Ahh, the smell of freshly roasted coffee beans, there’s nothing quite like it. And of course the fresher the beans, the better the coffee tastes. Keeping coffee beans fresh is mainly about preserving the oils and aromatics of the beans as these are the major sources of flavour.
So what is the best way to keep coffee fresh?
Freshness of coffee beans is adversely affected by four main elements:
1. Air (Oxygen); 2. Heat; 3. Moisture; and 4. Sunlight.
1. Air: Coffee oxidizes with exposure to air. This causes the aromatics and oils of the beans to evaporate, degrading flavour. To slow this process, keep your coffee beans in as airtight environment as possible.
2. Heat: Heat causes the oils in the coffee beans to sweat out of the surface of the bean, losing flavour and aroma. Coffee should be stored at a cool room temperature. Take care to not store the beans beside hot fridge motors, on top of the coffee machine or under a sunny window.
3. Moisture: Keep coffee in a dry environment. Coffee beans absorb moisture and moisture on the surface of the bean will leach out much of the aroma and flavour. Never store coffee in the fridge or freezer as these are moist environments.
4. Sunlight: Light also speeds up the oxidation process so avoid beans in clear packages and store is a cool, dark, dry place.
Time is also a factor in the freshness of coffee. Interestingly, coffee bean freshness is determined by time since roasting, rather than time from harvest. Coffee beans should be used within six weeks of roasting.
Ground coffee on the other hand should be used without delay. Grinding the coffee beans speeds up flavour loss as the increased surface area greatly speeds up oxidization. This is another of the benefits of the “bean to cup” automatic coffee machines that PureBean Office Café supplies.
Finally, coffee acts like a sponge for flavours and odours around it. So do not store your beans near smelly foodstuffs or chemicals (or in containers that smell). This is true also for food smells in the fridge, another reason to not store in the fridge.