale in around 10-14 days, while ground coffee can start to have a stale character in as little as 24 hours when exposed to oxygen.
As soon as it’s roasted, coffee starts to lose its freshness. Try to buy smaller amounts of freshly roasted coffee more often. Buying new beans every one or two weeks will ensure you’re always using beans of the best quality and flavour.
Air exposure isn’t great for your coffee beans. It may be a good idea to divide your beans into portions. For example, you can keep coffee for the first half of the week in one container, and for the second half of the week in another, so that you’re not exposing all your beans to air every time you use them. This is particularly important when you buy pre-ground coffee, as it is more exposed to oxygen.
Another tip is that if you buy whole beans, grind as you go! Grind the amount you need right before brewing, as coffee starts to oxidise and stale as soon as it is ground. Invest in a burr grinder so that the grinding process is stress-free in the mornings. Grinding daily will ensure that you’re maximizing the aromas in your coffee beans.
Coffee drinkers usually have different opinions on whether or not coffee should be refrigerated or frozen. This is mainly because coffee is hygroscopic, meaning that it absorbs moisture from its environment very easily.
If you do choose to freeze your beans, check how airtight your container truly is. Most storage containers let in tiny amounts of air, but if you freeze your coffee beans, this small amount of air can seriously affect their quality. Make sure that you quickly take out the desired amount when you remove the beans from the freezer or refrigerator, and return the rest straight away before condensation forms on the coffee.
As a general rule however, try to limit freezing to when you buy large quantities of coffee. Coffee beans are quite absorbent and can soak up moisture and aromas from other items in your fridge or freezer. Keep the coffee you won’t be using for weeks or months in the fridge, but keep your everyday coffee in a cool place in your pantry.