The simplest answer is to keep them in airtight container out of the sun and heat, away from moisture and don’t put them in the refrigerator or freezer.
One of the most common questions I got when people would come into my coffee roasting business was how and where and how should they store the coffee beans they were buying.
The follow up question was: How long does the coffee stay fresh after it is roasted?
This, in my opinion, was a couple of the most important questions they could ask and a couple of the most important things to know when buying fresh roasted coffee for the home.
Now, for storing coffee, in order for it to stay fresh and you can enjoy it at its peak flavor, there really is not a simple answer since there are some important things to consider when answer this question:
Whole Bean Vs Ground Coffee Beans
The first thing to know is that in a purist world, coffee that WHOLE BEAN is at its peak flavor between 3 days and 2 weeks after its roasted and should be bought and consumed in this time frame.
That is not to say that coffee goes bad after this time its just after this time frame the flavors that will start to decrease.
Now it may not be very noticeable to many people say 3 weeks or even a month after roast depending on many factors that will discuss but ideally you will only buy enough coffee to cover you for those 2 weeks.
As I mentioned there are many factors in storing coffee that can affect its taste so lets dive in further to figure out what else can affect coffee and how long it stays fresh.
Sometimes when I was trying to get a new wholesale account, at some point in the conversation I would be asked if I would ground the coffee for them before delivering.
At that point I would have to tell them that they would have to buy a grinder because if not it would defeat the purpose of buying fresh roasted coffee.
The point I was trying to make and sometimes having to be blunt and let them know It will not matter how you store your coffee if you buy ground coffee you will lose most if not all the taste of the coffee.
The reason for this is because once you grind coffee you need to brew it immediately and by this I mean within a half hour or less and even that half hour is being generous as anytime after this, the coffee will have lost all its peak flavors and you will get an average cup of coffee at best and defeat the purpose of buying fresh roasted coffee.
If you want to get the best tasting coffee.. never and I repeat… never buy ground coffee or have it ground when you buy it.
What is that valve that I see on coffee bags?
This is what is called a degassing valve and is imperative to have on any bag that you buy and that has been filled with fresh roasted coffee. The purpose of this valve is to let the post roast gas out and prevent oxygen from getting in. Why is that you may ask?
After coffee is roasted, for about 2 weeks it will be releasing carbon dioxide and if you don’t have one of these valves attached than this gas has no where to go and your bag will blow up and look like a football.
I remember when I would give a couple of sample bags to potential customers and told them to brew immediately as it did not have valve. Sometimes for one reason or another, they didn’t have a chance too brew the coffee and would call me up worried and asking what was happening to the coffee and the bag was getting bigger and bigger!
The other purpose of this valve is to prevent oxygen from getting into the bag because oxygen is the enemy of coffee and if exposed to coffee it will increase the rate at which the coffee will lose its peak flavor and defeat the purpose of buying fresh roasted coffee.
You make see some coffee bags that are very tightly packed and look like small bricks.
The reason for this is because they have been Nitrogen flushed which is getting rid of any oxygen that has been trapped in a bag during the packaging process and therefore, in theory, extending the time the coffee remains fresh.
There are some that say it can extend it up to 3 weeks or even a month.
How Long Does Coffee Stay Fresh?
Short answer: The same amount of time as before you opened up the bag .. 3 days to 2 weeks. The reason for this because opening the bag does not increase the time it takes for coffee to lose its peak freshness with the exception that, if not stored properly, oxygen it getting to the coffee beans and therefore quickening the rate at which the coffee will lose its freshness.
Once you open up your bag of coffee the same oxygen rules apply plus a few others.
So, if you open your bag within that 2 week after roast period, then I would tell you keep in that same coffee bag but sealed as well as you can.
The reason goes back to the degassing and you will need to allow it to continue to de-gas while minimizing the amount of oxygen getting to the coffee.
Once the two weeks have passed you are now going to need to put your coffee in a canister that you cannot see through and that is both air tight and vacuum sealed.
What’s The Best Container For Storing Coffee?
Before I get into what is the best container, give some thought to where you are going store your coffee.
Coffee does best in a dry, airtight container. When choosing a container and location for your favorite blend, be sure to avoid moisture, heat, and light.
Now, when looking for a container to store coffee there are just a few things to look out for. Ideally, Look for containers that are not see through or made of glass especially if you plain on leaving the container on a counter top where sunlight or other types of light could be hitting it.
In this case look for one that is made of ceramic or a container that is non-reactive to metals. If you can store the coffee in a cool dark place like a kitchen cabinet, you could get glass container as it won’t be subject to sunlight or heat.
After that look for container that has an airtight gasket to prevent any oxygen in the container. Again making the point that oxygen is the enemy of coffee.
Lastly look for a container that is either ceramic or is non reactive as this will ensure that any light hitting the container will affect ti.
With all this in mind, I would recommend that you look into a container such as the Coffee Gator or Friis Coffee Vault that you can find on Amazon or maybe even locally. Your local roaster, where you are hopefully buying your coffee may sell containers as well.
Since these are not your only two options out there, find one that fits your budget and that you like, just make sure it has these 3 criteria.
Can I Store Coffee Beans In A Refrigerator?
Short answer is absolutely not.
I got this question quite often and my typical response ( after no) was that I would not recommend buying so much coffee that you are not going through it within that 2 week period of peak freshness or will not be drinking it for such an extended period of time that you need to put it in the freezer.
When you put coffee in the freezer, unless its been sealed in a airtight bag the coffee will absorb the odors of the other frozen items in the freezer. Also humidity levels inside a freezer tend to change and coffee beans are very pourous and absorb this which also affect the taste.
Also when you take coffee that has been frozen out of the freezer you will need to let come to room temperature before grinding otherwise it could damage your grinder and because the grinding will be inconsistent and adversely affect the brewing.
What Questions Do You Have?
What other questions can you think of about Coffee Storage? My hope is that this will be a complete guide on how to store your coffee however if I missed something or you have a question, just let me know